8 Ways To Keep The Surprise In a Relationshipby Jo Piazza on September 03, 2013
If we are being honest then we should admit that after a while, long term monogamous relationships can begin to feel a little bit like Groundhog Day, in the best of possible ways.
Stability, predictability and patterns are part of what makes long-term love so appealing. Still, there is something to be said about shaking things up a little bit. We don’t mean shaking things up in the adopting a swinger lifestyle and wearing a plushie costume kind of way, but just breaking the daily patterns that can settle monogamy into a well-meaning ennui.
To try to learn how to inject fun and surprise into the everyday I checked in with Tania Luna, founder of Surprise Industries. Not only is surprise her passion and her business, but she makes it a pastime. Her home with her husband of four years Brian is something of a laboratory of surprise. Tania gave me eight ways to use surprise and adventure to turn you into Bill Murray at the end of Groundhog Day instead of the guy who wants to punch Ned Ryerson.
1. Make an entrance! Tania didn’t think my plushie costume example was as far-fetched as I did. “One time I came home and Brian was wearing a giant chicken suit,” she told me. “I don’t think the chicken suit is necessary, but there is something to be said about making an entrance.” Exhausted from a day of work, we often dip straight into our routine when we get home: Greet our partner, change out of work clothes, walk the dog, decamp to couch, watch a Kardashian, go to sleep. Rinse. Repeat. When you surprise your partner when he or she enters the room, or conversely when you enter the room, you set the tone for the rest of the night, even if it is just dancing through the door with a smile on your face and giving them a giant hug and a kiss. You never know where it could lead.
2. Create spontaneous games. Invent games for one another. Come home with a couple of Nerf guns. Play Uno to decide who picks the restaurant. Keep a stash of water balloons handy in case you need to battle something out.
3. Find small opportunities to celebrate.
One of the best things about a long-term relationship is having a personal cheerleader for the little things in life. Maybe take the time to celebrate the minutiae. Don’t just celebrate the promotion, but also the day your partner finally had a big talk with their boss that could lead to a promotion. Don’t just celebrate the day a big project comes to fruition, but maybe the halfway mark. Tania told me that she and Brian have an inflatable microphone in the house for these very impromptu celebrations, that typically involve praising and singing to one another.
4. Interrupt your patterns. Figure out what you are constantly doing on a daily basis. Where have things gotten so predictable? Do you call each other at the same time? Do you always do the same things before bed? Doing something different in all those areas can actually boost your dopamine levels, increase the excitement and bring back some of those butterflies in your stomach. Figure out where expectations are low and surpass them. Maybe your partner is used to you coming home at a certain time. Leave work early and surprise them. Wake up a half hour earlier and pack them lunch. Showing an effort can increase feelings of delight.
5. Take risks together. Be willing to do something that makes at least one of you feel a little uncomfortable even if it is as simple as cooking a meal that seems enormously complicated. Even if it ends up setting off the smoke alarm, it will end up being a great memory.
6. Be spontaneous. Tania and her husband have a rule: “When one of them dances, both of them dance.” That is just one of the ways they are spontaneously silly together, whether it is dancing on the subway, starting an impromptu card game or reciting a Shakespearean monologue without provocation.
7. Surprise gifts. The key to surprise gift giving is knowing what kinds of gifts your beloved wants to receive. Some people respond to actual presents. For this Tania told me that she keeps a reserve of gifts on hand that her husband mentions in passing that he loves. “He talked about a sweater he wanted the other day and I was literally under the covers ordering it on eBay to give it to him at a later date.” Tania on the other hand, doesn’t like stuff, so her hubby’s gifts to her often include servicey surprises like doing the dishes, vacuuming or taking out the trash without being asked.
8. Make a bucket list. Keep an ongoing list of things you want to do together. Put the ideas on a scrap of paper and put them in a jar, a hat or an actual bucket. Once a week or once a month pull out a scrap of paper and commit yourself to doing that thing. A lot of activities and fun can be ruined by decision-making. Take that part out of the process. Every time you introduce a new thing into the mix you get a new kind of interaction between the two of you that alters your perception of the other person.
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