Clear out the dust bunnies and cobwebs in your relationship.
By Lori Lowe
Last updated on Sep 27, 2023
Photo: dimarik, Valerie Ushakova | Canva
I’ve been cleaning out a lot of closets lately and going through old boxes in the basement. Isn’t it embarrassing all the stuff we accumulate over the years? I even found some headphones from the 1980s!
Any time is the ideal time for organizing our lives and clearing out the old, decluttering, and trying to make our environment a little more pleasing. I feel more in control of my life when things around me are in order.
Here are eight ways to get the magic spark back by cleaning up your relationship:
1. Clear the air.
Address the conversations you have been avoiding, or arguments that have come up a few times. Schedule a time for a heart-to-heart talk. Shine the sunlight on issues that are becoming problematic, such as financial strain.
2. Make room for new experiences.
Look at your calendar of commitments. Do you need to free up one night a week as a couple or as a family?
3. Unload past hurts
If you’ve been building up resentment, it’s time to dust it off and unload past hurts. Tell your spouse you want to move past these things, but you’d like to share your feelings about why these incidents hurt you. Allow yourself time to see how your partner is different today.
Give your spouse the opportunity to apologize and make things right. Then forgive him or her and move on. While it’s important to give voice to your hurts, you have to be willing to stop bringing them up once you’ve worked through them with your partner. Consider it old baggage, and haul it away. Start fresh.
4. Sweep up cobwebs
Are there proverbial cobwebs around the marital bed? Take the necessary steps to reconnect and clear them out. Start with communicating about how you got to this point (without blame) and what would help you to feel more intimate with your partner. If you can’t make progress here on your own, get help. Sexual intimacy is vital to marital renewal.
5. Spiff up your appearance
Give thought to spiffing up your appearance. Has it been a while since you cleaned out the closet and cleared out ill-fitting clothes and old sweatpants? Consider updating your hair, makeup, or wardrobe if it’s gotten lax. Pack away the flannel PJs for next winter. Prepare and eat healthy meals that leave you feeling energetic not bogged down. Enjoy the confidence the shiny new you bring.
6. Clean and organize areas where you spend the most time.
In addition to the figurative cleaning, a literal cleaning can give your family a boost of energy. Keep your bedroom clutter to a minimum—and leave the TV in another room. Find strategies and storage for dealing with the high-traffic daily clutter, such as mail and school papers.
7. Polish tarnished relationships.
If negative friendships or family stresses are contributing to marital disharmony, give them a good scrubbing. Be united as a couple, and set boundaries where needed. All your friends should be supportive of your marriage, or they may not be the friends you think they are. Family disputes: Apologize to those you need to apologize to and set family relationships right when you can. This will save a lot of time and stress in your marriage.
8. Regular maintenance.
Just like we can’t clean our houses once in the spring and then forget about it (oh, how I wish it would last for at least a week), we have to work on keeping our marriages renewed and fresh. Find something new and exciting to do this month, and get it on the calendar. Repeat the above steps as needed.
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Lori Lowe writes a newspaper column and a blog called Marriage Gems, offering research-based marriage tips. She is writing a narrative nonfiction book profiling couples who have used adversity to improve their marriages.