Are You Missing Joy in Your Relationship? (7 Tips to Spark Joy and Revitalize Your Relationship)

Posted by Dana Cole, LMFT on March 22, 2024 at 12:19 PM
Dana Cole, LMFT

7 minute read

Spark the Joy Again in Your Relationship

Do you and your partner spend time together laughing, talking, connecting, and genuinely enjoying one another's company? Or, have you drifted apart, and the only activity you do together now is silently watch TV to fill the void?

When a relationship loses its spark and connection, it can feel horrible and confusing for both partners. You and your partner may not even know why you've drifted apart or lost your joy in being together.

However, the answer may be simple if you and your partner want to bring that joy back into your relationship. Here are some tips to get you out of a relationship rut and rediscover one another. Maybe you'll fall in love all over again!

Bring Back the Relationship Joy with Small Changes

relationship joy

Relationships operate on balance. When one partner changes, the other will adjust – in some way – to restore balance.

Perhaps the ways you've been irritated by your partner reflect your desire for your personal growth. For example:

  • Do you want your partner to exercise more?
  • Do you want you and your partner to travel more?
  • Do you want more date nights with your partner?
  • Do you want to cuddle with your partner more?
  • Do you want to do something together as a couple besides watching TV?

Consider leading by example and get the momentum of change going. If you're interested in being more active, set your alarm and go for a morning jog a few times a week. Nothing is stopping you!

If you want to do something other than watching TV with your partner after dinner, bring out a couple of board games instead and invite them to join. You may even have their favorite snack or drink for game time.

If you want more physical touch, start with a cuddle in bed or on the couch during TV a few nights a week. Bring out your favorite blanket and turn the lights off, movie theater style, and light a fire. It's a perfect cuddle mood.

Ready to travel again? Start with a day trip you and your partner have discussed over the years. It could be a museum or hike you've both wanted to enjoy but have yet to find the time. Be sure to put it on the calendar and enjoy that day of travel with road trip games or favorite music.

Feel free to mix it up and try new things. Sometimes, small changes like the ones above can make a big difference.

Start a Relationship Kindness List (also known as an appreciation list)

Relationship Appreciation List

Have you fallen into a bad habit of focusing on only critical aspects of your partner and the relationship? Reflect on how many compliments or appreciations you've offered your partner the last week or today. If you notice you're focusing more on the negative than the positive in your relationship, you'll need to shift to focus on the good about your partner starting right away.

Many couples find it helpful to keep a Relationship Kindness List on the refrigerator along with a pen. That way, when each of you notices anything that touches your heart or something you are so grateful for that your spouse does all the time, write it down. Write down little and big appreciations your partner does. It takes many positives to subtract from all the negatives, so begin to notice and actively share that common landing place - the fridge.

For example, it could be your partner taking out the trash weekly for the pick-ups. You may also notice that all your laundry has been folded and put in drawers. Maybe you noticed how beautiful your partner's outfit looked today. Or, perhaps they always say something sweet to you when leaving for work every day. Write it all down - big and small. Please share the good in your relationship so you can both see it!

Kindness and appreciation add up in a relationship, and while a refrigerator list may sound silly at first, it can significantly impact your relationship. You both may notice and see each other in a different light, all adding more love and joy into the relationship when you come from a place of positivity and appreciation.

Prioritize Friendship Over Romance Within Your Relationship

friendship in marriage

Prioritizing friendship in your relationship over romance doesn't mean you're giving up on a passionate relationship.

Focusing on friendship over romance helps you appreciate your shared everyday life's special moments and uniqueness. If the romantic gestures you two used to share have long faded, think about your current circumstances. There may be changes in your lives now that didn't exist years ago. Such as:

Does one or both of you have more stress in a particular area of life right now?
  • Did you have a baby or go from one child to two?
  • Has one of you lost your job?
  • Does one of you travel for work, leaving the other home alone or with the kids more often?
  • Are there health problems one of you is struggling with right now?
All relationships have times of more and less stress, and how you handle those transitions deepens your bond as a couple and teammates. Focusing on the day-to-day life you share can help during these times.

For example, if you have children at home, instead of going out on a date night, tune into the moment when your wife is holding your fussy child in her lap and spoon-feeding their macaroni and cheese. It's helpful to step back and take note of the love and care your partner is giving the person you love so dearly as well. You can appreciate this moment and take the opportunity to connect with your wife and child by joining in and making it a playful game of feeding pasta to your child.

As a friend and a partner, it's essential to use these small daily moments to connect as a couple and even a family. These tiny daily moments add up significantly! Little moments can take away from a couple or deepen the love, trust, and compassion for one another as you walk through life's journey together. Appreciate your partner as a treasured and dear friend.

Schedule Relationship Check-Ins

Relationship Check Ins

Regular relationship check-ins can keep a relationship healthy and deeply connect you and your partner. When a couple neglects more significant relationship issues such as trust, finances, and intimacy, they can form a giant puddle that can flood into other areas of life.

Start being proactive. You schedule regular maintenance check-ups for your car, house, or job. Scheduling regular relationship check-ins will help keep relationship problems compartmentalized and more manageable between you and your partner. Here are a few suggestions to talk about when you begin your relationship check-ins with your partner:

  • Do you feel connected to me this month?
  • Are there any new experiences you'd like us to try together?
  • Do you have any new fantasies you'd like to try in the bedroom?
  • What are you looking forward to this month?
  • How do you feel we've resolved conflicts this month?
  • Are there any new areas of stress you're going through that you'd like to share?
  • Can I do anything special for you this month to show how much I love you?

Get going and start your relationship check-ins today!

How to Listen and Communicate Better in Your Relationship

Relationship Communication Essentials

Genuinely listening and talking are at the heart of a strong relationship. Listening is a skill, and when worked on, it will most definitely deepen the couple's bond since they both feel seen and heard.(Sometimes, for the first time in a long time.)

It's not abnormal or weird to need a little help with effective communication and sharing feelings in your relationship. It's helpful when partners begin by taking turns talking to one another. One partner speaks with their heart and is vulnerable the other partner actively listens with an open mind and a curious ear. Here are a few communication tips practiced in Imago Relationship Therapy:

  • Listening– This means making an effort to clear your mind and focus on what your partner says in the moment. We all know it's easier to describe than to do, but practice helps.
  • Validating– This is not to be confused with agreement validating takes a stretch. Find the words or gestures to tell your partner: "I respect what you think/how you feel/your point of view — because it's yours."
  • Empathizing– For a moment, put your pre-judgments, opinions, and perspectives on the shelf. Can you see the point your partner is trying to make? Even if it doesn't make sense from where you're standing? It does for them, and that matters.

Focus on listening as if you've just met for the first time. Be engaged, and give your partner your entire attention. Put those phones away, and look at one another with your hearts.

Change Things Up in Your Relationship

Change Things Up in Your Marriage

In some circumstances, your rut comes from cabin fever. Or you are falling into a predictable and even a little boring routine.

If you are struggling with boredom in your relationship, then do a little research. Commit to an adventure together to bring back some fun and excitement in your relationship. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Try to cook a new food at home together
  • Try a new restaurant in a different town
  • Volunteer for a special cause together
  • Learn a new language together
  • Take a dance class together
  • Go outside and walk together
  • Try out a yoga class together
  • Go out of town together - if even for the day!

Make sure to focus on fun when enjoying new adventures with your partner. While it's true - relationships take work - sometimes all you need in your relationship is a sprinkle of playtime.

Restore Relationship Joy With a Little Help

Couples Therapy That Works

If you and your partner have reached the point where you struggle with basic respect and kindness, and the relationship has become more critical and judgmental than full of love and compassion, you may be stuck and need some guidance to get back on track. When you are feeling stuck, don't go it alone. It's more painful and takes much longer than working with a relationship expert.

You may even discover the issues deepen or new ones appear the longer you wait to seek relationship help. Give yourself and your partner the gift of a bit of intervention to guide you faster than struggling and trying to do it alone. Working with a relationship therapist can save you years of relationship struggle and, in many relationships, restore the joy and love in your relationship.

If you're ready to spark the joy again in your relationship, we're here to help. Check out our virtual and in-person Imago Relationships Workshops and Imago Relationships Therapy.

Discover more about Imago with our Imago Professional Membership, Imago Professional Facilitators, Imago Professional Training, and Imago Insights Education.

Connect. Transform. Thrive.


This blog post was written by Dana Cole, a licensed marriage and family therapist with more than three decades of psychotherapy experience working with Oakland and San Francisco-area couples.

As an Imago Therapy Clinician with 30 years of experience, Dana teaches couples how to create a permanent environment of safety and understanding using a blame-free, shame-free, and criticism-free approach to building long-lasting, committed relationships. Dana has also completed long-term trainings in somatic (body-centered) psychotherapy, Hakomi and Sensori-Motor, and a year-long trauma training and consultation in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Check out Dana's Website and handouts too!

Topics: Healthy Relationships, Happy Relationships, Healthy Communication, Getting the Love you Want, Creating Healthy Relationships, Active Listening, Relationship Rut, Happy Marriage, Healthy Love, Dream Relationship, Relationship Goals, Creating Happy Relationships, Marriage Goals, Couple Goals, Relationship Help, Relationships 101, Relationship Tips, Relationship Advice, Better Relationships, joyful relationships, True Love, Lasting Relationships

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The Imago Relationships Blog features content from our team of professional therapists, workshop presenters and facilitators who are passionate about helping you discover a new way to communicate and love your life.

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