This idea is not original to me, but I'm not quite sure where I first read it. It's very powerful. Be careful if you plan to use it. Do you really want that cruddy relationship you're currently in to go on forever? There's nothing wrong with letting it just play its course. Not everything is meant to be eternal.
This idea is mainly for people who live together, but you can use a variant on it if you're still in the dating stage as well. Here's how it works: You make an agreement with your partner that whenever one of you is out of the house, the other person has to throw a little celebration when you return home. So instead of what you do now -- no acknowledgment, or a mumbled "hey"-- you have to pause your show, or set aside your laptop and make a fuss over your partner's return. Even if he/she just left 20 minutes ago.
She returns from the work, I jump off the couch. "Oh my god! YES!!! You're here!" I do a lap around the living room, hi-fiving the dog and the floor lamp. I do the Icky Shuffle. I pick her up and twirl her around and dip her back for a deep kiss. "Look how beautiful you look," I say. Then I start chanting her initials, "S.L.M! S.L.M!" like I'm chanting "USA! USA!" I plop myself back on the couch. "This is the best day ever," I say.
Or I return from the store, she takes off her headphones and turns from the computer. "WHAT??!!!! It's you? It's really you?!" She jumps into my arms and covers my face in little kisses. "Andy's here! Everyone, Andy's here!" she yells to the ficus plants. She walks over to the window, opens it, and calls out to no one in particular, "He's home! He's finally home!"
Does that seem like hard work? No. How many times are you separated and reunited throughout the day? 4 or 5 at most? So you're looking at maybe 3 whole minutes at most of celebrating each other each day. You might think it's not very meaningful if done in jest, but I disagree. The celebration itself may be a bit of a goof, but the reason for doing it isn't. You are making an effort. And not only does a playful, loving interaction set the tone for the rest of your time together that day, you're also saying that you're willing to put energy in to an undertaking whose only stated purpose is to make your partner feel better and to keep your relationship strong.
Yes, you're acting like a dog would act when its owner comes home (if a dog could verbalize and do the Icky Shuffle). There's a reason for that. You know what you never hear? "I don't know. I've just kind of fallen out of love with my dog."
This isn't something you do for a week to revitalize your feelings for each other or something. It has to be the new ritual for as long as you're together.
You might say, "My boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife would never go for that." Okay, well dump them then. You think it's noble to continue a relationship with someone who won't even feign joy at seeing you for a couple minutes a day? This is the only life you've got and that's who you're choosing to spend it with?
In fact, your willingness to indulge in and continue this exercise can serve as a bellwether of your feelings. If you're not willing to take 2 minutes out of your day for the sake of your relationship, that should tell you something about your investment in that relationship.
But if you are, then you have this thing that you're doing just for each other. And it's these types of shared private things that strengthen a relationship. You might say that you don't want to be in a relationship that needs these kinds of rituals. But they all do. Relationships are like air-mattresses that have been manufactured with a slow-leak in them. I think by definition they all have the leak in them. But if you are continually pumping more air in, you'll never notice it. And when relationships first start, everyone is always pumping in air:
I bring you flowers for no reason
You surprise me with tickets to see a band I like
I leave a secret love note in your purse.
You surprise me with my favorite meal
But then time passes and we stop doing these things. But we don't notice an issue immediately because that air mattress is still pretty full. Then, without warning, one day I wake up and find all that separates me from the hard-wood floor is a thin piece of vinyl.
Can I pump it back up? Yeah, I guess, but that's a lot of effort for this old air mattress. Maybe I'll just get a new one. Or, more likely, I'll continue to miserably sleep on the floor for the next 40 years.
Relationships are hard work, people will say. But really it's just a matter of a little bit of effort done consistently. A couple of puffs of air a day and you never notice the mattress deflate. We all know that one old couple who seems to have this tremendous relationship. "They're 85 and he still makes her breakfast everyday. And she still rubs his feet every night before bed." Yes. Ok. But they don't do these things because they have a great relationship; they have a great relationship because they do these things.
The mandatory welcome-home celebration is just an easy and fun way to pump in a little air on a regular basis.