With your 40s comes a new set of things to focus on. Your 20s were an uncertain period, while your 30s were more about building your career. But your 40s are all about your relationship. This is a period in your life where you may not need to focus on raising your children or advancing in your career like you used to. Those joyous, yet stressful periods are out of the way, and this is a perfect time to give your partner some extra loving. In theory, it may sound great, though the question lies in how to translate the love you feel, into the love you show. Conflicts often arise when both partners care but can’t seem to see eye to eye on what expressing that care means in practice. Below are 20 expert-approved tips that will help you do just that, ensuring that you become a great partner – remember though, that more than anything, it’s the thought that counts.
1. Make time for date nights no matter how busy you are
Aim to have a date night at least once a week. It could be going out or staying in, or a pre-planned night just for the two of you is a great way to keep your romance alive, providing you with enough time to relax together. This is an essential component in a happy relationship. You don’t always need to do the usual dinner and date too – you can hit the gym together for a class, go to a museum, or hit up a local concert. And feel free to splurge too – it’s only once a week, and there’s nothing more important than spending your money on time together.
2. Be open to professional counseling
If you want to solidify your relationship in your 40s you need to open yourself up to professional counseling. You may be older and wiser but that doesn’t mean that you can handle every problem that comes your way. Real maturity means admitting to yourself when you need help and not rejecting it out of pride. Remember that just because you are asking for help it doesn’t mean that your relationship is in trouble. Just bear in mind that every solid thing in your life needs a little maintenance.
3. Admit your mistakes
To keep a relationship strong throughout your 40s remember that humility is crucial. No one is a perfect partner, but those who achieve relationship longevity do so because they are able to admit when they have made a mistake. While you can listen and give your partner your full attention, it doesn’t mean all that much if your reject what they say simply out of pride.
4. Learn what you did wrong
One of the best parts of reaching your 40s is the relationship experience you’ve gained along the way. But, unless you put it too good use, it’s not worth much. So, it’s time to not only admit you’ve made mistakes in the past but make sure that you are doing better going forward.
5. Practice self-care
You need to learn how to love yourself before you can be a good partner to someone else. Turning 40 is a great time to begin practicing self-care for this reason. It may seem counterintuitive at first – treating yourself better is often the first step to treating your partner with the kindness they deserve as well. And although turning 40 often comes with responsibility for many others, you cannot forget yourself. It is the best thing you could do for those who depend on you.
6. Make time to enjoy one another’s passions
If you’re not trying something brand new, it’s important to keep up with your shared activities that bring the both of you joy. Sharing an activity you both enjoy will enable you to feel more content, and closer to your partner. Do make sure that you stay open-minded when it comes to your shared passions. Bear in mind that your partner doesn’t have to match your level of enthusiasm for your activities.
7. Be responsive
If your partner shows signs that they are struggling, be it with work, family or the relationship, take the time to listen to them and show that you understand their concerns. This will help strengthen your bond and can have a positive effect on their health. The more responsive a partner is, the fewer sleep problems their loved ones are likely to experience.
8. Practice teamwork
You and your partner are a team. Doing so will make most of your problems half as hard, and it will forge a stronger bond between both of you. In a study conducted in 2016, the well-being of married couples depended on teamwork. Remember that teammates don’t always agree – but they do work together towards a shared goal.
9. Get on good terms with your family
As you age you often gain a new family, but this doesn’t mean forgetting your old one. In addition to preserving those important familial bonds, getting on good terms with your family can help your relationship too. Researchers at Iowa state found that ongoing tension with siblings or parents is a predictor of depressive symptoms. This can affect a person’s relationship with their spouse. So while mending your own family fences is important, it is also important to encourage and help your partner to mend theirs.
10. Be affectionate
While it may seem like a small thing, do remember to show physical affection to your partner. This is important as it maintains closeness. And, it is actually more important for men than it is for women. One study found that while frequent touching was important for a couple’s overall sexual satisfaction, only in men did physical intimacy predict relationship happiness. It could be a cuddle, caress, a kiss – anything to remind your partner that you are there for them, not just spiritually, but physically too.
11. Remain passionate
At 40, you may be too busy for many things, but it is essential that you remain physically intimate with one another. It is something you need to make time for. Researchers from Portugal found that among middle-aged adults, sexual satisfaction is linked to a higher quality relationship and to measures of personal well-being as well.
12. Work on your own coping skills
While you don’t have to deal with relationship difficulties alone, learning coping strategies can allow you and your partner to resolve conflicts in a stable, steady and predictable manner. Even if you’ve been together for an extended period of time, find strategies that work for both of you to substantially improve your relationship in a number of domains.
13. Work on your own self-esteem
Self-esteem isn’t all about the self. In addition to making you feel better about all things, it is also beneficial in a romantic relationship. Working on yourself if you want your relationship to thrive, be it going to the gym, or getting into therapy to work out some issues will benefit your relationship.
14. Learn to forgive
While it would be great if your partner never did anything to upset you, it’s highly unlikely. This is why forgiveness is crucial. In addition to releasing negative energy from your system, forgiveness has also been linked to overall relationship satisfaction, according to research published in the Journal of Family Psychology. Forgiveness from one partner leads both partners to work harder at making the relationship successful going forward.
15. Support your partner’s hobbies
Nobody likes it when their hobby is not taken seriously. Research published in Leisure Science found that marital satisfaction was significantly influenced by a partner’s support of their spouse’s ‘recreational role identity’. Making fun of what they enjoy is a big no-no. What may seem profound to one person may seem like the biggest, silliest waste of time to another.
16. Pay attention to your body and see the doctor when you need to
Your body goes through changes as you age. Some, if left unnoticed, may affect the way you treat your partner in response. Hearing loss if undiagnosed was found to negatively impact the well-being of both partners. This is just one example. Being on top of your health allows you to ensure that your partner doesn’t bear the brunt of a physical issue that you should have attended to.
17. Listen to your partner’s work problems
Work can become especially grueling after 40 – this is a time when your partner’s expertise is in high demand. Work overload has been shown to negatively affect relationships, but the support of your spouse can help moderate these effects.
18. Try behavioral couples therapy
BCT is a form of couples therapy based on social learning and behavioral analysis. By analyzing specific action, and working to reform them, it can help participants lead healthier lives. It is also very effective.
19. Show your romantic side
Romance doesn’t necessarily fade from a relationship as time goes by. It changes. Romantic love without the obsession component of early-stage romantic love can exist in long-term marriages. This type of romance is associated with marital satisfaction, well-being, and high self-esteem. So, light some candles, buy some scented oils and connect with your romantic side.
20. Be conscientious
A good partnership is a lot like alchemy – the result is brilliant and beautiful, but the process remains murky and a little understood. According to a study conducted in 2017, the key to maintaining that magic may be simpler than you’d imagine. Conscientiousness is the trait most broadly associated with marital satisfaction of long-term couples. It doesn’t come easy though as it requires mindfulness and focus.