With the season changing from summer to fall, we’re forced to slow down and spend a bit more time indoors. In summer, we may have been go-go-go, outside frequently, experienced lots of fun activities, and stayed pretty active. In the fall, the weather starts to get cooler (although much more slowly in Texas!), the days get shorter, and there may be fewer social events to attend. It’s a time to reflect on ourselves and our relationships. Are you where you want to be? Are you feeling connected to your partner? Are you investing enough energy in your relationship to keep it strong?
Slowing down during the fall provides a great opportunity to refocus on your relationship and increase intimacy with your partner. Here are just a few ways you can invest in your relationship this month.
1) Plan for the holiday season ahead
Take a little time to pre-plan for the holidays. This time of year can be a fun time with friends and family, but it can also be really stressful. Sit down with your partner and discuss the logistics of what you’ll be doing for each holiday. Discuss whose family you’ll spend time with, when you’ll be going, and agree to be a support system for one another (we all know our families can stress us out during this time of year). On the flip side of that, show your partner you really care by making time spent with your partner’s family just as much of a priority as time spent with your own. You may choose to put your plans on a shared calendar that each of you has access to so there won’t be any confusion. Planning beforehand can save you a lot of headache as you get closer to the holidays by allowing you to prepare as a couple, coordinate with each of your families ahead of time, and prevent you from having last minute arguments about your plans.
2) Have a movie night in
One of the common stresses of the holidays has to do with finances. People get stressed about spending too much money and tend to cut back on outings. This doesn’t have to stop you from taking the time to focus on enjoying a good date night. Staying in for a movie date can save you money, while still giving you a chance to show each other some much needed affection. In truth, you can actually connect in a more meaningful way by staying in to watch a movie with your partner rather than going to the theater. You’re able to be physically closer, and you can cuddle up with one another. Since the weather starts to get a bit more chilly, it’s the perfect time to grab those comfy throw pillows, curl up with your favorite blanket, and enjoy a good film together. Sometimes it’s even fun to take it back to childhood and make a pallet on the floor. You can also pick up some popcorn, classic movie candy, or your favorite drinks to make it feel more like a theater experience. Whether it’s a classic fall flick or a new release, just make sure it’s something you’ll both be into.
3) Do Halloween together
Personally, I love Halloween! It’s my favorite holiday, and I start planning for it months in advance. I love to coordinate costumes with my partner. For us, the act of planning and shopping for all the pieces of the costume is as much fun as dressing up. My favorite was the year we dressed as Peaky Blinders characters. Need some couples costume ideas? You can find tons of inspiration on Pinterest. Some ideas are super cheesy, and some are really clever. Even cheesy can be fun though. If you’ve got kiddos, you can make it a family affair and include them in your costume choice too. Of course, you don’t have to actually coordinate your costumes to have a good time together. You could both dress as whatever you like and join in the festivities. Regardless of how you do it, it’s just more fun when you have others to participate with you.
4) Take interest in your partner’s interests
What is it that your partner really enjoys about this season? Are their interests your interests? They don't have to be. In fact, if they’re not, you’ve got a great opportunity to meet your partner’s attention need by showing them that, while you may not really love what they love, you recognize that it’s important to them. You can make an effort to participate in whatever it is together.
My partner looks forward to football season every year. There’s something about coming together to root for the same team that definitely brings us together. In fact, sharing in a common goal increases connection and is good for the relationship. However, while I enjoy going to games and tailgating, I’m not into watching football on TV quite like my partner is. Honestly, it’s been the source of some arguments in the past. This year, I’m making a conscious effort to sit alongside him during some games and actually engage. Games like football bingo makes it easier on me.
One of the things I enjoy about this time of year is decorating for the holidays. It’s something that my partner will take an interest in and has actually come to enjoy as well in recent years. For me, it’s awesome to be able to do this activity together, and it makes me feel loved when he takes an interest in my idea of crafting some DIY sheet ghosts for our yard.
5) Enjoy a fall festival together
While fall festivals are often enjoyed as a family activity, they can also be fun to do as a couple. While you’re at it, eat a pumpkin doughnut, have some hot apple cider, ride a Ferris wheel, and maybe even go on a hayride. You’re never too old to enjoy a hayride! There are some great festivals around the area. Check out Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls if you want an option that’s a little more chill. Or have an eventful, cultural experience at Oktoberfest in Fredericksberg .
6) Decorate pumpkins with one another
From picking out your pumpkins at the local pumpkin patch to finding the perfect carving design, this activity is sure to get your creative juices flowing. Creativity engages different parts of your brain and reduces stress. The act of working toward a common creative goal together promotes partnership. In my house, we’re serious about our pumpkin decorating. Sometimes we carve, sometimes we paint. But it's definitely an event we look forward to every year. We love to mix up a batch of some of our favorite beverages and carve away for hours.
7) Attend a workshop or retreat together
Of course, a way to directly invest in your relationship is to go to a workshop or retreat specifically created to strengthen your bond. Couples workshops are a great way to reconnect with one another on a deeper level and explore the dynamics of your relationship. You may have a great relationship already, but still probably have a few areas where you could both improve. Or you may feel like you've been neglecting some issues that could really use some attention. Either way, setting aside time to talk about these issues in a supportive environment can be helpful. We're putting on one of our recurring day retreats in early November that highlights meeting one another's relational needs, improving communication and emotional understanding, and gaining better conflict resolution skills. It's set in the Texas Hill Country and is a great space to unplug, and get away for the day.
Whatever you do, the point is to show your relationship some love. Make time for your partner, show some affection, let your partner know you care about what they care about, and be an active participant in your life together. Nurture the relationship. Laugh together. Grow closer.