In this day and age, everyone is busy. Busy at work, busy at home, busy during the week and busy on the weekends. Thanks to pocket technology, we even keep ourselves busy in times when we should be relaxing, such as on the train, during meals or before bed.
So it's little wonder those of us in long-term relationships might start to feel like ships in the night when it comes to spending time with our significant other. Sure, you might share the same roof, but how much quality time do you spend underneath it?
"Over time, it's very easy for people to lose touch with each other, probably more so today than ever before," Matt Garrett from Relationships Australia NSW tells HuffPost Australia.
"We are seeing relationships in which both parties are quite likely to be working, and even if one of the partners is a stay-at-home parent, the same issues can still come up, and often do. Basically it's really about couples losing sight of each other.
"While you might be sharing the same space and seeing each other all the time, as a relationship progresses and the rose-coloured glasses come off it can be easy to feel as though you are drifting apart or are failing to register in each other's lives in a meaningful way.
"To make matters worse, people are often reluctant to admit something is a little amiss."
1. Go on a date
While the concept of organising a 'date night' might seem cringe-y at best, Garrett insists it's a vital part of keeping a relationship on track.
"It's really funny because often couples will say, 'I don't want to do date night, it's so contrived. It should happen naturally.' Well, I'm sorry. Life is busy. It would be wonderful if we were skipping through a meadow of flowers only to fall into each other's arms, but life's not like that," Garrett says.
"You literally have to schedule time in. This often takes a lot of effort, especially if you have children, but it's 100 percent worth it."
Mix it up. Be spontaneous. And most importantly don't expect it to go well every time. Matt Garrett, Relationships Australia
Garrett encourages those with children to invest in a babysitter or reach out and ask a family member or friend to watch the kids for a night, or even for a couple of hours over the weekend.
"I think there's also this pressure for a date night to mean going out on a Friday or Saturday night, but these nights tend to be the busiest and most expensive. Really, what 'date night' means is carving out some shared time together, and in actual fact, a date during the day can actually be better."
Which leads us to...
2. Take the pressure off
While fancy dinners, roses and chocolates make for a lovely gesture, they are not going to save a struggling relationship (or help your bank account) in the long run.
"These are nice for special occasions but what we're really talking about is creating a space where the other person is more important," Garrett says.
"Mix it up. Be spontaneous. And most importantly don't expect it to go well every time. Some dates will go really well, others will be mediocre, and that's okay. The key is to roll with it and keep on going."
3. Voice your concerns
"If you are one half of a couple and you are feeling as though you are losing touch, it is imperative that you bring it up," Garrett says.
"It's strange, but in intimate relationships people often struggle with the notion of being vulnerable with their partners. I see it all the time. In actual fact, partners want to feel vulnerable together, and it's better that happens earlier rather than later."
4. Say hello and goodbye
It's literally as easy as that.
"Acknowledging your partner is so important, even if it's just saying good morning when you wake up, and saying goodbye when someone leaves for the day," Garrett says.
"The same applies for when you arrive home. The first words out of your mouth should not be 'what's for dinner?' That's not very endearing, is it?
"So much of this comes back to simply making sure your partner doesn't feel taken for granted."
We're not even talking about the wink-wink nudge-nudge variety (though that is undoubtedly important, too).
"Touch is very connecting, even in the simplest forms," Garrett says. "A little kiss or a hug can actually go a long way in helping keep that spark alive."
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