When you first enter a relationship, you spend all your time getting to know each other: your likes, dislikes, hobbies, favorite music. As the relationship gets more serious, you may eventually feel like you've hit the peak of bonding. Instead of talking for hours, you now spend most nights watching Netflix instead. Sound familiar? It might be time to get creative with the way you bond.
Sure, you've probably heard many ways to take your relationship to the next level and there's a good chance you've already checked several of them off your list. But just when you think you've tried everything, we have eight new and inventive ways to strengthen your relationship—and they're all expert-approved.
Take a Sacred Bath
Splashing around in the bathtub together is fun, but have you tried a sacred bath? It's basically a zen-like spa experience in the comfort of your own home that deepens your connection by revitalizing your spirit. (Hey, don't bash it 'til you try it.) "Taking a couple's bath is a highly relaxing and bonding experience. You attune to each other in the bath and smell the essential oils, purify with Epsom salt, do a joint meditation, and let anything negative go down the drain so you both emerge in a state of love," says Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist, director of My Dating and Relationship School, and author of Dating from the Inside Out. Try putting a few drops of lavender, jasmine, neroli, and rose oil in your tub for the ultimate love-filled experience.
Take a Trust Walk
It takes a lot of trust to be able to close your eyes and let someone have all the power over you—especially when you're in an unfamiliar place. Sherman says to blindfold your partner—or have them blindfold you—and lead them around a local trail or park while holding their hand, which can increase bonding and trust. You might get some weird looks, but it's totally worth it.
Create Some Rituals
The fun part about starting a new ritual with your significant other is that there are no rules. "Many couples have their own rituals and these acts of love can really bond them," Sherman says. "Some examples include doing crosswords together, rubbing each other's feet at night, cooking together once a week, saying 'I love you' and kissing when they leave and return for the day, bringing flowers every Friday, and more. These acts of kindness build the relationship on a regular basis and bonds the couple."
Who isn't down with some quality cuddle time? Cuddling isn't just a comforting feeling—it also bonds you and your partner on another level. (Yes, you can totally use that as an excuse the next time they try to get out of it.) "Oxytocin increases bonding and cuddling produces oxytocin. Plus, hugs make people feel happy and relaxed," Sherman says. "You can cuddle in bed or while watching television; you just have to set some time aside to be alone without distractions and cell phones."
Remember that intense feeling you got while slow dancing with your crush at the school dance? That feeling doesn't disappear in adulthood, we just don't whip out our dancing skills nearly enough to experience it again. "Slow dancing is physical. You two can embrace and move together to music that moves you," Sherman says. "Play your wedding song, or any song that reminds you of your partner, and be swept away all over again. Sharing those memories and being extra close can be incredibly bonding." Even if that's simply swaying to the music in the kitchen while your dinner is cooking.
Going to the spa for a relaxing afternoon is a great way to relieve work tension, but giving each other a romantic massage takes the experience to a whole new level of intimacy. "Physical touch is a great way to become closer. Helping relax your partner will release stress and allow any armor and defenses to disappear so you can bond with your authentic selves in a state of love and peace," Sherman says.
Create a Vision Board Together
Channeling your creative side with your partner can do more for your relationship than you'd think. "A great way to bond is to share your dreams and desires by creating a shared vision board. You can include the places you'd like to travel, your interests, goals you'd like to achieve, and things you'd like to have, like a family, a house in the country, and a porch swing," Sherman says. "Doing this fun and creative collage will help you get on the same page with your future and will attune you to your partner's desires."
Do a Joint Meditation
Meditating alone can be intimidating, but that doesn't mean you need to feel even more intimated about doing it with your partner. Just start slow and go from there. "You can start with an open-eyed 'metta' meditation where you face each other and gaze into each other's eyes and do some deep breathing. Connect there with each other. Some say the eyes are the windows of the soul, and this will definitely bond you and make you feel more intimate," Sherman says. "Then say in your head, 'May you be at ease, may you be happy, may you be safe, may you be free.' Do this for 10 to 15 minutes as a way to be present with each other while in a state of love."