5 Ways to Avoid Complacency In Our Relationship


Ivan here. Just wanted to recommend John Steinbeck’s moving letter to his son on falling in love. Words to live by. And now, here’s Jennie.

Jennie here.

I’d like to begin with a truth that Ivan and I both believe: being complacent (in any way) will ruin your life.

Ivan and I have been together for almost eight years -- six years of it was long distance. Even though we’ve only been living together for the last two years, we often fear complacency in our relationship and with our lives overall.

Whenever we catch ourselves feeling too comfortable we begin to fret that it’s the beginning of the end.

Is this normal?

When it comes to relationships, complacency is more subtle and can easily seep into everyday life and begin to eat away at the foundation. Over time, it's only natural for couples to become comfortable with each other and fall into a routine. But in long-term relationships, routine can also be rampant breeding grounds for boredom, frustration, and stale ambitions. The whole point of The Origami Life is to try and craft a lifestyle designed to combat these forces.

Here are some ways we’ve managed to evade complacency (so far):

We argue for sport (and intimacy).

A habit formed in the early days of our relationship. Arguing for us is about not needing to pretend or hold back what we actually think or feel about a particular topic or issue; in a weird way, it can actually be kind of intimate and fun we're a no bullshit couple and it's much easier just to say what we're thinking (almost as soon as we’re thinking it) instead of bottling it up inside.

We breakfast together.

This is a newer activity for us but we've started to go on [very cheap] morning coffee/breakfast dates together. It's a daily cadence that jumpstarts our mornings. A 30 minute coffee break gives us a chance to talk and share goals/ideas and often spurs new creative ideas for Ivan’s freelancing and for our blog.

We try to find a purpose.

We talk about the future constantly and it actually makes us happier. In fact, having a short-term goal of round the world travel and the long-term goal of a nomadic lifestyle has really given us something to look forward to. A purpose. What kind of mindset we want to be in our relationship, careers, and finances. What are some things we’re willing to sacrifice today so that we can get to where we want to go?

We turn off all electronics by 9pm.

Most days sort of blend into the others and we’ve found it difficult to find a sense of balance in our lives. One of the things that have helped us is turning off electronics by 9pm. It gives us a chance to cut through the constant noise of politics, stressful issues, projects, work, etc. Instead, we try to read in bed (or I'll draw and Ivan reads). When we do that, it feels like we've accomplished a minor goal at the end of the day.

We write each other emails.

This is a habit we picked up during our years of long distance. We write each other emails when I’m at work and Ivan’s at home. From time to time, we'll send out a funny, quippy email with a link to something and other times, it'll be us rehashing an argument over email.

It's not easy to avoid complacency but those are the ways that are unique to our relationship and have kept us moving forward. We’d love to hear from our readers. How do you and your partner/spouse avoid complacency in your relationship or in your life?