Marriage is a huge commitment, both personally and financially. That’s just one of the reasons today’s couples — Millennials especially — are waiting to tie the knot later in life.
If you’re ready to say yes to a serious relationship with your partner without making the marriage leap, here are some ways that you can show your commitment.
“People think that if they don’t get married, their level of commitment isn’t as serious, and I don’t think that is true,” says Jennifer Rhodes, licensed psychologist, founder of Rapport Relationships and author of the book Relationships Matter Most.
Talk with your partner about what commitment means to each of you so that you’re on the same page. Commitment can be defined in many ways, from exclusive dating to cohabitation. Both partners need agree on the promises and responsibilities of the relationship.
Honor your partner and relationship by establishing traditions. Attend annual food festivals, participate in athletic events, schedule a Friday night date night, or travel to a new country to celebrate your anniversary every other year. Rituals also are likely to bring you and your partner closer together.
Make a point to celebrate special occasions with one another, like birthdays, your dating anniversary and successes in your personal and work lives. “Celebrations make your relationship stronger throughout the year and set you up for success rather than failure,” Rhodes says.
Additionally, mark special occasions with sentimental gestures. Giving your partner a promise ring on a significant anniversary shows your love for and long-term commitment to them — without the pressure of marriage behind it. (Just make sure it’s very clear that you’re not proposing!)
Create a positive tone in your relationship by vocalizing more good than bad. Rhodes recommends following The Gottman Institute’s “magic relationship ratio” of having five or more positive interactions for every negative interaction.
Focus on giving validation and expressing gratitude. Compliment your partner’s appearance in the morning before they head off to the office. Ask them how their day was after work. Always thank them when they help with chores. Even small gestures, like holding hands or back rubs, boost positivity.
∼Write It Down∼
While vocalizing your love for one another is important, writing down your feelings is, too. Create a box where you and your partner can leave love notes on a regular basis—get creative with haikus, write a long letter professing your love, or just draw a silly picture. After a bad day, receiving a note will lift your partner’s spirits. Plus, love letters are fun to look back on.
∼Cohabitate With Intention∼
Don’t move in with each other out of convenience—for instance, because one person’s lease is up or you’re trying to save money. Before you make the move, really consider whether your relationship is ready for this next step. With your partner, make a list of why you both are excited to move in together, along with a list that explores your fears. Be sure to address any issues before making the move.
∼Talk About the Future∼
Schedule time to sit down and talk about important and emotional topics like careers, finances and the future of your relationship. “Every couple should have some kind of routine where once a week they have a serious talk rather than do it spur of the moment,” Rhodes says.
During serious discussions, be patient and listen to your partner. If the conversation takes a negative turn and someone is angry, stop the discussion before it turns into a fight and pick it up another time.
Guest Post Contributed by Larson Jewelers.