Just as muscles atrophy, or shrink and weaken, with lack of use relationships atrophy when the actions required to keep them strong are neglected. Most people understand that if you want to keep your body fit and healthy then you have to exercise fairly consistently. We do not gain strength or endurance by occasionally attempting to run a marathon.

Likewise our relationship will not remain healthy and strong if we occasionally make heroic efforts. If the daily courtesies are neglected the efforts to wow or impress on special occasions will not have the desired impact.

To keep your relationship fit and healthy it is important to consistently take action. Just as with a fitness program, you need to begin where you are and gradually improve. It is important to develop a fitness routine for your relationship. Repetition builds habits; habits ensure continued repetition.
Just as fitness is not something that you work toward, achieve and then coast on what you have done in the past, relationship fitness is an ongoing process. No one would expect that because they ran, danced or skated competitively 2 years ago, they would be able to do so now, if they had done little or no training over the past two years. In as little as two weeks of inactivity muscles start to atrophy. The same can be said of relationships; even short periods of neglect can take a toll on the strength of a relationship.

The following are some suggestions for actions that you can take to strengthen your relationship:

Daily Actions
• Say I love you; more importantly behave as if you do.
• Be respectful, kind and thoughtful,
• Express gratitude to each other,
• Hug, 4-6 times for at least 20 seconds each time
• Talk for at least 10 minutes
• Be present; look at and notice your partner
• Laugh with each other

Weekly Actions
• Go on a date alone as a couple; be present with each other, smile, laugh and enjoy
• Reserve at least 30 minutes for the two of you to meet for planning and dreaming

Monthly Actions
• Do something different
• Try something new
• Learn something together or learn something and share with each other
• Volunteer or find someone to help as a couple
• Contribute to a cause, not just money, but contribute time and energy.

Yearly Actions
• Plan and go on a couples get-away, again just the two of you.

You have probably heard that love is a verb. Love is not just something that we feel; it is usually something that we feel because of what we do. Participating in the aerobics and strength training for your relationship will not only help your partner feel loved, it will also increase your loving feelings toward them.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Derry, B.Ed., M.S.Psy., R.P.C., C.P.C.
Professional Counselor & Life Coach

Co-author of Marriage Prep: Beginnings a downloadable marriage preparation course
Co-author of Intimate Sex: Manual for Lovemaking, a sex manual for couples
Offers a free Nurturing Marriage Ezine