For some reason we’ve managed to convince ourselves that you can only invest in your relationship if you’ve got money.
How many times do you say to yourself “I’ll treat him to something nice when I’ve got a bit more money” or “if only I had some more cash I would take my man out for dinner?
Well lovely, I’m here to tell you that you can totally invest in your relationship, without spending even one penny.
Before we go any further let’s have a quick look at why you should be investing in your relationship. I mean, why bother? Maybe you’ve already said “I do” to a roomful of loved ones, so you’re all good.
Let me get you to cast your mind back to the early days of your relationship. When you first got together. Or first got engaged. Or first got married. Remember then?
Do you remember the absolute buzz, energy, excitement and sheer, unadulterated happiness that you felt at that time?
Let’s face it, if you could bottle that feeling you’d be the richest person alive.
Now, wouldn’t it be amazing to feel anywhere near that happy, fulfilled and full of love again?
Do you remember that you were Teflon back then? No matter what bad stuff happened to you it just slid off?
Your boss yelled at you? Nothing.
You got a parking ticket? Shrugs.
Your neighbour’s dog barked all night? Whatevs.
Do you still need me to spell out why you should be working on your relationship?
Now to the reason you’re not investing in your relationship.
There’s no spare cash around. Life is expensive (especially if kids feature in it). And spending money on your relationship is not high up on the list.
What can you do to work on your relationship without having to open your wallet?
I’m delighted to tell you that there are TONS of things you can do that won’t cost a cent.
Now if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter you’ll know that money isn’t so much of an issue for us these days.
BUT for a lot of our relationship we’ve had to watch our outgoings. (That’s often the case when you set up businesses and move countries like we do, it means you have to be a bit frugal!)
When Léna was a baby, Ben and I had just set up our own business. So we had a newborn, were working every hour under the sun to get our business off the ground and watched every penny – it was either invested in the business or put in our safety net.
At that time we came up with lots of tactics to keep our relationship going strong that cost nothing. It was doubly important as we had the stress of the new business, coupled with being new parents too!
Here are a few ways to invest in your relationship without spending money
1) Words cost nothing.
When was the last time you told your partner that you loved him? That he looked good? That you were proud of him? That he is sexy?
When was the last time you said thank you to your partner for something “everyday” that he did for you? Like making you a cup of tea in the morning. Or filling your car up for you. Or buying your favourite breakfast cereal for you on his way home from work?
If you’re in a bad place you might be saying to yourself “yeah, but he never says anything nice to me!”. But you know what? The more you say “I love you, I’m proud of you, thank you” the harder it is for your partner to not respond in kind.
And these words will start to thaw any coldness there might be, as well as start to rekindle those early days of crazy love.
But words aren’t everything. You need action too.
2) Don’t just say it, show it!
People get confused about taking action to show they love their partner. They take their cue from retailers and the media.
DON’T DO THIS!!!
You do not need to buy your husband an Apple Watch to show him you love him. He doesn’t need to buy you flowers every day to convince you of his love for you.
Love and relationships are big business. If you feel like a bad wife because you didn’t buy a good enough / big enough / expensive enough present for your husband then you’re likely to go out and spend. So marketers the world over will make you feel you didn’t do enough. (Believe me – I’ve got enough experience of working in PR and Marketing to know it’s all about the bottom line.)
So what should you be doing?
- Give your husband a hug and a kiss when you see each other after work. Instead of starting with “the hot water’s on the blink, Harry has just peed all over the new rug and someone dented the side of the car today!”
It’s easy to go straight into “war zone mode” at the end of the day, but by taking just a few seconds to squeeze your person, and to connect with a kiss, you reconnect as a team, rather than soldiers on opposing sides.
- Offer to do things or help with things rather than complaining that he doesn’t pull his weight. This might sound counter-intuitive but – in most relationships – if one partner is offering to help or makes a nice gesture it’s hard to not reciprocate.
Just one example – this weekend Ben brought me breakfast in bed for the first time in a while, and it was WONDERFUL!! So the next day I offered to do the same for him, also for the first time in ages. I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought of it if he hadn’t done it first. Not because I don’t want to but just because it didn’t cross my mind.
- Recognise when he is struggling with something and be there. Maybe he is having issues at work that are stressing him out. Whilst you don’t know his business you can still offer to be a sounding board. Or perhaps he is a Saturday footballer and his game has been off recently, remind him that you still love him, he’ll always be the world’s best footballer in your eyes and that you’re sure it’s just a bad patch.
I’m sure you’re no super model (because who is?) but when your man tells you that you’re the most beautiful, sexiest woman alive it still gives you warm, fuzzy feelings. You can do that for him too.
3) Schedule in Couple Time
You might have 10 children under 12. You could have zero childcare and less than zero money. You might feel like you’re going to drop from exhaustion. But you still must schedule in couple time.
Because you know what? It’s really easy not to. And not to some more. Until your couple no longer exists. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
If you are so tired and stressed from your 10 children you can make this a really quick dinner, just the two of you with no phones and no TV.
You can’t cook / have no energy to cook? Then I invite you to try out my favourite dinner of all time:
- Get a decent sized potato. Cut out any eyes or manky bits. Scrub it quickly.
- Stab it and put it in the oven at about 180ºC for about 1 hour. If you don’t have an hour, zap it in the microwave and finish it off for 10 mins in the oven on high heat.
- Heat up a tin of baked beans.
- Cut open your potato, add butter and grated cheese (Cheddar preferably), serve with the beans. If you need meat add a slice of ham.
Voilà! A quick, easy, cheap meal that will make you feel good too.
There really is no excuse here.
When you have more time or energy, make an effort with your dinner. Try out a fancier recipe or rustle up an old favourite.
Put on some music – I LOVE the various Café del Mar playlists on Spotify for some chillout, background music.
Light some candles.
Lay the table up nicely.
Make an effort, wash the baby sick out of your hair, put on a dress, a bit of make-up, heels even.
You don’t have to do it every day. But once a week should do the trick.
It doesn’t have to be expensive food. You don’t have to have wine (although it is a nice touch!).
Got kids that need your attention?
I used to be a childminder and I’m certain there’s a way here.
Babies – if they’re not in bed asleep then try them in a rocker chair / a Bumbo / a playpen / a Jumparoo. Failing that how about in a sling on you? Tends to be the best place for them to fall asleep / be quiet.
Toddlers – if they’re not asleep then TV or iPads are your friend. Whilst screens are not the answer, sometimes they just are.
Older children – bribery and corruption work well. “If you go to your room early you can watch a film there / tomorrow you can stay up late.”
Got friends with small kids too? Offer some swapsies childcare – “any chance you can have Alfie and Meg on Friday evening this week and we’ll take your two next week?” Most people will jump at the chance. If not try other friends. Or the grandparents / uncles / aunts / godparents.
I am absolutely convinced that there is always a way.
We live in a consumer-obsessed society. And on top of that social media will do its best to make you feel inadequate or unloved.
So please, I beg of you, flip society the bird and invest in your relationship with the time and the budget that you have. Try your best not be a little green-eyed monster if your best friend’s husband is constantly buying her jewellery. Maybe he doesn’t make her cry with laughter like yours does.
Remember what you’ve got. Appreciate and be grateful for what you’ve got. And go that extra mile to show just how much you love your special person. You’ll both be glad you did.
If you’re feeling a bit meh about your relationship or about life in general it might be time to look into that a bit more closely lovely. Grab my 10 day guide to falling (back) in love with your life here and start turning things around for yourself.
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