6 Signs You’re Dating A Narcissist


Narcissists, while exciting, charming, and intelligent, are like tornadoes.  They destroy everything in their path leaving you questioning how you missed the warning signs of the storm.  If you’ve found yourself in more than one relationship with a narcissist, don’t beat yourself up.  It can take time to peel back the wrapper and realize his or her behaviors are just a shiny guise.  You see, they are possibly trying to mask their inadequacies, low self-esteem, abandonment issues, and shame; so when you take things deeper, it rocks the boat.  It’s all or nothing with a narcissist but there are red flags you can identify before getting sucked into their swamp of insignificance.  

They look to you to define them and regulate their self-esteem

We all appreciate a genuine compliment, but narcissists take it a step further and expect this type of attention from you all the time.  Ultimately, their self-worth is based on how you and others view them.  However, they can’t take the good with the bad because a narcissist’s identity and self-esteem lies within the approval of others.  At the slightest hint of constructive feedback, they are on the defense.

Their high standards are to gain the approval of others

Narcissist will often set high, sometimes unrealistic, goals because they are interested in gaining the
approval of others and feeding their sense of specialness.  If you notice your partner is often setting new goals, for instance saying he wants to become a boxer or DJ out of the blue or randomly deciding she wants to go to law school, these life goals are more than likely based on winning someone’s approval.

They are not attuned to you or your feelings

Narcissists have a difficult time understanding their own feelings.  Therefore, they won’t be attuned to yours.  Simply stated, they lack empathy.  Because they feel their emotions in a very superficial sense, your emotions might be viewed as annoying or confrontational.  If viewed as the latter, the narcissist will be overly sensitive to your reactions because, ultimately, it impacts his or her self-image.  Also, they tend to overestimate their influence on others, believing that your world revolves around them.

Their relationships are superficial 

I’ve heard narcissists referred to as chocolate hollow bunnies, the wrapping is lovely but that’s all they have to offer.  Narcissists tend to have superficial, one-sided relationships that are engaged in for personal gain; therefore, most don’t have real friends.  Narcissists name-drop and view people as objects to promote their predominance.  They will lack genuine interest in you because you’re simply there to idolize them, love them, and make them look good.  If they are treating you like a trophy, that’s actually how they view you.  You were a prize to be won, possibly in a competition against friends, someone to maintain his or her reputation.  However, narcissists will quickly become disinterested when you don’t prove to be as superior in their eyes.  It’s no surprise they have a number of torrid affairs and dramatic breakups.    

They are entitled 

They are self-centered, condescending, and truly believe they are better and smarter than, well, everyone, even trained professionals.  I once had a narcissist tell me I “couldn’t out psychology him.”  They will dominate the room, conversations, and you.  Narcissists think they are entitled to the best of everything without having to put in time or energy, and they won’t bat an eye when they exploit you to meet a need.  They crave success and power and they are not humble when sharing their accomplishments.  After all, they are experts on, and have an opinion about, everything.  

They are constantly seeking attention  

Narcissists are in a constant quest for admiration.  If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, he or she is probably seeking attention from someone other than you.  They believe everyone loves them, and if a person doesn’t, he or she is simply jealous.  They need to be the center of attention and will disrespect your boundaries and manipulate you to meet their personal needs.  Again, you are simply there to admire and regulate their sense of self.

If these sound familiar, you might be dating a narcissist.  More than likely your partner will not change his or her ways and, for your own well-being, it might be time to set some healthy boundaries and move on.  Remember, it will more than likely only get worse.  Your partner will continue his or her pursuit of admiration to define his or her self-worth and lose interest in you, regardless of how great you are.

He Said/She Said: Blending a Blended Family


Dear Aaron & Rachel,

My first marriage was a huge, embarrassing failure. I won’t go into all the gory details about it but if should have married in the first place. But there’s only one problem: He and my son don’t get along very well. I think they’re just being territorial (Men!) because they actually have a lot in common. But whenever my boyfriend comes over my son is always asking how long he’s going to be here for and what we’re going to do. It seems like my son can’t wait for my boyfriend to leave.  there’s one good thing that came out of the marriage it was my now 9 year old son. I’ve been divorced for four years now and I think I found the man that I

My Son and Boyfriend Don't Get Along

I really love my new man, but I love my son, too. I’ve heard horror stories about blended families that don’t blend very well and how they can ruin relationships. How do I make sure this doesn’t happen to me? Is there anything I can do for the two men in my life to get along better?

She Said

Sorry to hear about your first marriage. Don't worry though: We all make mistakes. Like you pointed out, at least you've got your son out of it! What you are going through now sounds very normal. Your son is still very young and needs your love and attention. He is just concerned that your boyfriend will take your attention away from him. He may also be very protective of you to the point where he would act this way with any man.

You have to show your son that you won't allow your relationship with your boyfriend change your relationship with him. Make sure your son feels that he is your priority. Allow him to express his feelings about your boyfriend as long as he is not disrespectful to him. Talk to you boyfriend as well about how he feels about the situation and make sure he is on board with doing what is best for your son. Of course, make sure that the interaction will not hurt your romantic relationship either. You may feel you are caught in the middle and that it is all a bit of a balancing act. Perhaps, you can seek individual therapy for your son and family therapy with your boyfriend and son if things progress. The most important thing here is to make sure everyone's needs are met so that you can all peacefully coexist.

He Said

Blending a blended family is hardly ever easy. But starting right now while you're still dating is the perfect place to start. Your boyfriend is not your son's biological father and can never replace him. But as a responsible adult, he needs to be recognized as such by your son. You can help do this by talking to your son about your man in courteous, respectful and loving ways. Let your son know you love your man and all the good traits why you love him. But balance it with telling your son why you love him, too and all the good things about him you like. 

It's possible (and likely). too that your son is worried about changing his lifestyle now that you're dating another man. A lot of times children don't want their biological parent replaced. And they also don't want to change their lifestyle (changing schools, finding new friends, etc.) when one of their parents gets remarried. These are all understandable concerns and are very important to a 9 year old. Assure your son that no one is trying to replace his father. And talk frankly with him about what changes will and won't happen. And more importantly, try to make the transitions as easy on your son as possible 

About Rachel:  Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. You can find her at RachelRusso.com.

About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.

Creating a Positive Co-parenting Relationship After Divorce


You never thought you’d be divorced but it seems like a cruel punishment that you have to keep dealing with your ex in a co-parenting arrangement. Part of you might be wishing that your ex would just disappear and leave all the parenting up to you; or maybe you wish that your ex-spouse would step up and do MORE of the parenting! Either way it is not easy sharing the sacred job of raising kids with a person whom you barely see eye to eye with anymore. What can you do to make this hurtful and awkward time as healthy as possible for your kids? First of all, realize that divorce is a process not an event! Just because the divorce papers are signed, sealed and delivered does NOT mean that you or your former spouse are emotionally divorced from each other. The legal divorce and the emotional divorce are two very different things. For example, you may be still be fighting that same old fight any time you are forced to talk about the parent-teacher meetings or the registration fee for summer camp. Instead of figuring out the best schedule for junior, you find yourself telling him the 100 ways he screwed it up or you are reminded about your inability to manage a check book! If this continues to happen know that you need help to extricate yourself from the dysfunctional patterns of the marriage and find a way into a new, healthier co-parenting relationship. Here are some proven guidelines to get that process underway:

Tips for  Positive Co-Parenting After Divorce

1. Put boundaries around your conversations. Prior to speaking to your ex have a clear script about what is ON topic and what is OFF topic. When you find that you or your ex starts to wander off into the old business of the marriage find a quick way to refocus the conversation back into the needs of your child. If this seems impossible (either you want to know if she is dating again or if he has gotten that hoped for promotion) you may decide that you need to communicate by text or e-mail. Before hitting send re-read your message several times to make sure that you are only talking about the welfare of your kids.

2. Limit the amount of conversation. If communication seems impossible but you must talk, schedule it in small sound bites and preferably when your kids cannot overhear the tension in your voice or the blame in your former spouse’s. Kids need to be protected from the negativity that is often associated with the emotional divorce. Blame and tension are actually pretty normal responses to divorce yet your kids need to be removed from the negativity and hurt. Limit your conversations to only a few minutes. If you need to rehash events from the past make sure to do it away from the kids.

3. Consider a middle man for the time being. If you just cannot seem to get anywhere in your conversations without it devolving into name calling and blaming you may need a third party to help you through. Perhaps there is a friend or family member who has your kids’ best interest at heart. He or she may have the ability to reason with you both. It is important to understand that the middle man is holding the space until you both can settle into the co-parenting relationship in a healthy way. If there is no one in your community of friends or family who can do this seriously consider hiring a Family therapist for the time being. Family Therapists are trained to help you both communicate with each other in helpful ways. And unlike other mental health providers they can work with you BOTH to get to a better place.

Your kids really need you both and the sooner you can figure out how to effectively co-parent the better for them and for you!

Roxanne Bamond, Ph.D., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping individuals and couples to create healthy relationships. She also assists and helps individuals through transitional difficulties such as a divorce, separation, or life crisis.

6 Ways to Spice up the Bedroom


As humans, most of us are creatures of habit.  While this is great for meeting the daily demands of our busy schedule, routine in the bedroom can create a sexual rut between you and your partner. Look, no one – I mean no one – wants to know exactly what his or her partner is going to do next in the bedroom.  So, if you can rattle off your sexual routine, it’s time to spice things up.  Read on for tips on how to break out of that boring, habitual sequence and add a little more sizzle between the sheets.

6 Ways to Spice up the Bedroom

1) Don’t Forget the Foreplay. Guys, by now most of you have figured out that it takes a woman longer to reach her moment of bliss than you.  However, even with this information, foreplay seems to be given about as much time and energy as scheduling your next colonoscopy.  Remember, sex is a marathon, not a sprint.  If you want your lady to orgasm, give her a little extra time and attention. Kiss her, hug her, and stimulate her erogenous zones.  Ladies, foreplay is everyone’s job, a little oral stimulation shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions.

2) Put on a Show. Does your partner have a fantasy of you dressed in lingerie or some other sexy outfit?  Give him or her what she wants!  Send the kids to the neighbor’s and cook dinner in the nude or in some sexy lingerie that will simulate the visual senses. Men’s and women’s outfits, and accessories get your creative juices flowing.  Your goal is to make sure your partner cannot take his or her eyes off you.

3) Role-play. Play out his or her fantasy.  Start small if you are feeling uncomfortable with your partner’s request.  Remember to pay attention to your sexual boundaries and only engage in acts you are comfortable with.  If you are not into dominating him or indulging in her fantasy, do not push yourself out of your comfort zone.  Talk about your fantasy, answer questions, establish boundaries, and then have some fun.

4) Take It Out of the Bedroom. If you always have sex in the bed, try it against the wall, a chair in Sex should be fun.  It’s okay to mix up the environment and get a little action in the shower or on the living room floor.  If you are worried about the children, you can stick to the bedroom but try to mix it up.
the bedroom, or the kitchen counter.

5) Bring in Props. To bring a little extra spice to your sexual rendezvous, introduce handcuffs, scarves, whips, or vibrators.  How you and your partner decide to play with these toys is completely up to you, but remember to do it in a way that feels safe for both of you.  These little teasers will definitely heighten your sexual encounter.

6) Have a Little Dessert.  At the end of a normal day, bring some whipped cream and chocolate sauce into the bedroom and lick it off your partner.  For some added fun, give your partner full control of spraying the cream or drizzling the chocolate on his or her own body and instructing you where to lick.  If you’re not into the idea of the mess or additional calories before bed, run ice cubes up and down your partner’s body and lick off the water.  The combination of cold and hot is sure to intensify the experience.
As one of my best friends so delicately put it, life’s too short for boring sex.  If you are just going through the motions, remember the kitchen isn’t the only place there should be a little sizzle.  To switch things up, try one or all of these tips.  Just remember, if you are feeling uncomfortable, take things slow and communicate with your partner.  This should be a fun experience for both of you!

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in their relationship. She also helps couples rebuild happiness together so they can have the fulfilling relationship with their partner they've always wanted.

Why Your Defensiveness Is Destroying Your Marriage


The title of this blog is really only appropriate for screaming in support of your favorite sports team. But I thought it was catchy, thus why I’ve titled this blog after today’s hot topic – defensiveness in relationships. This is part 2 of 4 blogs detailing the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse.

Defensiveness is something I see more often than not in my office. In fact, one of the comments I make to couples is “affairs, lies, cheating, etc. are not what break a relationship apart! Rather the inability to take responsibility for one’s actions after they have caused hurt is one of the causes of ending a relationship”. Here are three reasons defensiveness rips a relationship apart.

Defensiveness Blames Your Partner

Making your actions the blame of your partner: Yep…when you defend why you belittled, cheated on, lied, hurt, or whatever negative action you’ve done to your partner you are in essence making your decision their problem. Say you had a physical or emotional affair with another person…say you get caught! What do you do? Well if you’re defensive you will probably say something like “well you weren’t there for me…you didn’t have enough sex with me…it’s like you don’t even know me…etc.”! All of that and more is you defending yourself and placing blame on your partner. Your actions are your responsibility…No one makes your decisions for you!!!

Defensiveness Minimizes Your Responsibility and Your Partner

Minimizing how your partner feels about your wrong doing will cause what I call the “Crazy Thoughts”. Brushing off, not acknowledging, and minimizing your actions are perfect examples. For example, say you forget an important date and defensively brush it off as being busy at work, or you forgot, or it’s no big deal…it makes your partner stop and reevaluate how important they are to you. Your partner will begin to wonder “am I crazy for expecting him/her to show up”? “I guess it’s not really a big deal if they don’t come to my award ceremony”. Really, your partner is second guessing how important they are to you. Minimizing your actions cuts your partner down little by little.

Defensiveness Makes Your Partner Defensive

Defensiveness also will often lead your partner into becoming defensive and create a merry-go-round of arguing. This cyclone storm of crap being slung from your lips and your partners lips tends to lead to confusion. Ever wonder why/how the argument started in the first place? Well, friends, this all started with defensiveness and hurtful words you flung at your partner.

So what is the remedy for defensiveness? Responsibility. Take responsibility for your choices and actions. When you take responsibility, your partner will most likely soften toward you and be willing to forgive and work through the situation with you. Taking ownership of your choices allows your partner to be responsible for their own actions and end repetitive arguing. Your responsibility also gives your partner an opportunity to accept and recognize their importance to you and the relationship. Acknowledging the hurt you’ve caused allows you and your partner an opportunity to work on the relationship instead of questioning the value of the relationship.

Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.

3 Reasons Why Your Sex Life Sucks


Everyone knows that marriage isn't all roses. Yes, there are still Prince Charming fallacies out there where people think that marriage will be mostly like a fairy tale, but for the most part people seem to understand that marriage is also a lot of work. Unfortunately, people still don't understand just how much work it is. Don't get me wrong, marriage is one of the greatest things in the world, but it's also one of the most trying things. And nowhere is this more evident than in the bedroom.  

If you're like most couples your fights in the bedroom are usually about one 1 of 2 things: 1) your partner wants sex all the time. And because they want sex so much you feel pressured, used, and feel like your spouse only wants you for sex. Or 2) Your partner never wants sex. Because of this you feel rejected, shut down, and unloved. You think your partner doesn't want you for anything more than just a roommate.

Because you and your partner can't make any resolutions about sex, you fight back and forth trying to tell each other how you feel but it doesn't seem to get you anywhere. And this wouldn't be so bad if your fights stayed inside the bedroom. But whenever you fight about sex there's distance and tension for a couple days afterwards. If only you could find out why you fight so much. If only you could understand why you and your partner can't come up with a resolution to your sexual problems. Well, look no further. I have three right reasons for you right here:

3 Reasons Your Sex Life Sucks

1) You're not putting in enough effort outside the bedroom. You've heard this before, but no matter how cliche' it is, it's true. You really do have to put in effort outside the bedroom in order for it to be great inside the bedroom. The truth is, the bedroom is a metaphor for the rest of the relationship. If you have a bad relationship outside the bedroom, you can't have a great relationship inside the bedroom. You just can't let yourself go sexually with someone you don't like. So delve deep and try to find out what's going on that's keeping you two from connecting. This applies to the low libido spouse, too. It's not your spouse's job to woo you and make you feel like having sex. You have work to do outside the bedroom, too, in order to find out why you're resenting sex so much. 

2) Your expectations are too high. Everyone has seen movies with gratuitous sex scenes in them. In the scene(s) it probably showed a couple who were mutually into whatever the other person was doing. For example, he would pin her against the wall and start kissing her while she'd wrap her legs around him and kiss him back as though she couldn't get enough of him. Or they would go out on a romantic date in the picturesque part of town to the new, trendy restaurant and walk home together while they both talked about their deepest secrets. The truth is, your partner might not be in to being pinned against the wall. And they might not be in to long walks and fancy restaurants, either. If you think this is what marriage is supposed to be like, you need to stop watching so many movies. 

The truth is, your partner usually doesn't magically know everything that they like. Sure, things look good in the movies but the actors are paid to make it look that way. Trying those things in real life feels a lot different. Plus, your partner changes with time. They might not like the same things they used to like. Instead of assuming your marriage is supposed to be like you see in the movies, talk openly with your partner about what they like and what they don't. Experiment openly with them

3) You're selfish. This is the hard news that nobody wants to hear. You'd rather believe that it's your spouse's fault your sex life sucks. After all, if they'd just stop wanting sex so much, or if they'd just start wanting sex more, then your sex life would dramatically improve. But you're contributing to your sexual problems, too. And the most common way you're contributing to the problems is that you're being selfish. 

It's a selfish position to believe your spouse should satisfy all your sexual needs. It's also a selfish position to deny your partner's sexual needs Either way, if you weren't being so selfish, your partner would feel more loved, more sexual, and your problems would decrease - a lot. So, get over yourself and focus on your spouse more - whatever their needs/desires are. 

Stop The Stalemate

Yes, it would be nice if your spouse would stop being so selfish and think about you more. But you don't have to wait for them in order to begin making your relationship better. You can start taking unilateral actions to make your relationship better. Working on any of the three things above are a great start to getting your sex life back on track. Instead of waiting for them, go ahead and make the first move. You might just get lucky!

How to Put a Little Romance Back Into Your Life


No matter who you are or how long you’ve been with your partner, it’s always a good idea to make a keeping the excitement alive in your relationship. Of course, the longer you’ve been with your partner, the harder it can be to come up with new, original ideas for exciting date nights and romantic ideas. The best way to surprise your partner with something romantic and special is to think about what makes your partner unique. When you think of things your partner loves, how are those things just so him/her? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
regular habit of

Go Old School

Is your partner a total romantic? The type who loves old romance movies and wanted a big, glamorous wedding? For the romantic partner, make little statements of love and romance a regular part of your routine. Bring home rose bouquets on Tuesday nights. Surprise her with a new piece of jewelry on your next date. Send candy or flowers to her work for no reason. Even if your partner isn’t the traditional romantic type, he or she is bound to love these kinds of romantic gestures.

Recreate Your Wedding or First Date

This would be a great thing to do for a wedding anniversary, the anniversary of your engagement, or the anniversary of your first date.  You could even combine all three if you were really feeling ambitious! Take your partner on a trip to visit all of the locations that have been significant for your relationship: the bridge where you had your first kiss, the restaurant where you proposed, etc. If you had a destination wedding and can’t easily revisit, recreate the look and feel of the wedding in your own home. Try and reimagine the decorations on a smaller scale and cook a meal that is similar to your wedding dinner. Get out your wedding vows and read them to each other or watch your old wedding videos. You should also make general date nights a mandatory and weekly event for your marriage when possible!

Take Some “Us” Time

One of the worst things you can do in a relationship is to forget to give yourselves time for just the two of you. If you find that you’re both too exhausted at the end of the work day to do couple-y things, it may help you to actually schedule in time where you will do things one on one. This may take some getting used to, but you will be glad you took the time and effort to spend time together once you realize the positive effects on your relationship.

It can be difficult to keep the sparks flying when you have kids, so scheduling mandatory date nights is especially important. Hire a sitter and try out a new restaurant, go to a concert, or go wine tasting. A little time away from the kids will help you rekindle the flame and remember why you are together in the first place!

It may be helpful for you to plan to do specific things together. For example, plan to go to a specific restaurant on Friday night. Plan to go for a picnic on Saturday and actually buy the ingredients for your picnic lunch in advance so you will be sure to actually do it. This may not be the kind of spontaneity that you would hope for in a relationship, but it’s a much better option than failing to do stuff together because you’re both too tired all the time!

If spontaneity is what you really want but it’s just not going to work with your partner, try to find a way to compromise. If you’d love to be able to just swing by in the middle of the day and take your partner out to lunch just for fun, instead try letting your partner know in advance that you would like to take him or her out to lunch on a specific day. This way, you will get to have a nice lunch together as a break from routine, but you won’t be disappointed when your partner is unable to get away in the middle of the work day without advanced notice.

Do New Things

Psychologists suggest that couples who try new things together are better able to recreate the brain chemistry of the early days of their romance. All the fun and excitement of breaking routine, trying something new, and maybe even trying something a bit scary will make you feel closer. So if you’ve had something you’ve been wanting to try like painting or rock climbing, tell your partner you’d like to take him or her on a date to try something new. Before you try the new activity, surprise them with their very own paintbrushes or rock climbing shoes to get them even more excited. It’s up to you if you think it’s better to keep the activity a surprise or give them some advanced warning, though most people probably wouldn’t be too thrilled about being pressured into something too scary!

If you can’t think of anything you’ve been wanting to try, pick something you’d never think you would enjoy and just give it a shot! If you’re doing it together, it’s bound to be fun.

Make Romance a Habit

The best long-term strategy for keeping your relationship interesting is to make romance into a long-term habit. So instead of trying something once and then dropping it, make sure you do something special for your partner every week, even if it’s something as small as doing a chore for them before they ask you to do it or picking up that new paperback they’ve been wanting to read. Just taking a little time and giving a little thought will work wonders for your relationship.

20 Creative Ways to Create Fun With your Partner


Fun?  Now you’re probably thinking, who has time for that?  However, playing and having fun with your partner not only strengthens your bond, it also increases your level of satisfaction with the relationship.  While it’s normal for you to get comfortable as the relationship carries on and fall into a mundane daily routine, you want to continue adding spice to your relationship in order to keep things fresh and – well – fun!  Think about it, when was the last time you took time to enjoy one another’s company?  If you and your partner are feeling more like roommates than lovers, it might just be time to reintroduce a little play back into the relationship.

Check out the list below for ideas on how to add a little playfulness to your partnership.  Can’t find a babysitter for the night?  No problem.  Some of these ideas are great for the whole family.

20 Ways to Create Fun With Your Partner and Family

Join a league
Whether it’s soccer, bowling, or volleyball, joining a league gives you and your partner a weekly activity to engage in together.  Bonus: you can meet new people.

Go for a drive
Drive to a new town or no place in particular.  Going for a drive gives you uninterrupted time together.  Take along a list of questions or car games to engage one another.

Take a class
Maybe you’ve always wanted to moonlight as a chef or bartender.  If you and your partner have a weekend free, you could take a cooking class, learn to make cheese, discover the process of home brewing, or attend a do-it-yourself workshop at Home Depot.

Do something spontaneous
Try skydiving, going for a hot air balloon ride, or braving the zip line.  When you wake up in the morning, decide on an activity and go!

Try something new
Maybe it’s a new food, a new style of music, or activity.  When you and your partner try something new together, it can become a fun onetime thing or your new thing!

Read a book
Pick out a book and take turns reading to one another and discussing the plot.

Have a pillow fight
As you’re taking all the pillows off to turn down the bed, toss one playfully at your partner.  Your silly pillow fight might just end in some kissing and canoodling.

Move the couch and dance
Have a dance off in your living room.  You can really get crazy because no one is watching.  Try channeling your inner Baby and Johnny and recreate a scene from Dirty Dancing.

Binge watch your favorite show
Take a few hours or the weekend – no judgments – to catch up on your favorite show together or introduce your partner to a new show you discovered.  Just remember to binge responsibly.

Introduce a little healthy competition
Challenge each other!  See who can fold the laundry or win the race around the park.  Adding a little competition to anything you do will make it that much more fun.  Have prizes for a bonus.

Play strip poker
If cards aren’t your thing, any game will work.  Just mix up the rules and you and your partner are off to an intimate evening together.

Create a fort and camp in the living room
Forts aren’t just for kids.  Pull out all the blankets and pillows and create a cozy place to snuggle up for the night.

Buy a Groupon and give it a try
For those on a budget, Groupons are such a great way to get out of the house.  You can try a restaurant or activity for about half the original cost!

Try a new restaurant
Always wanted to try Ethiopian food but never gave it a go?  You and your partner can try a new food or restaurant to expand your palates.

Play a prank on one another
As long at it’s not over the top, pranks can add a little fun to the day.  Change the language setting on his cell phone or leave her a ransom note for her running shoes.

Picnic in the park
Spread out a blanket and some tapas.  Voila!

Go to a game
Cheap seats, sun, and your partner; does it get any better?  Checking out a baseball game this summer will give you the chance to get your tan on and catch up with your partner.

A canvas, a wall, or one another; painting allows you to unleash your creative side and your inner child for a little fun.  Hang your art in the bedroom for a reminder.

Give each other a massage
Light candles and pick up some body oil.  Take turns giving each other back or head massages to help release some of the tension from the day.

Plan your dream vacation
Whether or not you can afford to take a vacation right now, planning a dream vacation with your partner can be fun and give you a common goal to work toward together.

With summer already here, these 20 things will give you plenty of things to do during your downtime to make your summer more fun and more creative than ever!

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in their relationship. She also helps couples rebuild happiness together so they can have the fulfilling relationship with their partner they've always wanted.

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