If you are in a long-term relationship, or even married, you have probably realized by now that the initial “fluttering” of your heart when you see your partner, along with the other bodily excitements that accompany a new relationship, have been replaced with a variety of different feelings and emotions. Some of these feelings and emotions may leave you wondering “What’s wrong with us?” or “Are we falling out of love?” You will be relieved to know that this may not always be the case.
I have worked in the San Diego, La Jolla, Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Encinitas and Oceanside areas for over 35 years, specializing in Couples Counseling and Marriage Counseling. Worry not; there is hope for you and your partner! These feelings you are having are completely normal. Perhaps you are just bored with the daily routine of your lives and are looking for some advice to spice things up again and rekindle the romance that was once so central to your relationship. In fact, Robert Billingham, an associate Professor in Indiana University Bloomington’s Department of Applied Health Science, says that the body chemistry that occurs during a new relationship changes after several years of being together, and is replaced with chemistry that is more attachment-oriented.
Couples often make the mistake of assuming that relationships and marriages are not something that requires ongoing work. In fact, the opposite is true. Relationships and marriages require a lot of hard work, perseverance, understanding, and above all: good communication skills. Like a plant, love requires constant and careful attention in order to survive and flourish.
Remember, you are not alone. In fact, many couples seek out ways to “relight the fire” in their relationship and become discouraged if they cannot figure out how to do so. So when the inevitable problems in the relationship arise, couples have a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of their relationship, forgetting or dismissing the positive factors completely. Keep in mind, you have made it this far, and that in itself is something to be proud of and is worthy of celebration!
Keeping the romance alive in your relationship may sound like a daunting task, but here are 10 simple ways to inject a little bit of romance into your long-term relationship or marriage that should help spice things back up again!
- Schedule Regular Date Nights: This may be easier for some couples and more difficult for others, depending on work situations or if the couple has children. Regardless, making time for one another is important in a relationship, and scheduling regular “date” nights is a great way to do that! So hire a babysitter (if necessary), put on your good clothes, tidy yourself up a bit, and go out on a date with your partner! It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, and of course your date night will depend on your budget and financial situation. For instance, you could go out for dinner to a nice restaurant in La Jolla, spend the night at a hotel in San Diego, or simply go to the local movie theater together. It doesn’t really matter what you are doing or how much money you are spending, just as long as you are spending quality time with one another. When work, school, and family life get hectic, it can be hard to go on an impromptu date or be spontaneous, so scheduling is key here. Even if you can only afford to do this once per month, it is still worthwhile because it is providing you with something to look forward to and is scheduled in advance to ensure your evening is uninterrupted and the focus remains on the two of you together.
- Take a Walk Together: Walking is not only good exercise, but it also allows for you and your partner to be together and reflect on the day’s events. Getting fresh air and exercise is important for maintaining good health, so making this an activity (at least once a week) that you can do with your partner will be beneficial in more ways than one. Even if you don’t have a lot to talk about one particular day, you can just get outside and enjoy the natural beauty that the San Diego area has to offer. Or you could head to the beaches near La Jolla or Oceanside and take a stroll along the sand. As long as you’re walking together, the location is irrelevant! Holding hands as you’re walking will also help you to feel not only physically connected, but emotionally connected to your partner.
- Express Gratitude Toward Your Partner: This can be done in several simple ways. For instance, you could leave Post-It notes around the house (or in places you know your partner will find) with messages such as “I love you more than anything” or “I am so happy that you are a part of my life”. Little reminders like this not only make a person feel good about themselves and the relationship, but also make them feel loved and appreciated for all that they are. It is always nice to know that someone is thinking of you and is grateful for who you are. Another way you can express gratitude and show respect toward your partner is by actively listening to him/her. This will make your partner feel as though what he/she is saying is important and that you care about his/her thoughts and feelings.
- Surprise Your Partner: It is all-too-easy to get caught up in our daily routines, and this can become mind-numbing and boring after some time. Try spicing things up every now and then by surprising your partner, even with small, inexpensive things. For example, you could contact your partner’s family and ask if there was anything from his/her childhood that he/she had always wanted to receive as a gift but never did, and then purchase that “something” for your partner. This could be a birthday gift or simply a random, surprise gift! Either way, it will show your partner that you are thoughtful and put some realeffort into surprising him/her. However, surprises don’t always have to be gifts of monetary value (i.e. flowers or chocolates), but could also include things like cooking your partner his/her favorite meal, or renting his/her favorite movie and watching it together on the couch. Ladies: Perhaps you normally sleep in an old T-shirt and sweat pants (Why not? It sure is comfortable!). You could surprise your partner some time by purchasing some lingerie and “dressing up for bed” a little. This will likely excite him and catch him off-guard, thus achieving the intended goal of surprising him!
- Focus on the Positive: Problems in relationships are inevitable, which is why relationships and marriages require ongoing work and effort. While it is easy to focus on the negative aspects of your relationship, particularly when you are in the middle of a disagreement, try focusing on the positive characteristics as well! For instance, focus on things like how much you love one another and why you are in this relationship in the first place. Ask yourself if your partner respects you, loves you, is loyal to you, and tries his/her best to understand you. If you are able to answer “yes” to these questions, you will be able to see that there are many positive aspects of your relationship that you are perhaps overlooking.
- Help Each Other Out: A little help goes a long way, and as much as you think that your help may go unnoticed, chances are your partner will recognize and appreciate the assistance. Doing things like picking up after yourself, doing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, or making the bed are all examples of small ways in which you can help your partner on a daily basis. When you help each other out (without having to be prompted, that is), you are showing your partner that you two are a team, that you care, and that you are making a conscious effort to make his/her life that much easier.
- Re-live Memories Together: If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been in a relationship for several years. This means that you have likely shared many happy memories together! Pull out an old photo album from when you first met and look at pictures from your first few months (or years) together. Talk about the feelings, hopes, and dreams you had at those times. Re-live the memories of a special occasion, such as a birthday or a vacation, that you spent together.
- Play a Game Together: The daily routine of life can be unexciting and not very stimulating for the brain. Why not try making some time to play a game together that you both enjoy? Whether it’s a board game, a card game, or an interactive DVD/computer game, the key is spending quality time together and doing something that is enjoyable for both of you.
- Massages: A massage is a simple, inexpensive way of showing your partner you care about them. Pamper your partner by lighting some candles, playing some relaxing music, getting some scented massage oil, and giving him/her a deep neck and back massage. Your partner will appreciate the gesture and the ability to relax and unwind from the day’s events. If you’re no good at giving massages and are able to afford it, you could even check around the San Diego, La Jolla, and Oceanside areas for Spas that offer special “couples” massages, where you and your partner can receive a massage simultaneously in the same room
- Try Something New Together: Whether it’s a sport, an activity, or even sex-related, trying new things can make you feel better about yourself, your partner, and your relationship as a whole! If it’s a sport or an activity, do some research on what interests you both and sign up for classes or lessons together. If you want to experiment in the lovemaking department, you can try different sexual positions, different locations, or different scenarios/role-playing. Envision the passionate sex that you used to have with your partner, and realize that these feelings have not disappeared entirely. Most couples get into a “sexual routine” whereby even if the sex is regular, it becomes disinteresting or boring to one or both partners. Finding time for romance is difficult, especially when the daily burdens of work and/or family seem to consume all of your time. However, it is crucial to make time for romance when you’re in a long-term relationship or are married. Often couples find themselves only being intimate on special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, or Valentine’s Day. Make an effort to connect physically, spiritually, and emotionally with your partner as often as you are both comfortable with. Remember, couples who maintain an active and exciting sex life tend to be happier, healthier, and increase their longevity!
Copyright ©2012 Jan Rakoff. All Rights Reserved.