How to put the honeymoon-level excitement back in your marriage
Here's how to put the excitement back into a relationship that is decades long.
1. Encourage your partner to pursue a passion
Research suggests we're most attracted to our partner when they are in their own element—in other words, when they're feeling confident and in the flow. That may be when he's playing his trumpet or coding a new program, or when she's dancing to flamenco music or painting pictures of historical landscapes.
Whatever your individual passions may be, focus on supporting each other to pursue them. "Find where your partner excels and start looking at them fresh through that lens, as if you were strangers, meeting for the first time," suggests sexual health consultant Celeste Holbrook, PhD.
2. Show appreciation for your partner at least once a day
When you first started dating, remember how much you appreciated the little things your partner did for you and you did for him? Continue to do this in your relationship as it grows over the years. "At the beginning you're giddy with love and gratitude, and you're grateful for your lover and all the little things you do together, the things they say and the places you go together," says Claudia Six, PhD, sexologist, relationship coach, and author of Erotic Integrity: How to Be True to Yourself Sexually.
"Reconnect with that gratitude instead of taking your relationship for granted." Start the day by telling each other what you're grateful for, complimenting one another regularly, saying "I love you," and comment on a new dress or a new haircut. If you want to take the romance up a few notches, start leaving love notes in unexpected places—by the coffee machine, in his underwear drawer, by the door so he sees it as he's leaving, or on the garbage can for whoever takes out the trash.
3. Plan fun, spontaneous date nights
When love is new, date nights are special. But with limited time, kids, the stress of running a household and doing your job, date nights can represent a huge logistical 'should.' "But it really is important to remember how dates used to be, when you'd dress up for them, look your beloved in the eye, be interested in what they say, and allow them to put a twinkle back in your eye," says Dr. Six.
"Remember what made you fall in love with him and treat the date as a special time." Go to a concert in the park and bring a picnic basket with wine if that's allowed. Outdoor concerts are often free and can be a great way to have a nice evening together and just enjoy each other's company. Or go out to a nice place for dinner and split an appetiser—order a bottle of wine and make the meal last. "Do this as often as your budget allows, but at least once a month if you can save up for it," recommends Dr. Michael.
4. Use the power of touch to your advantage
Touching is small way to reconnect and make contact every day. Even just holding hands releases the love hormone oxytocin, which can strengthen empathy and communication between a couple.
"Make sure to hold hands, not only when walking down the street, but at home, in the morning when you first wake up, and at the end of the day before going to sleep," says Dr. Six. "You don't have to talk. You can just feel the warmth of your lover's hand in yours and rest in the comfort of it, enjoying the familiarity of your beloved's skin and energy."
5. Check in on a regular basis
Think of it as a state-of-the-union conversation between the two of you about your relationship. It can be as simple as 15 minutes on the couch where you talk about what made you happy, what moved you. "The mundane tasks of daily living can dull the sparkle in a relationship, but if you make an effort to be genuinely interested in your spouse's state of mind and how they're feeling about things in their life and in the relationship, it'll have you both feeling closer to each other," says Dr. Six.
In bed at night or over dinner, ask each other what your favourite part of the day was and why. You might be surprised to learn what is most meaningful to your mate and you may even chuckle at each other's answers as you reminisce about the day's events. This way you're constantly discovering something new about your partner and sharing in their joy, the way you did in the beginning of your relationship.
Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments.