Anyone who has been in a relationship long enough for those initial butterflies to fade into something more mundane has asked the question: how do you make that “in love” feeling last? While every person, and therefore every relationship, is different, there are some things you and your partner can do to keep the flames of love roaring for many years to come.
It’s true that there are no guaranteed, tried-and-true, silver bullet methods that work for every single couple ever. Love is more complicated than fixing a carburetor, after all! That said, there are some things you can try with your partner to rekindle some of the romance that tends to fall to the wayside in long-term relationships. Here, we’ll talk about three simple-but-effective tips you and your partner can use to add some spark to your relationship.
Be Adventurous Together!
Getting stuck in a rut is easy when you’ve been with the same person for a long time. Chances are, your long-term relationship involves sharing the mundane tasks that are a natural part of sharing a life with someone, from laundry to dishes to making sure the bills are paid on time. While that’s all wonderful and important, it’s just as important to keep trying new things together and push your boundaries, both as individuals and as a couple.
Being adventurous with your partner can mean many different things — you don’t have to go skydiving to push your limits! Perhaps you could try a new type of cuisine together, visit a new place neither of you has been to, or take a class in something that’s new to both of you (dancing lessons or a pottery class are fun, but so is getting your scuba certification together — choose what fits you!).
Trying something new can be intimidating, but you’ll have the support of your partner to fall back on and help propel you forward together. If you get scared (new things can be scary!), try to remember why you’re pursuing this new activity with your partner and keep your goals in the front of your mind. Trying new things not only gives you plenty to talk about, it also helps build trust and strengthen your bond.
Share Your Feelings, and Don’t Stop At, “I Love You.”
Yes, telling your partner in words that you love them is very important to strengthen and maintain the bond you share, but it doesn’t stop there. Loving each other is beautiful and incredible, but that bond alone cannot sustain a relationship forever. Words of affirmation (a term you may be familiar with if you’ve read The 5 Love Languages) are crucial to keeping your relationship strong and staving off complacency.
“I love you” feels good to hear, but so do phrases like, “I’m so proud of you” or “I really appreciate you doing X today” also induce that happy, bubbly feeling in your partner. These specific affirmations also serve another purpose: by verbalizing the details of your partner and the relationship you share that mean the most to you, you can make your partner feel valued and encourage them to keep up the good work (positive reinforcement, anyone?). If you aren’t sure where to start, it’s okay to try more general phrases like, “You mean a lot to me” or “I’m so happy you’re in my life” and go from there.
It can be difficult for some people to express positive emotion, especially some men who weren’t necessarily taught to verbalize their feelings. If your partner isn’t the best communicator, don’t despair: communication is a skill, not an innate ability, and it can therefore be learned and improved upon. Work together with your partner to build their communication skills, being kind and patient as they learn to put words to what they’re feeling and trust you enough to tell you.
Make Date Night a Priority
You likely went on tons of dates with your partner early in your relationship, but the act of dating each other can fall by the wayside as the newness of the relationship wears off and you start to fall into more of a routine. To keep from falling into a romantic slump, it can be helpful to set aside time, perhaps once a week, devoted to going on a date with your partner — especially if you have children.
The importance of date night is also backed by science: a study by the Marriage Foundation found that couples who have a dedicated date night just once a month were 14% less likely to break up. If a single date night per month can strengthen your relationship, imagine what making time for each other weekly could do!
While part of the benefits of a regular date night come from carving out time to spend together, some of that benefit is lost when you go to the same restaurant every Thursday night. When you set your date night, try not to fall back on the same old plans every time. To avoid placing the burden of planning on one person alone, try taking turns choosing activities, whether it be trying a new restaurant, going to see a show, or visiting a new location. Try to keep things interesting for both of you!
Getting into a groove is easy when you’ve been together for many years, and it’s not all bad — that routine helps establish and maintain the life you share. However, it’s important to step outside that routine every so often in order to keep things interesting and remind you why you fell in love in the first place. Breathe new life into your relationship by shaking things up!