By Holly Chavez:
Have you been having a difficult time connecting with your partner? Whether you’ve been together for decades or just a few months, it’s important to always take steps to keep the spark alive.
We’ve all heard of the seven-year itch, but getting past this point doesn’t make a long-term relationship any easier. The truth is that marriage is something you have to work on daily. Without a conscious effort on your part, it will be much easier than you might expect for your relationship to go from hot and heavy to complacent and even resentful.
In more than 10 years of marriage, I’ve discovered that nothing kills the romance faster than falling into a boring routine, especially if this doesn’t include prioritizing each other. If you take only one thing out of this article, let it be this:
This is the secret to my marriage’s longevity, and it’s something that everyone can do. In fact, placing a greater emphasis on making my husband a priority by giving him my undivided attention is one of the quickest ways to stop us from bickering or beginning to drift apart. The best part is that when I prioritize him, he prioritizes me in return.
Of course, there’s a lot more that I do to help keep the spark alive. Prioritizing my spouse also means looking for opportunities to connect with each other mentally, emotionally and physically.
Fortunately, there are many easy ways to turn a boring day into an exciting evening. If you and your partner haven’t been connecting properly and have started talking about going to couples counseling, consider trying the following tips first.
Whether you head off on a long vacation or simply take a day to explore a new park together, there is extensive evidence that visiting new places will be good for your relationship. In fact, studies have found that couples that make an effort to go somewhere new experience many positive benefits, 1 including:
Couples tend to romanticize going out to eat together, but this can be noisy and expensive. Instead, start the spark in your own kitchen by cooking a romantic meal. It’s nice if one of you cooks for the other, but in my experience, it’s even better if you share the cooking duties. This puts the two of you together in a creative space, which can easily lead to touching and kissing.
If you’re concerned that cooking takes too much time, don’t worry: most people spend 34 minutes or less per day on food prep. 2 Consider this time to be like the foreplay of your mealtime, and the evening is virtually certain to go in a fun direction.
If you’re anything like me, you dated quite a few frogs before you found your Prince (or Princess) Charming. One of the biggest issues that leads to couples counseling and ultimately tears relationships apart is being negative with each other instead of focusing on the positive.
Take time at least once a day to tell your spouse something you’re grateful for about them. It doesn’t have to be something huge; it can be as simple as saying, “I’m grateful that you are kind to strangers.” This will have big mental health benefits for both of you:
In turn, this will make your relationship happier, less stressed and more conducive to romance.
Do you still tell your spouse that you find them to be attractive? This is something that many couples stop doing over time, even if they still feel the same level of attraction.
The problem is that people need to hear positive feedback on a regular basis. Therefore, if my husband were to go an extended period of time without indicating that he’s attracted to me, I could naturally start to feel unattractive.
Help your spouse’s self-esteem and rekindle the romance by doing things such as giving them a genuine compliment daily and letting them know when they look nice in a new outfit. Another great spark starter is hitting on them with the looks and words you used to express interest when the relationship was new.
Do you carve out at least a few hours weekly to be alone together? Kids, work and other obligations may seem more important at times, but they’re not. This is because numerous studies have found that couples that don’t make alone time a priority are much more likely to end in divorce. 3
A date doesn’t have to be a big, expensive night out. What it should do is get the two of you outside of your home and away from kids, jobs and any other responsibilities. You could go for a walk in the woods, dine at your favorite restaurant or attend a concert together. Just be sure to make some time to talk during the date. Making this a priority will help the two of you in several ways:
I’m not a big fan of public displays of affection, so I can understand if you don’t spend your date night constantly touching each other and making out. However, it’s very important for casual physical affection to be one of the cornerstones of your daily life. This helps keep intimacy alive, and allows the two of you to check in on each other non-verbally.
Hugs are especially powerful, and researchers say sharing a 20-second hug at least once a day will greatly help both of you. In fact, hugs may even be the key to improving cardiovascular health! 4 Aside from reducing your blood pressure, a 20-second hug will help the two of you bond and strengthen your relationship: 5
It’s definitely easier to be romantic when you’re not stressed out and are with a partner you trust. Try giving your spouse a 20-second hug before and after work each day to see how it keeps the spark alive!
It may feel odd at first to consider scheduling time to be intimate. Many experts have indicated, though, that it can actually not only spice things up but also save your marriage. 6 After all, most of us live hectic lives. I certainly do, and it’s common for me to work seven days in a row. This makes it hard to wait for sex to just spontaneously happen.
Scheduling intimate time instead allows you to prioritize being together physically. This is just as important as going on a weekly date. As an added bonus, the two of you will have something to look forward to. This anticipation can make everything much better, and it will encourage flirtatious behavior between encounters.
As you can see, all of the things on this list require you to prioritize each other. Without developing this one simple habit, it will be very difficult for any relationship to thrive and couples counseling may quickly become a necessity.
Fortunately, I’m living proof that making my spouse a priority by doing things such as having a weekly date night and expressing gratitude can keep the spark alive for more than 10 years. It’s never too late to make a change; spice up your relationship today!