Most of us have experienced the excitement of falling in love. While most of us know that as the relationship or marriage evolves, the excitement has to evolve too, but too often it becomes extinct. The honeymoon may be over, but that does not have to mean the end of romance. Here are some ideas on how romance can evolve with the relationship:
- Express your desire for more romance, and invite your partner into the process. Many people feel frustrated when they work hard at changing a relationship for the better, only to have their partners not notice or reciprocate. Avoid this frustration by telling your partner you are ready to reboot the romance, and make a plan together.
- Get to know each other. It can be hard to feel romantic when you act like roommates. Do you really share about yourselves? Listen attentively? Are you able to talk openly about your emotions, fears and hopes? Or has the conversation been limited to what’s for supper and when to pick up the kids? Devote at least 10 minutes every day talking to your partner about anything except those topics. Every discussion doesn’t have to be serious (lighthearted laughter goes a long way in lifting your spirits and reconnecting), just sincere.
- Use your history. Remember the efforts you made when the relationship was new? Maybe you dressed up, flirted, paid compliments, or opened doors. Make a list and do them again now. Think back to the beginning of your relationship, and all the ways that you and your partner made each other feel special. It is often the little things that mean the most and are missed the most.
- Try a new activity. Couples that try new things together revive what they felt when they were dating and everything was a new, shared experience.
- Touch. Affectionate touch boosts the body’s feel-good hormones, so hug your partner, hold hands, lean your head on your partner’s shoulder.
- Stay independent. Expecting your partner to fill in for all your favourite activities and old friends is unrealistic, and triggers feelings of resentment for both partners because these unrealistic expectations cannot be met. Both partners should spend time with creative or social activities they enjoy in a way that is respectful to the relationship.
- Skills. Many people complain that couples counselling didn’t work because the relationship ended anyway, but most couples wait for issues to become hurtful crises. In addition, there is often a faulty assumption relationship skills are innate instead of learned.
If you have concerns that you are unable to resolve on your own, ask for help earlier rather than later. There are many trained professionals and workshops available. For example, The Gottman Institute runs workshops all over the world for couples. Go to http://www.gottman.com/events/categories/couples-workshops/ for more information.
Jennifer Laycock B.S.c, MC, Registered Psychologist