Anja van den Berg
“How do we reignite our relationship?” is one of the most popular questions couples therapist Dr. Terri Orbuch, author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, gets asked. And it makes sense since it actually concerns all couples.
The excitement that stems from a new relationship can make you feel on top of the world. As the novelty wears off, however, the relationship can feel like it’s growing stale. “Passionate love is the love of arousal, excitement, newness and mystery, and it happens at the beginning of a relationship,” says Orbuch. “On average, passionate love tends to decline after 18 months.”
You aren’t doomed to remain in a dull and boring relationship, though. There are some steps you can take to keep a mature relationship fresh and exciting:
One of the reasons why relationships get boring is because couples fall into routines and stop doing exciting things together, says Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, a social and personality psychologist. “Making the time for a new, novel, or exciting activity – even a brief one – can rub off on how partners feel about each other.” Both mystery and surprise mimic the emotional state of a new romance, says Margarita Tartakovsky, associative editor and writer for World of Psychology. “In other words, trying something new sparks excitement, producing passion.”
- Give the tried-and-trusted date night an overhaul
Long-married couples often schedule a weekly date night — a regular evening out with friends or at a favourite restaurant to strengthen their marital bond.
But brain and behavior researchers say many couples are going about date night all wrong. “Simply spending quality time together is probably not enough to prevent a relationship from getting stale,” says Arthur Aron, a professor of social psychology at the State University of New York. “Rather than visiting the same familiar haunts and dining with the same old friends, couples need to modify their date nights to keep injecting novelty into the relationship.”
- Fuel the passion with the key ingredient
Findings of a noteworthy study, reported in the prestigious journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, concluded that people who are happiest in their relationships both love their partners more and have sex more frequently than those who report lower levels of general marital satisfaction. Sex is something relationship experts universally agree will bolster just about every area of a marriage. A healthy increase in sexual contact is a key way to recapture the erotic force that brought you together in the first place. Become the master of seduction and get to really know your partner. Light some candles, pour a glass of wine and go on a treasure hunt for information about his/her preferences and sexuality.
- Scare yourself silly… and sexy
Medical experts liken the body’s fear response to sexual arousal, says WebMD. We get a rush from being scared in a somewhat controlled environment, and when we do it with a partner, the feeling of having conquered our fears hand in hand brings us closer together. Granted, jumping out of a plane may be more stimulation than many of us ever care to experience, but there’s always the rock-climbing wall at your gym, the scream machine of your choice at the local amusement park or simply watching a scary movie together (in the dark, of course).
- Use technology to your romantic advantage
These days it’s far too easy for a crater of cyberspace to grow between a husband and wife. He can spend hour after hour playing a computer game; she can’t seem to get enough of her social media friends. “But with a few quick clicks, you can use this very same technology to hot-wire your marriage,” says Michele Weiner-Davis, a marriage and family therapist, and author of Divorce Busting. Send your partner romantic e-mails throughout the day, declare your love on Facebook and – if you are a bit more daring – send him or her a racy, but tasteful, text message or voice clip.
If you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage, you know that it’s not always easy to keep that warm glow of freshness and excitement alive in your connection. Unless you’re making conscious efforts to keep things sizzling, soon boredom and tediousness takes the shine off one of the most special relationships of your life. Don’t let that happen!
Morin, A. 2014. “10 Ways To Keep Your Relationship Exciting And Fresh”. Lifehack.org, http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-ways-keep-your-relationship-exciting-and-fresh.html
Parker-Pope, T. 2008. “Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples”. The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/12/health/12well.html?_r=0
Nicholson, J. 2013. “How to keep a relationship or marriage Exciting”. Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-attraction-doctor/201306/how-keep-relationship-or-marriage-exciting
Tartakovsky, M. 2014. “6 Simple Ways to Reignite Your Relationship”. World of Psychology, http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/06/21/6-simple-ways-to-reignite-your-relationship/
Whitbourne, S.K. 2012. “The 12 Ties that Bind Long-Term Relationships”. Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201206/the-12-ties-bind-long-term-relationships
WebMD. 2015. “10 Ways to Make Your Relationship More Thrilling”. http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/10-ways-make-your-relationship-more-thrilling