Remember when you and your partner started dating? At one point, you may have torn your eyes away from each other and watched other couples staring silently at their plates across a candlelit restaurant table. “Look at that couple not talking,” you may have smugly said to each other. “We’ll never be like that.” As the years pass by, you start to realize that you and your partner have become that bickering couple.
Over the years, hundreds of marriages have suffered and fallen apart due to busy schedules, kids, and just plain old familiarity. However, that doesn’t mean the spark in your marriage is dead. What it means is that you’re going to have to work on relighting your fire and jumpstarting your marriage engine. It’s possible to get that spark back in your relationship and fall in love with each other again. Here are five ways to help you get started.
Be attentive to each other.
It’s easy to get into the habit of ignoring your partner and taking them for granted. Still, one of the best things you can do to help reignite the spark in a relationship is to start being attentive to each other. This doesn’t mean making a special effort to go out to dinner or even to start cooking dinner and cleaning the house every night. It simply means talking and listening to each other.
Try to avoid the apparent topics of kids and work. Instead, talk about things you each love, the kind of conversations you may have had when you first started dating. You could chat about movies you’ve seen, mutual friends, hobbies each of you enjoys, anything to reconnect with each other.
Why will this work? Because when people are married or in a long-term relationship, they tend to forget about each other’s day-to-day desires and interests, focusing on the ‘important’ stuff like money and work. This often leads to a disconnect between each other, and as you become increasingly more like strangers who live in the same home, the spark can die away.
By reconnecting with each other, you can not only remember exactly what attracted you to each other, but you will feel treasured and loved in a way you cannot help but feel when someone genuinely shows an interest in you.
Flirt with each other.
If you’re married or in a long-term relationship with someone, you don’t need to flirt with them anymore, do you? Wrong. Flirting is as much an essential part of a relationship years in as it was when you first met, maybe even more. A little mutual flirtation can go a long way toward improving your marriage, replacing grumpy resentment and the day-to-day grind of family life with playfulness and lightness.
There are many different ways to flirt with your partner, so take your pick. You can leave notes for each other to find, make an effort to look attractive, share secret in-jokes, or just plainly let your partner know how beautiful you still find them. After all, who doesn’t want to feel that they’re still desirable? It’s a pretty heady feeling and can turn around a pattern of negative communication and replace it with a much healthier style of interaction and can certainly put the spark back into your relationship in all the right places.
When you first met your partner, chances are you used to go out on dates, doing lovely things just with each other and enjoying being together. However, with all of your responsibilities as a couple, especially if you have children, it can be a little hard to get out on the town for a night of fun.
Still, as difficult as it may be to find time together, it’s essential for the health of your relationship. So if you can, try to plan a date with each other once a week or fortnight. Plan dates even if you need to be creative about what a ‘date’ means. If you can’t go out, plan a candlelit dinner. Try some wine and cheese and a good movie once the kids go to bed if you can’t manage that.
If you have children, you should also make sure you capitalize on those free days or nights you didn’t know you had. Sleepovers, surprise birthday parties and even play dates at somebody else’s house are all prime opportunities for a date with each other.
Surprise each other.
Everybody likes a pleasant surprise. However, when you’re in a long-term relationship, it can be easy to forget about doing the small surprising things you once did for each other. You could remember their favorite author and buy them a book or buy an impromptu bunch of flowers or jewelry just because.
Little, thoughtful gestures that show you care, that you pay attention to each other, and think of each other when you’re apart. You don’t even need to buy things for each other. You can cook their favorite meal, wear the outfit they love you in or record a movie you think they’ll like. Just something that tells them they’re special to you and on your mind.
Appreciating your partner for who they are and what they do creates a positive feedback loop that encourages couples to maintain relationships. When we know that others value something we’re doing, we’ll naturally tend to do more of it. Expressing gratitude and showing appreciation for your partner is also a way to encourage more of what you enjoy about who they are, how they show up, and the ways they love you.
Also, the positive effects are two-fold. Not only will your partner feel seen and appreciated, but you will become increasingly more aware of all the beautiful contributions your partner brings to your life. Where gratitude flows, energy grows.
It’s one thing to say “I love you,” and another thing entirely to express that in different ways you choose to be in your relationship every day. Love in action will look different for other people because we don’t all love in the same ways. The key to understanding how to “do” love is focusing on knowing how you love and want to be loved. It’s also about knowing this about your partner so you can take action from there.