By Melanie Davis MEd, PhD, CSE
The feelings of excitement that came with seeing one another for a date. The fun that was shared and the anticipation that existed between spending time with one another made everything feel exciting. The 'good ole' days of your relationship/marriage.
Unfortunately over time many people start focusing more on what they see as their companion’s flaws and shortcomings rather than the qualities they once found endearing. If the terms non-existent, apathetic, begrudging, hit-or-miss, or boring describe your love life, it may be time to refocus your commitment to one another and the relationship you share.
Most relationships can be greatly enhanced when partners consciously and regularly remember and re-experience the thoughts, feelings, and appreciation they once had for each other.
Try looking at your partner through new eyes. Consciously consider the things you like, love, and appreciate. Think about what you would miss about them if they were gone and ask yourself a few questions:
a.) When did my romantic interest start to wane?
b.) Am I preoccupied with work, home, or caregiving responsibilities?
c.) Did my partner give up trying to please me, if sex was ever pleasurable to begin with?
d.) Did a health crisis make romance challenging?
e.) When was the last time we went on date by ourselves?
f.) Did my interest in sex dip once the hormonal highs of a new relationship tapered off?
g.) Have I had a physical exam within the past year, to check my health status?
Once you identify what caused your romance to taper off, you can begin making small changes to turn up the heat.
Focus on Intimacy. Intimacy sets the stage for quality romance. You can build intimacy through conversations, shared jokes and experiences, physical affection, and trust. Intimacy is important for single people, too.
Take Time Off. Build in some time each week when you are off work, parent duty, caregiving duty, etc., and do something for yourself. Even it it's only 30 minutes, it still counts.
Exercise Daily. 15 minutes of stretching can get your blood flowing, keep you limber, and help you stay healthy both mentally and physically.
Date Your Partner. Build intimacy through conversation, a game, a meal, a walk/hike, cuddling, showering, and other activities that let you focus on each other.
Don’t Have Sex Begrudgingly. Fulfilling a partner’s needs is great, but if you’re left unsatisfied time and again, you’ll feel used and your partner will feel undesired. If you find yourself creating grocery lists during sex, consider what you need to get aroused. Does your partner know? If not, what's keeping you from communicating your needs?
Listen Attentively — When you went on the first few dates with your partner, you probably did not have your face buried in a tablet or a cell phone. (Perhaps they weren’t even invented yet!) It is more likely that you paid close attention to him or her and acted in a manner that showed how much you truly cared about what they had to say. You probably wanted to know everything about them and listened carefully to what they shared about themselves. That loving attentiveness you once demonstrated and received can easily lessen as the years go by. Taking the time to intently listen to your partner can have a profoundly positive impact on closeness and connection.
It's not uncommon for the romance in a relationship to wax and wane over the month and over the years. If you want to rekindle the spark, try these tips and explore whether they help you turn up the heat.