A long-term relationship or marriage is a blessing—but what do you do when the doldrums set in? How can you see your spouse with fresh eyes? Appreciating everything you have together and awakening what may have gone dormant?
- Celebrate What's Working: Research has shown that couples who focus on the negatives in their relationship—feel more negative! What a surprise. A study by Robinson and Price (1980) concluded that unhappy couples notice the occurrence of pleasurable events in their relationships 50% less than happy couples. Reminisce about the good times you’ve spent together recently and what you appreciate about your marriage.
- Reattach as Friends: Spend quality time together—getting current on the emotional level even if it’s nothing earth shattering. Revealing your inner most thoughts and being listened to—inevitably re-engages two people. Noticing the ordinary moments in your relationship. Share something you’re reading, listen attentively, be mutually available to each in the here and now. They don’t call it “The Present” for nothing.
- Speak Your Truth: If you don’t tell the truth, the other person has no way of knowing who you are, what you are thinking or feeling and how their actions impact you. Although it can be scary to “tell it like it is,” honesty can bring vitality to your relationship. Unexpressed anger numbs passion. If the truth is difficult--start speaking about why you’ve shut down. Brush up on good communication skills, express yourself with kindness, using “I” statements and words that take ownership for your part in co-creating any dynamic that isn’t working. Hiding yourself and avoiding conflict sucks energy out of your connection. It may be painful to speak some hard truths but living a lie causes more debilitating long-term pain.
- Don’t Wait To Feel “Turned On” To Make Love: Having sex increases the hormone Oxytocin—which makes us feel closer, more bonded and empathetic to our partners. So don’t wait to feel erotic--make love now to create the attraction. Sometimes sex in long term marriages gets fraught with power struggles and expectations. Make an agreement to set aside some time to be sensual. Lock the door, turn off the cell phones and have fun together. Lower your expectations for each sexual experience. Let go of orgasm or penetration-- anything that is “goal” oriented. Being in bed for a few hours making out, touching and talking ---can be thrilling. Remember when you were dating or courting each other and you practically peeled a layer of your own skin in preparation for that special date? Pretend you’re dating again. Adorn yourself, wear clothes that show off your assets, buy perfumes or colognes that make you smell and feel attractive. Be the source of what you are seeking from your partner.
- Have an Adventure Together: Get out of your mundane world. Do or learn something new together that will captivate and challenge you. Skydiving is an understandable cliché—but what about a cooking class? Or Paddle boarding? Being bonded as two beginners, depending on each to make it through your adventure, will bring freshness into your connection.
- Take Some Time Apart: How can I miss you if you never go away? This can be hard to make happen if you have busy lives together—but missing each other is a strong aphrodisiac. It’s important to not only have some space, but possibly to spend a night apart every once in a while. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s like hitting a refresh button.
- Have Mutual Goals: Re-ignite your vision for your relationship. Research shows that couples who share dreams and goals have longer-lasting, more satisfying relationships. Have a heart to heart talk about what’s most important for both of you. Discuss where you want to be in the upcoming years. Then take steps to carry out your plans together.