Linda: There is an idea going around that you may have heard, that-long term relationships eventually and inevitably become flat and boring. Unfortunately, all too many people believe this myth and act accordingly. That is, they expect this to happen and when they experience moments in which feelings of attraction, desire, or sexual excitement are not powerfully stimulating, they assume that the flame has gone out and the future is bleak and uninspiring. Possessed by this expectation, it’s not surprising that many relationships can begin an inexorable downward trajectory that all too often may end in separation or worse.
While it is not possible to prevent those moments from ever occurring, it is possible to strengthen the substance of a relationship in a way that minimizes their impact and diminishes the frequency of those occurrences. Not just a little bit, but to a very significant degree.
“What’s the catch?” you might ask. There is none, that is, unless you call infusing your life with more fun and pleasure a catch. And yes, that is what it takes to make sure that you keep your relationship fresh, passionate, and exciting, whether you’re 20 or 90 years old.
Lest you get into the “I’d-love-to-but-there’s not-enough-time” syndrome, let me remind you that it’s never a matter of having enough time; it’s always a matter of how you choose to prioritize your time. Many of us assign a higher priority to activities and commitments other than our relationships, not necessarily because we don’t value our relationships, but often because we take them for granted and create the false belief that we can afford to neglect our connection or put it on cruise control. After all, we think, since we’re committed, we’re solid and we don’t need to continue to put the time, attention, and energy into things that we did in the early days when our relationship wasn’t so secure.
It’s a big mistake to take your partnership for granted and assume that it doesn’t require the same level of care and attention that it did way back when. Worse, it can be a set up for disaster if this neglect continues for too long.
After a few years of married life, the inclination to take for granted what we used to appreciate can become strong, making it easy for a couple to slip into being roommates, business partners, and if they are raising children, co-parents. These are all important roles we find ourselves in each day, but if the relationship becomes defined by these roles, the important component of being lovers can be squeezed out.
In most relationships there is one partner who places a higher value than the other on romance. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not always the woman. But the person who is the stand for keeping romance alive will be more likely to notice when it is fading. Consequently, this person has more power to introduce corrections to bring more closeness and playfulness into the relationship. This is not to imply that he or she has the sole responsibility for keeping an eye on things, but rather because of this awareness, they are more capable of influencing the depth of connection in the relationship.
There are myriad ways to bring more of this spirit into a relationship. One way is to go out on a date. Dates aren’t just for young lovers; they work magic for those of us who have been together for a while because going away from home provides a change of scenery, and enlivens things for both partners.
Staying home for a date can be fun, too. You can have a romantic dinner by candlelight. Consider making “date night” a regular feature of your relationship. Dates don’t have to be limited to a few hours together on an occasional evening; they can be an entire day, a weekend, or even longer, depending on the agreement you and your partner make with each other. And honeymoons (without the kids of course) aren’t just for the newly married. Taking one every year is not too much. We know lots of people (including ourselves) who have made a tradition of this practice.
Here are a few more ideas you might want to consider. Taking time to honor the intimacy component of your partnership can become habit-forming. Try some of these and add your own creative touches to the process of keeping romance alive.
- Designate what we refer to as “Sacred Time” and create a tech-free zone that will assure that there will be NO interruptions. Then, enjoy.
- Some delightful ways of spending an evening together don’t cost anything. Going into the tub with each other, with candlelight of course, followed by more candlelight in the bedroom, is always a sure way to enhance the spirit of romance.
- Take turns being of service to each other. You can bathe each other and wash each other’s hair. You could shave his face and he could shave your legs (or vice versa—just kidding!).
- Agree beforehand to feed each other every forkful of an entire meal. We know of a number of couples that have done this in restaurants, often to the surprise of other diners. Sit across the corner of the table so you can be close to each other. Feeding each other slows down the rate at which you eat. This is also a good way to lose weight, since generally, the slower we eat, the less we consume.
- Spend time being connected through your eyes only, without the need to exchange words. While this may seem a bit awkward at first after a few minutes you’ll begin to settle in to the experience and you may begin to experience some surprisingly delightful feelings.
- After dinner you can listen to music together, and might even want to dance. If you’d prefer privacy, try dancing with your partner in your own living room or bedroom. Another big advantage of dancing in your own home is that you can take your clothes off. You’ll know for sure that you are not roommates or business partners when you’re dancing nude!
- Massage is another great way to keep romance alive. You don’t need a massage table or fancy scented massage oils. Just take the cooking oil down from the kitchen shelf and lay down a towel on the bed or floor. And you don’t have to be a professionally trained masseuse or masseur to bring a loving touch.
- Reading love poems to each other brings sweetness. If you enjoy the exotic, consider poetry from Rumi, Hafiz, or Kabir.
- Love notes stuck in books, under plates and pillows, and in the underwear drawer are sure to draw smiles of appreciation.
- Last, but not least, is the way lovers exchange romantic talk. It needs to be sincere, intimate, and full of feeling from the heart. These emotional interchanges are the main meal. Sex is the desert, and it’s non-fattening.
Taking time out of our busy lives to make sure that the intimate aspects of our relationship is thriving works wonders for the partnership and our lives as a whole. Trying something new can promote more thrills and excitement than anxiety if we are mindful about the ways in which we approach change.
We can rest assured that the lovers’ aspect of our relationship is thriving when we’re enjoying the art of bringing pleasure to each other. And we receive the added benefit of all those health-enhancing hormones running through our body that promote happiness and well-being.