Marriage can take a toll in the lives of individuals but it is a great institution founded by God. The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22, NLT).
The groom and his bride beamed as they faced each other to exchange vows. The glimmer of new rings couldn’t compete with the glow of their love. Friends and family smiled too.
But we all knew that after the honeymoon, life’s pressures would pile on. And the meshing of two wills is neither easy nor romantic. When sparkle gives way to sparks, how do couples keep love’s flame burning?
We believe that it is possible to get that spark back in your relationship and fall in love with each other all over again. And here are five ideas to help you do it.
1) Be attentive to each other
It’s easy to get into the habit of ignoring your partner and taking them for granted. But 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 really listening) to each other.
Try to avoid the obvious 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 it was that attracted you to each other – your zest for life, way of looking at the world, sharp humour, shared love of silly movies – but you will feel treasured and loved in the way you cannot help but feel when someone genuinely shows an interest in you.
2) 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 important 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 a lot of 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 for each other, share secret in-jokes, buy the best body paint online and have fun together, or just plainly let your partner know how attractive 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!
3) Have more sex
Often, as the spark dies in a relationship, so does your sex life. After all, you need to at least like someone to want to have sex with them, and if you spend most of your day resenting your partner, you’re not going to be itching to jump into bed with them!
But sex is a vital means of connection between couples. In fact, especially if you have children, it’s one of the few things that’s just ‘yours’. And when the sex dies away, so can much of the intimacy in your relationship.
So it’s important that you have more sex, not less, if your relationship is struggling. And don’t just wait until you’re in the mood for it (you may have to wait a while!). Even if you have to plan it around picking up the kids from football practice and early morning meetings, make an effort to start making that time for each other.
It may feel stilted and lack a certain amount of passion in the beginning, but as this couple (who committed to having sex EVERY DAY for a year) found out, once you start doing it more, you start seeing a wealth of benefits, and you naturally start to want it more.
And if all that hasn’t convinced you, this is what Dr Geoff Hackett, a leading expert in sexual medicine and former chairman of the British Society for Sexual Medicine says about sex in relationships:
“All the evidence points to the fact that an active sex life keeps couples together. It promotes intimacy, reassurance, the realisation that both parties are wanted and needed. It is hard to find researched evidence, but most surveys point to the fact that a lack of sex in a relationship is a leading factor in break-ups.”
The good news is that you don’t need to jump into bed every day to reap the relationship rewards of a reignited sex life. As Dr Geoff Hackett goes on to say:
“Once [couples] rediscover their sex life it is extraordinary how quickly many other issues are resolved. Sex is the vital component in a functioning relationship, but it doesn’t have to be incredibly frequent. A couple just need to know they have those moments of intimacy which only they share, and which bond them together.”
4) Plan dates
When you first met your partner, the chances are you used to go out on dates – doing lovely things just with each other and enjoying being together. But 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.
But as difficult as it may be to find time together, it’s important for the health of your relationship. So if you can, try to plan a date with each other once a week or fortnight, even if you need to be creative about what a ‘date’ means!
If you can’t go out, plan a candlelit dinner. Can’t manage even that? Try some wine and cheese and a good movie once the kids are asleep.
If you have children you should also make sure you capitalise 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.
5) Surprise each other
Everybody likes a nice surprise. But 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 know, like remembering their favourite author and buying them a book. Or buying an impromptu bunch of flowers or piece of jewellery, just because. Little, thoughtful gestures show you care, 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 favourite 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.
Don’t wait for your partner to go first
Of course, if your relationship isn’t in a great place, you may not feel like doing nice things for your partner. Especially if you have got into a pattern of resentment and point scoring.