Keep the spark alive
Plan a midnight feast. There’s nothing quite as invigorating
as doing something a little naughty or silly.
Understanding what it takes to keep romance alive
long after the first flush of rose-coloured falling in love is over,
isn’t difficult, but it does take some effort.
The first step in re-igniting the fire begins in your head. Think back to all the little things your partner did, said or dreamed about that attracted you in the first place. Concentrating on the positive aspects of your partner will keep you from focusing on their foibles or things that have become irritating to you.
According to Dr Susan Whitbourne, people in good relationships engage in what’s known as ‘sentiment override’ where they remember more of the favourable experiences than unfavourable ones. This isn’t quite the same as ignoring your partner’s shortcomings, but rather choosing to focus on the positives.
Remain mindful of your partner when you’re not together. If it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind, you may need to do some deep thinking about the veracity of your love. Practise thinking about your partner throughout the day (this doesn’t mean you have to moon about daydreaming all day).
Cognitively make a decision to think about, care about and ever so slightly obsess about your partner in a positive and caring way.
• Write down a list of positive attributes about your partner and why you fell in love with them. Get them to do the same and take some time out to share those thoughts.
• If you find yourself thinking negatively about your partner, switch your thoughts to a positive attribute and at the same time, recognise you also have irritating habits.
DIFFERENT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
Engaging in a challenging or different experience together is a sure-fire way to bring you closer. That’s not to say you need to head off for a first-time bungee jump together, especially if the very thought scares you witless. But, instead, find activities you can both enjoy and that challenge you mentally or physically.
This encourages time spent together as well. After the first flush of falling in love, many couples go their separate ways in terms of hobbies or areas of interest. If one of you spends all their time watching sport on TV while the other potters around in the garden, something’s not right.
Make an effort to spend time together and show interest in each other’s passions.
Generally, people who really engage in life are the happiest and have stronger relationships. Get your lust for life into full gear by exploring the world around you and acting on things that pique your interest.
• Find a common interest you both have. For example, if music is a passion, spend the day together in a music store listening to different versions of a favourite song.
• Learn together. Exploring something new to both of you will bring you closer. Pick up a recipe book on a style of food you both like and learn to master your favourite dishes. You can celebrate by hosting a dinner party to show off your now-found culinary skills.
• Play together. There’s nothing like a bit of competition and exercise to heat up your senses, so engage in a game of tennis, miniature golf, or even a video game that gets you going.
• Give back – find a charity that resonates with you and volunteer to help out together.
• Spend time in nature - pack a picnic, look for edible mushrooms, go camping, snuggle up and sleep under the stars.
SAY IT, DO IT
You may feel warm and fuzzy towards your partner, but a surprising number of people don’t actually express how they feel. Saying I love you everyday may become a bit tired – rather insert loving dialogue into your daily communication. For example, tell your partner they’re looking particularly good today, or that you love it when they do this or that.
Also, a little touch every so often won’t ever go awry – this isn’t about sex, but just about warm affection. A touch on the arm, a quick hug or a soft kiss on the cheek will help you to focus on each other and build your trust. Touch is extraordinarily important and encourages the production of oxytocin, the love and trust hormone.
Communication is vital to any good relationship, so make time each day to talk about any small issues that may arise. Concentrate on being honest and ensure you listen carefully and give each other a chance to speak. This will also cut off any resentments before they have a chance to build, making you feel lighter and happier in general.
• Write a love letter and stash it in a place your partner is sure to find it (like their underwear drawer)
• Practise never leaving a room without first touching or kissing your partner. Be mindful of their body in your space and see how often you can brush up against them ‘by mistake’ – this will make both of you more aware of each other and may just spark a serendipitous romp
• Set up a weekly time slot without any distractions from phones, TV, other people or children. Even if its half an hour a week, make this time your date for communicating.
Nondescript, gentle touches are bound to spark the desire for more. Sex is vital to healthy relationships – it’s about sharing a close intimacy together and maintaining or building trust. In today’s world, busyness and fatigue contribute greatly to diminishing sexual activity. It’s difficult to get back to intimacy if too much time lapses, so good communication is important.
• Take a bath or shower together, get to know each other’s bodies in a new way. Wash each other’s hair or feet. This doesn’t have to lead to sex, but will help you get in touch with each other intimately
• Set up a date night for once a month (it’s more interesting to choose a date, such as the first of every month, rather than a day – this will give you a wider range of opportunities). Take turns to choose what you’ll do on that day (from having a picnic in your own garden to a night on the town dressed to the nines)
• Plan a midnight feast. There’s nothing quite as invigorating as doing something a little naughty or silly. Create a veritable feast and sneak into the kitchen at midnight. The quietness of the night and sense of childish delight may just spark a little romance
• Speak up. Again, there’s nothing like a good dose of communication – if you’re too bashful to say it out loud, write a sexy note or sms to your partner, inviting them to a night of passion.