Do you ever get scared that a committed relationship or long term marriage will bore you? Do you ever fear the mystery and magic of courtship might be replaced by the wholly mundane of everyday life?
One of the most common myths about long-term relationships is that passion is only for the beginning of a relationship and that it’s nearly impossible to keep the spark alive as you get comfortable. What’s “the spark”? It’s that feeling of butterflies in your stomach, the electricity that passes through you when you touch the one you love, that deep down excitement. Some believe it’s inevitable that this feeling will dim and eventually disappear when you’re in a long-term relationship. But that certainly doesn’t have to be the case.
Trust me, I used to be just like you! Thinking of all the amazing fish in the sea, and of all of the different sides of my personality, and wondering if any one person could fulfill all of these different energies, mood, and changes of seasons.
Virtually every relationship starts out the same way – you can’t keep your hands off each other, you can’t stop thinking of that person and you get excited at the mere thought of them, and you put so much work into impressing them on each date.
Now that Jay and I have been together for five years, so many of my friends ask me how we keep that lust and passion alive. First of all I want to assure you that it is totally possible to fall madly, deeply in love with your partner everyday, as long as you follow these practices. Secondly, I want you to know that there is so much excitement in getting to know the depth of your partner and growing/building a life together rather than constantly serial dating because of a fear of this deep intimacy.
Here are my best practices for keeping the butterflies and sparks alive! I think its so healthy to always keep dating your husband and…
1. Plan Surprise dates or adventures! Put some spontaneity back into the relationship! I love planning fun little rendezvous with Jay when he has meetings in San Francisco. I’ll play hooky from my UX Design class and meet up with him at one of our favorite hotel lobbies for a quick 20 minute coffee. There is something slightly naughty about leaving your work in the middle of the weekday to see your husband or partner. The experience makes you both feel young, alive, and appreciating each other in a new context. If you have children, get a sitter and go enjoy a wild night out! Every once in a while all couples need to allow themselves to experience the open-endedness that reconnects them to a sense of possibility and freedom.
2. Be Generous! Generously serving your partner not only helps them thrive but watch how it will be returned back to you with tenfold times of affection and love! A couple times a week I will cook Jay some really delicious spicy butter chicken and some yummy sweet potatoes and really try my best to appreciate him and make him feel amazing. I’ll take the time to listen to his work stories, share in his worries, and sometimes even give him a nice 5 minute shoulder massage. This step in giving shows that you’re making your partner a priority and is a vital key to keep the spark alive. Remember, if you contribute nothing, you get nothing. If you get nothing, it’s likely that you feel insignificant and unloved. Instead, take the initiative with your partner. Put aside your pride and be the one to step up to the plate and offer freely with your love, your talents and generosity. Trust me – I get way more love and affection when I step up to give love than when I am grumpy and start complaining or whining!
3. Let’s Talk About (Married) Sex! Seriously – sex is so important to a healthy marriage or long term partnership. I know it’s really hard when you are both working or have kids, but if you can make the effort sex really can diffuse tension and strengthen your bond. Sex was created and designed for reproduction, pleasure, and bonding. This year I got rid of all my frumpy sweatpants and now only wear silky satin negligees or nightgowns around the house. This may seem silly or dramatic, but I feel super comfortable in negligees while also feeling sexy. I’ll be makeup free cooking, do the laundry and working on UX projects in my negligees, and when Jay comes by he can’t help but shower some affection on me which often leads to sex.
These small little efforts of seduction keep the intimacy and pair bonding alive! I know it can be extremely challenging with familiarity and stress of work to keep up an active sex life. But it is scientifically proven that sex triggers romance, and attachment — along with their beneficial hormones like testosterone, dopamine, and oxytocin.
AND REMEMBER – Monogamous sex doesn’t have to be boring. If fact, it should make you feel good about yourself. It should make you feel special and validated!
Nowadays, especially in the Bay Area, there is a lot of emphasis on new flavors, variety, and polyamory as a utopian vision. I still believe that pair bonding has so much depth and stability to offer us, and can have much more sexual excitement than most of think! Try role playing, dressing up in new ways, meeting each other at secret locations for a rendezvous, or just some new positions!
4. Stop Nagging and Criticizing! Step back and look at your behavior. Are you undermining your partner in anyway by nagging, teasing, or making fun of them in front of others or behind closed doors? I’m not talking about flirtatious teasing, but the mean passive aggressive teasing that is just plain ole disrespectful.
We all hate to be nagged or talked down to, and most of us also get stressed out nagging others – especially our partners.
“Did you take the trash out?”
“You do know that bill is due tomorrow, right?”
Nag Nag Nag!
The underlying issue of nagging is often control. Surrender control. Let it go. Ask yourself what is most important for you right now? The relationship or having your way? A happy partner or the results?
Complaints and nagging turn people off and build resistance. Trust me, when I am in a bad mood and start nagging Jay about all the home improvements we need to do before his parents arrive next month, he immediately gets defensive, stressed out, and starts playing online poker games. Although you may feel convinced that you’ve asked for what you want without good results, you may have inadvertently been doing what I had been doing – complaining. I was certain that I was being clear and concrete about my wishes for making our new house presentable, when in fact, the only thing I was being clear and concrete about was how Jay was disappointing me.
Whenever I want Jay to do something, I get much better results by asking him very positively and giving him an action oriented solution. I also always positively re-enforce my requests with lots of appreciation, thank yous, and demonstrating gratefulness. This consistent appreciation of your partner goes a long way toward intimacy and attraction!
If you are still reading, head to be Instagram and comment on the latest photo with your favorite way you keep the passion alive in your marriage! And if you are single, tell me what is your biggest romance struggle and how I can help!
If you want more Love Bombs, head to this post on Creating Lasting Connection!