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Keeping the spark alive
6 ways to cultivate and maintain the passion in your relationship
“Long distance never works.”
“The seven year itch is real.”
“Children always kill romance.”
“You can’t have love and a successful career. You have to choose.”
Chances are you’ve heard at least one of these statements, or a variation on the theme. One of the most common myths about long-term relationships is that passion is only for the beginning of a relationship. It’s the “zsa zsa zsu” that we talk about, the butterflies, the excitement, the spark. But that spark will inevitably dim down and simmer, and perhaps even sizzle out altogether and disappear.
Why sparks stop flying
Couples will cite countless reasons for their fire dying. Usually these reasons cluster around not having enough time to spend together. That might be because of long distance, seemingly incompatible work schedules or simply children and their needs. What might have been a temporary state unconsciously becomes habit. The excuse becomes “tomorrow,” or “next week,” or “when things are settled.”
Less time together leads to a loss of intimacy, which manifests as a loss of attraction. The loss of attraction leads to decreased communication between partners, starting off a cycle of negativity that becomes one of frustration and further distance.
Yet keeping the spark alive is possible. But it takes more than just scheduling a date or two to make real, lasting change in a relationship.
6 ways to keep the fire alive
You have to create what you want, not just go hunting for it. To be a good partner you need to be emotionally fit and shift from wanting something to doing something. Think back to the start of your relationship: you were willing to do whatever it takes to make that person happy. What are you willing to do now?
2. Talk with your partner
You need to have five times as many positive communications as negative ones to have a good relationship, particularly if you want an intimate one. It’s easy to see the negative impact of people feeling shut down and shut out of their intimate partner’s sphere. Talking doesn’t just mean chatting for a few minutes before falling asleep. It means making plans about your future, understanding your partner’s love language and finding out what’s on the other’s mind.
What we’re attracted to in others is another part of ourselves that we’re not activating. Then we get resentful because those qualities are being shut down and stifled in the other person, which comes through as frustration with the relationship. Growth happens when we step out of our comfort zone, so go do something new together. “People often say, We’ll laugh about this someday,” Tony observes. “I say, why wait?”
4. Plan surprises
It sounds counterintuitive, but planning for spontaneity can make a huge difference for partners. One of our favorites is to plan a surprise date: block off time on your partner’s calendar but don’t say what you’ll be doing. Then spend quality time doing something you both enjoy, whether that’s going for a beverage or dinner, seeing a show, taking a walk, going on a weekend getaway… Your partner will see that you care enough to make time for them and you’ll remember reasons that you got into this relationship in the first place.
5. Stop living old stories
This moment is the only thing that’s real. So don’t filter your partner through a past story. That’s old news and it’s over. Instead, think about what will make that person feel loved and seen. Then do those things. Don’t know? Ask.
Giving shows that you’re making your partner a priority. Remember, if you contribute nothing, you get nothing. If you get nothing, it’s likely that you feel insignificant and unloved. Instead, think about what you can give to your partner to make them feel filled, seen, and understand that they are your top priority. Go farther than your partner expects and you’ll be each other’s own #1 fan.
Create surprises, not roadblocks. An even easier way to keep your spark? Do what you did at the beginning of your relationship and there won’t be an end.
Learn more about putting the passion back into your relationship by checking out our ultimate relationship guide.
Header image credit © Hrecheniuk Oleksii/shutterstock