“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, from someone you know. 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 know how to keep a relationship alive long-term.
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. This is a myth. While it’s normal to lose the spark in a relationship when you get comfortable, you can always get it back. And there are steps you can take now to avoid losing the spark at all.
Whether you are in a new relationship and want to learn how to keep the spark alive or you’ve been with your partner for a while and want to learn how to bring the spark back in a relationship, Tony Robbins has the answers.
How can you tell when a relationship loses its spark?
When you’re with someone for many years, your relationship will naturally go through phases. You’ll encounter relationship stressors like financial problems and family obligations that will shift your focus elsewhere – but you’ll know when you’ve really lost the spark in a relationship by these signs.
- There’s no physical touch: Intimacy is the difference between a friend and a partner, and it doesn’t always mean sex. Holding hands, cuddling, warm hugs and giving compliments are all a part of intimacy, and the spark in a relationship depends on them.
- You don’t “date” anymore: Life gets busy for every couple, yet making time to go out and have fun together must be a priority. If you’ve stopped celebrating anniversaries and birthdays or having date nights, it’s time to rekindle the spark.
- You’ve stopped making an effort: Physical appearances change – you’re bound to get older or even gain a little weight over the long-term. But if you aren’t even interested in looking good and feeling healthy for your partner, that’s a sign of trouble.
- You’re less interested in spending time together: When a relationship loses its spark, you may spend more time with your friends than your partner. You may even find that you’re very easily annoyed by them, causing you to punish your partner or avoid each other altogether.
Is it normal to lose the spark in your relationship?
Yes, it’s common for long-term couples to start wondering how to keep a relationship alive. It isn’t the loss of the spark in a relationship that is the problem – the problem arises when couples lack the commitment to rekindle the romance. Unfortunately, this loss of passion and intimacy is often accepted in our society as inevitable. That’s another myth. You never have to accept a relationship in which you feel anything less than loved, admired and wanted.
Reasons for losing the spark in a relationship
Couples will cite countless reasons for their fire dying. Usually, these reasons center around not having enough time to spend together and slowly losing that connection they both treasured. That might be because of long distance, seemingly incompatible work schedules or growing responsibilities like dealing with children and their needs. What might have been a temporary state of disconnection unconsciously becomes habit. The priority for spending time together shifts from “tomorrow” or “next week” to “when things are settled” and eventually fades into “never.”
Less time together eventually leads to a loss of intimacy, which manifests as a loss of attraction. The loss of attraction leads to decreased communication between partners, starting a cycle of negativity that becomes one of frustration and further distance. You stop being gentle and loving with each other and start treating each other as roommates.
There’s no way to stay connected and intimate when you see each other only in passing as you handle all of life’s other obligations. You must refocus and recommit if you want to learn how to keep the spark alive.
How to keep a relationship alive
Learning how to keep the spark alive is possible. It takes more than just scheduling a date or two to make real, lasting change in a relationship. When both you and your partner are committed to reigniting the spark in a relationship, you’ll find that anything is possible.
You have to create what you want, not just hope it will happen or rely on your partner to put in the work. 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? You can’t just expect something to change without your input.
2. Talk with your partner
When was the last time you really talked with your partner? To keep the spark alive, communication is a must. 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. It means sharing a real, emotional connection with your loved one and seeing things from their point of view.
Research shows 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. If you’re wondering how to bring the spark back in a relationship, you must make good communication a top priority.
What we’re attracted to in others is oftentimes 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 as communication deteriorates, which comes through as frustration with the relationship.
Relationships can grow stale when routine and habit set in – and growth is the key to how to keep a relationship alive. Vow to learn something new together, take a vacation to somewhere neither of you have ever been or find an activity you can experience together. To grow together instead of growing apart, you have to be willing to stretch yourselves both individually and as a couple.
4. Plan surprises
It sounds counterintuitive, but planning for spontaneity can make a huge difference for partners – especially when it comes to how to keep the spark alive. Planning a surprise date is a great way to break out of your rut and show your partner you’re thinking of them. 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 or even something like getting popcorn and drinks for a fun movie night at home. Your partner will see that you care enough to make time for them and you’ll remember the reasons that you got into this relationship in the first place.
5. Stop living old stories
When a relationship loses its spark due to an event like infidelity, or when trust has been lost for another reason, each partner will need to make a choice to consciously move forward. This means truly forgiving them and letting go of whatever old disappointments you’re clinging to. This moment is the only thing that’s real and embracing forgiveness for all those who have wronged you in the past – especially your partner – is the only way to truly step into our present.
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 in this moment. When you release the past, you can love your partner for who they really are and discover how to keep a relationship alive in a new context.
As Tony says, “The secret to living is giving,” and this certainly applies to relationships. 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, think about what you can give to your partner to make them feel filled and 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 and opportunities for connection, not roadblocks. When you recreate how you acted at the beginning of your relationship, you can easily learn how to keep a relationship alive and ensure it’s one of the most fulfilling parts of your life.
Learn more about putting the spark back into your relationship by checking out our ultimate relationship guide.
Header image credit © Hrecheniuk Oleksii/shutterstock