Has your relationship lost its spark since the first few years?
When you first met and started dating, you probably didn’t have to think about how to create excitement and interest in the time you spent together. This is normal because the early stages of a relationship are often a time of discovery and novelty.
Long-term relationships are a gift. It’s not easy for two people to come together and stay together. Humans don’t like change and being with the same person allows us to open up in ways that we can’t alone, or in a series of flings.
But the other side of being in a trust-based, long-term relationship is the potential to stagnate—you’re both so comfortable together you don’t even comb your hair anymore or you go to the toilet with the bathroom door open.
Every relationship has tough times and dry spells where you’re not spending time with each other. But regardless of what got you into this rut in the first place, if you don’t invest a certain amount of time and energy on a regular basis, you could end up with a broken relationship.
To get the spark back in your relationship, the first thing you need to know is you both have to make a conscious effort.
Try some of these tips to put the spark back in your long-term relationship.
1. Experiment with doing novel things
Interpret this one point in any way you like – “novel” means something different for everyone.
Introducing novelty can be as simple as changing up one thing in your relationship such as trying a new restaurant or walking a new route to the store together. Doing yoga instead of watching the TV might be a new thing, or turning off the smartphones for a night and sitting outside as the stars come out.
Doing something new helps you feel alive and it’s nourishing because you bring your whole self to the experience.
If you set a date with your long-term partner and you two have a fight twenty minutes before setting out, leave the fight behind when you go.
To really appreciate a new experience, and any other human being, you must get out of your head and let your heart lead.
2. Be sexually adventurous
The first year to a year and a half of a monogamous relationship is the most exciting sexually. After that, the hormones calm down a bit—it’s just human physiology.
If your relationship is low in sexual energy or physical touch, take steps to ramp up your sex life.
Contrary to popular belief, scheduling a time for sex actually works. For many people, being overworked and exhausted kills sexual spontaneity. Setting time aside for intimacy, when you both have some energy, is a way around this.
If you always have sex in the bedroom, go a month without having sex in bed. For some reason, just being in a different room or location can make things more interesting. Let your partner know if you’d like to try some new techniques to spice up your sex life (it’s easy to learn with the Internet), and maybe buy a new toy.
The benefits of physical touch are huge – you’ll feel good, feel sexy, feel attracted to your partner, and end up having more sex. All these things are a vital component to maintaining your intimate connection.
On the other hand, if your sexual connection is really stuck, consider working with a certified sex therapist who is professionally trained in helping resolve sexual intimacy issues.
3. Do a thrilling activity
Sky diving, mountain biking, surfing, wave-boarding, riding a roller coaster, hiking the outback—any of these activities are not done every day, but they will get you out of a routine and they can be done with other couples.
If you have a board and a helmet, you can ride at a skate park. Many thrilling activities don’t cost much either.
The adrenalin released through thrill-seeking—especially with your partner—is an unusual feeling. It’s not the same as runner’s high (it’s actually better) and it’s a great way to help you both regard one another in a new light.
4. Do something out of the comfort zone
For some folks, skydiving is easy but public speaking is terrifying. You know what your comfort zone is, as your partner knows theirs.
There are so many ways to put yourself out of your comfort zone. If there is something that scares you both, wade in together.
Take a public speaking course, cooking class, ballroom dancing lessons, or join a weekend volleyball league.
Entering a new and slightly uncomfortable situation together has the potential to strengthen and invigorate the relationship. And you’ll come out stronger as individuals, too.
5. Work on a project together
If you own property with your partner, you might read that and think, “Please no, not another Saturday working on the house”—but your joint project doesn’t have to be boring, or yield some sort of financial gain.
Going to the farmer’s market and picking out exotic vegetables to cook a completely new dish is a project. Walking around with your cameras taking street shots is another way to be creative in your time together.
And if you both do enjoy home improvement projects, the good news is you’ll never run out of stuff to do. The hard part here can be accommodating two people’s visions, so set a plan before you get started. Some couples find it easier to have two small gardens, one for each person, rather than one larger patch.
6. Plan a new adventure
If you really need to shake up your routine, planning a new adventure together can inject a lot of excitement into your relationship. And you don’t have to go overseas to have an adventure – local adventures can be just as exciting.
Take some time to work out the itinerary and plan where you want to go and what you want to do in each location.
If you do decide to take a trip together, agree on a plan for handling the stress before you leave. And leave all relationship drama at home because why would you want to drag it along?
Focus on moving forward as an intimate team that works hand-in-hand.
7. Have a regular date night
You probably used to do this at the beginning of your romantic relationship all the time. You know – where you used to get dressed up and go out to a candlelit dinner or an event and made each other feel special. Perhaps this was a regular occurrence before family life took over.
Well, you don’t need to wait for special occasions to spend more time together. Relationship experts all agree that a regular date night can help you reignite your relationship spark because it’s something you can look forward to each week or fortnight. You can take turns in choosing the location, activity, or event, or just tell your partner to get dressed and surprise them.
My bonus tip is to try and have sex before you go on the date. Many couples come home from a date night either tired, a little tipsy, or both. And neither is conducive to having great sex. When you have sex before you leave the house, you will feel recharged, connected, and you can just focus on having a fun night together.
With a regular date night, you’re making a special effort for your partner and for your relationship, and that’s a win-win in creating a healthy relationship in my book.
Do you need to get the spark back in your relationship?
If you’re considering relationship counselling services, Clinton Power has extensive experience helping people create better relationships through his counselling process of using evidence-based therapeutic approaches based on the science of healthy relationships.
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.