Has your long-term relationship lost its spark?
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 go to the toilet with the bathroom door open.
To keep the excitement in your relationship, you both have to work at it a bit. Try some of these tips to reignite your long-term relationship.
1. Experiment with doing novel things
Interpret this tip in any way you like – “novel” means something different for everyone.
Novel things can be as simple as trying out 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.
What makes doing a new thing feel very alive and nourishing is bringing 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 long-term relationship is low in sexual energy, take steps to ramp it up. 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. Try some new techniques (it’s easy to learn with the Internet), and maybe buy a new toy.
3. Do a thrilling activity
Sky diving, mountain biking, surfing, wave-boarding, riding a roller coaster, hiking the outback—any of these will get you out of a routine. 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 will help you both regard each other 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. 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, congratulations, 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?
7. Have a regular date night
You probably used to do this at the beginning of your relationship all the time. You know – where you used to get dressed up and go out to dinner or an event and make each other feel special.
Well, 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 my book.
Do you need relationship help?
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 for Kindle on Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.