Many couples in marriages or long-term relationships feel they don’t love each other anymore. They complain there’s no passion and excitement left in their relationship.
There could be a number of reasons why this happens. “At the beginning of a relationship, everything is new and exciting,” says Terri Orbuch, relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great. “Over time, the newness and excitement decline (and sometimes disappear).” Orbuch further explains that you experience two kinds of love. Passionate love (think: sleepless nights, being over the moon) defines the early stages in a relationship. Later on, companionate love, which is characteristic of a deeper intimacy, friendship and support, replaces passionate love. “So, people aren’t really ‘out of love’ – just a different type of love develops,” says Orbuch.
Sometimes, the daily grind takes over. “In marriage and committed relationships, once the monotony of everyday life settles in–work, children, household responsibilities, dinner, groceries–the intense focus upon and interest in one another shifts and other things can become primary to the relationship,” says Anitra Durand Allen, relationship coach and author of Experience B.L.I.S.S. in Your Relationships.
Is it then possible to renew the romantic feelings? Experts say yes. “It is always possible to find love again, especially since the couple felt it at one point in the relationship,” says Columbus, Ohio-based dating coach Jonathan Bennett.
Here are five ways to rekindle the lost spark in your relationship and discover love again:
1. Try novelty: Have both of you never gone skiing? Do it together this winter. “Doing novel activities with your partner enables you both to re-experience that beginning love again,” says Orbuch. “Newness fuels passion and that ‘in-love’ feeling at the beginning of a relationship.”
2. Show warmth: Use body language to show you care. “Look him or her in the eyes and smile while you’re listening,” says Tina B. Tessina, licensed psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. “Your companion will automatically feel more understood and cared about, which will change the feeling level of the discussion.” Similarly, use non-sensual touch often. Tip: touch her arm while you are in the car.
3. Say it nicely: If your partner is not meeting your expectations, you can get jaded. But there’s a way to convey your concerns nicely–and avoid trouble. “If you feel like you would like more of the good stuff from your partner, start out with a heartfelt statement of appreciation and gratitude,” says Diana Kirschner, psychologist and author of 30 Days to Love: The Ultimate Relationship Turnaround Guide. Here’s an example from Kirschner: “Honey, I love the way you clean up the kitchen—it looks so great! I would really love it if you did the dishes tonight!”
4. Get couple time: Make it a point to spend exclusive time together. “It’s too easy to get busy and let other aspects of life (work, children, and daily chores) overwhelm the relationship,” says Bennett. “By setting aside ‘couple time’ it’s possible to get past the outside stress and give each person space and time to discover why he or she fell in love in the first place.” Book two tickets for that concert you both have been meaning to attend. No kids or friends allowed!
5. Re-discover each other: You may have been together for years, but it’s possible there are many things you don’t know about each other. “Get to know each other again, like you did when you first met,” says Orbuch. “Ask questions about things you don’t know.” Don’t know what your wife was like during grad school? Well, ask her. You may be surprised to know the answer.
It’s never too late to make amends and rediscover love. It is well worth the effort.
Click here to see Rose’s tips for healthy and happy relationships