Throughout a long-term relationship or marriage, it’s perfectly normal for things to feel a little flat. Daily responsibilities, work-related stress, kids, the rhythm of life, and many other factors, can get in the way of that heart-skipping-a-beat feeling you once had for each other. But as we all know, the honeymoon always eventually fades. This begs the question: Is there anything you can do to get that feeling back?
Research shows that people stay in relationships for various reasons. Among those surveyed in one study by the Pew Research Center, 64% stated that having shared interests was important to them; more than half (56%) of married adults said sharing household chores with their spouse was important and 61% stated that a satisfying sexual relationship was also crucial to their marriage. But even if so, it’s possible for a spouse or significant other to feel more like a roommate, co-parent, or live-in best friend. You may love each other very much, but that’s not always enough to keep the passion alive.
Reinvigorating Your Relationship
If you have not felt a spark in your relationship for a while, try these tips. With a little work and creativity, you can revive your connection and rediscover what made you fall in love in the first place.
1. Work on Improving Your Mood
Sure, it’s easier said than done, but monitoring and improving your mood can result in happiness for your spouse. One study of 5,000 people over 20 years found that happiness is contagious. On the flip side, sadness isn’t as contagious. Therefore, having a happy partner improves your likelihood of being happy by 15% while having an unhappy one lowers your chances by just 7%. In other words, you can add zest to your relationship simply by spreading joy.
2. Take a Walk Down Memory Lane
Whether you dust off your wedding photo album, look at old Facebook memories, or pull up photos and videos from past vacations, walking down memory lane can help you remember the good times you’ve had with each other. It’s about remembering why you connected with your partner in the first place. Memories will help with that. And for added incentive as to why you should take a walk down memory lane, consider this: A University of Southampton study shows that happy memories can lead to increased happiness and higher self-esteem.
3. Get Physical
While it wouldn’t hurt to try and spice up your intimate life, just reincorporating everyday physical touch can be very helpful. This could be anything from holding hands to a pat on the back. Physical touch is an important human need. Showing your partner you love them and want to touch them can be very powerful.
4. Let Go of Resentments
Everyone has some negative character traits that they need to work on. As a partner, you have a responsibility to let them know what these are while offering advice on how to better themselves in these areas. However, going too far with this and having a chip on your shoulder about everything that happened in the past can rob you of the core love you have for your partner.
All of those bitter feelings will add up over time and cause you to keep them at arm’s length, especially if these feelings aren’t properly addressed. Take a hard look at what is holding you back, let go of resentment, and strive for a more lighthearted approach to their flawed qualities.
5. Be Kind
Simple enough, right? Sometimes in marriage, we forget to be kind. Our negative feelings caused by whatever else is going on in our lives can throw a wrench in our ability to be kind. Research shows that simply being kind and loving to your spouse will help you feel more in love with them.
6. Make a List
Write down what you love about your partner and have them do the same. Do this in private and think about what it is that you adore about them. Take your time and create the list over a series of days if necessary. Once you are finished, give the list to your partner. Sometimes it’s easier to share our feelings through the written word. This has also been proven to be extremely therapeutic.
7. Step Out of the Routine
Spice things up and go out on a date instead of having another taco Tuesday at home. Meet your partner after work and hit the gym together. Take a Friday off and escape on a weekend getaway. The smallest sidestep from a typical routine can be enough to remind you both just how much fun life is together.
8. Ask How They Are Doing
Sure, you talk about your day over dinner, but let’s be honest, you’re not getting the full story because you’re not asking the right questions. You need to truly listen to your partner. Instead of asking the same routine ‘how was your day’ question, take a timeout and find out how they are doing both mentally and physically. Asking for something so simple can have a very powerful effect. For example, unbeknownst to you, your partner may be physically drained.
Similarly, your partner may be suffering from depression, which could be hindering the relationship. Showing your support for their mental health is one of the best ways to bring back the spark in a relationship.
9. Randomly Text Them
Let your partner know you’re thinking about them throughout the day. You don’t have to do it every day, but once in a while, a simple “I love you” text can mean the world.
10. Don’t Give Up on Intimacy
Physical affection is so important to a strong relationship. It produces oxytocin, the neuropeptide, that promotes feelings of bonding, trust, and devotion in the brain. Stress and busy schedules can already make a person feel distant from their partner, but a lack of intimacy can shatter everything. If you have to, add it to the calendar. Get a babysitter to take the kids out of the house and spend a night in together. Just don’t give up on this.
11. Do Something New Together
You don’t have to jump out of a plane and go skydiving together. Although, that would certainly be exciting. It could be as simple as enrolling in a cooking class, trying a new restaurant, or even test-driving that Tesla you’ve been dreaming about. New doesn’t have to be extravagant. Think about how special it was when you were dating your partner. Just going out for ice cream was fun. Look for ways to bring those feelings back.
12. Give Back Together
Volunteering for charitable causes together can help you see a side of your partner you never knew, or forgot existed. Whether you clean out cages at the local animal shelter, plant a garden in the community, or serve food at a local food bank, doing good together can help you grow in your relationship and value the other person.
13. Put Down Your Screens
We all spend more time on our mobile devices than we really should. So it’s easy to get stuck staring into your screen during times that you’ve designated to be together. So put your device on silent, or, if possible, leave it at home when you go out. That way you can focus on one another without needless distractions.
Engaging in meditation has been shown to improve relationships. It can help you regulate your mood and become more empathetic, two factors that can be crucial for healthy relationships.
15. Seek Guidance from a Professional
Some people view couples counseling as a last resort; something you only try when the relationship is nearly over anyway. However, a trained professional can help you come out of your slump and successfully reinvigorate your relationship. There’s no need to view therapy exclusively as the “nuclear option.”
For those who still see couples counseling this way, one great alternative is connecting with a therapist via an online marriage counseling provider. This will help you access the same level of relationship expertise without the significant cost and time commitment that’s typically required when attending professional couples counseling.
These are just a handful of ways to add a serious spark to your relationship, but the possibilities are endless. Ultimately, you will need to work for it and work on yourself in the process. But in doing so, you will not only improve as a person, but you’ll recreate those initial feelings you once had that you still crave to this day.
- Geiger, A. W. (2016, November). Sharing chores a key to good marriage, say majority of married adults. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/30/sharing-chores-a-key-to-good-marriage-say-majority-of-married-adults/
- Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2008). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. BMJ, 337(dec04 2), a2338. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a2338
- Cheung, W. Y., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., Hepper, E. G., Arndt, J., & Vingerhoets, A. J. J. M. (2013b). Back to the future: Nostalgia increases optimism. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(11), 1484–1496. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213499187
- Smith, E. E. (2021, June 13). The Secret to Love Is Just Kindness. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/
- Hertenstein, M. J., Holmes, R., McCullough, M., & Keltner, D. (2009). The communication of emotion via touch. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 9(4), 566–573. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016108
- May, C. J., Ostafin, B. D., & Snippe, E. (2019). Mindfulness meditation is associated with decreases in partner negative affect in daily life. European Journal of Social Psychology, 50(1), 35–45. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.2599