Rekindle Romance in Long-term Relationships
In long-term relationships, keeping the romance alive isn’t always an easy task. Everyday life can get in the way of doing small romantic gestures for our partner that we enjoyed at the beginning of the relationship. This relationship dynamic can hinder romance and connection. The good news though? It doesn’t have to be this way. Long-term relationship dynamics open opportunities to rediscover each other, rekindle your connection and keep your romance alive.
As an online marriage counselor and relationship coach, I want to share with you some of the same tips I share with my couples clients who too are struggling to keep the romance alive. This way you can get started on rekindling the romance in your relationship.
9 Ways to Practice Keeping the Romance Alive in Long-term Relationships
Communicate Your Needs and Listen to Your Partner
It’s true that communication is one of the most important factors to any relationship when it comes to keeping the romance alive: It’s also one of the most difficult things for couples to do effectively. This is especially true if your relationship is going through something completely new – new challenges, new hurdles, new arguments, new annoyances!
Communicating effectively takes practice, and it is important that during times when we worry about so much, we also pay attention to our needs and communicate these with our partner.
Acknowledge your frustrations, tell them what would help you feel more at ease, more loved, more connected. When your partner shares their needs, make sure you put your phone down and pay attention. This will help your partner feel heard, understood, and will also help you get on the same page and come up with solutions together.
[For more on building better communication with your partner, check out this three-part communciation podcast series: Solve The Biggest Problem In Your Relationship: Communication]
Dress Up For Yourself and Your Partner
It’s not uncommon or unexpected to get “comfortable” in your relationship. Some personal habits you might have upheld in the early dating stages of your relationship may not feel as important now – and that’s okay! However, for my couples that are struggling to rekindle their romance flame, I recommend that they try dressing up once or twice a week, even if you’re just having dinner at home.
Do your hair, put on makeup, perfume, cologne, or whatever it is that makes you feel nice. Do this for yourself (as when you look great you feel better), and do this for your partner, so they can see you as your most confident and attractive self as well.
If you are struggling with self-worth and low self-esteem, you’re not alone. With everything this world throws at us, it’s not a surprise that we struggle so often to realize how truly valuable and wonderful we are. If these factors are hindering you from keeping the romance alive, I encourage you to read this reminder: You Are Worthy of Love and Respect, and know that you deserve love and respect! For more on building self-esteem and confidence, check out: How to Increase Self Confidence (Part 1).
Compliment Each Other Regularly
Genuine compliments can make us feel so special. Make sure you practice gratitude and appreciation of each other every day. Focusing on qualities that you love and appreciate in one another primes your brain to notice the positives and not only the negative or frustrating things in each other.
If you can, create an “appreciation jar,” where you each write a compliment or appreciation about your partner every day.
Have you heard of micro-dates? These are fantastic ways to connect with your partner regularly throughout your day, read more about micro-dates here: The Micro-Date Revolution.
Turn Off the Screens (Activity Ideas Below)
Make sure you have screen-free time. This includes TV, computers, tablets, and phones. Try an activity (ideas below) during this, and focus on each other. It may feel a little awkward at first, but the more time you spend away from the screen and together in interactive and engaging activities, the easier and more enjoyable it will become. You’ll get to where you both look forward to those screen-free activities together.
[Stuck on social and feeling down? Read more about Social Media and Happiness: How to Make Them Co-Exist]
Plan Your Routines Together
Plan out some daily routines, chores, activities, and who is doing what. Having a plan, even when you feel you don’t need one because you are just at home, can be very helpful in avoiding building frustrations.
Your routine can include planning out the necessary chores, creating a menu for the week, and identifying the activities you’d like to do and when you will do them.
It’s important to have a plan when you want to accomplish something, and your relationship is no different. If you set yourself (and your relationship) up for success, you’re both more likely to follow through on your commitments.
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Build a Team Environment
WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER. Doing some of the activities outlined below, such as starting and completing a challenge together, can be an easy and stress-free way to create a sense of team spirit. Building a team environment in your relationship will help you feel more connected and ready to tackle the challenges that you are facing (whether they be internal or external to your relationship).
Create Space for “Me Time”
This may sound like a contradiction to my point before, but it is a lot easier to participate in the ‘team,’ when we feel like we can be our own selves as well.
Try and take some time apart each day. If you’re not able to leave the home, spend some time in different rooms of your house. This may even be just taking a long bath with some relaxing music while your partner is in the living room reading a book.
By creating space for “me time” you’re actually encouraging a healthy self-care routine with yourself and for your partner. Here’s more on self-care and independence in a relationship: How to Not Lose Yourself in a Relationship and How to Develop Your Self-Identity and Experience Personal Growth in a Committed Relationship.
Continue Making An Effort (And Seek Help When Needed)
Complacency is the enemy of romance. Once we stop making an effort for each other, it is inevitable that romance and the spark you once had will fade. Effort doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you try to do right by your partner, and implement some of the strategies outlined here, your partner will definitely appreciate all that you are trying to do.
If you find that you’re struggling to make an effort, reach out for support. Whether that’s discussing it with your partner, asking for friendly advice from a trusted friend or family member, or reaching out to a therapist or coach – there’s help out there for you when you need it (and we all do from time to time).
If you want to learn more about couples counseling: Find out if Online Marriage Counseling, Online Couples Counseling, or an International Relationship Coach is right for you.
Make Time For Intimacy
Physical affection and sexuality can be difficult in times of stress. Try to ensure that it doesn’t take the backseat completely. In long-term relationships, we can get busy with “life” and forget to connect with our partner on a more intimate level, which is a major factor in keeping the romance alive.
“In most long-term relationships, sooner or later there will be a time when the sexual dynamic is not as ambient as it once was. Even in a happy and otherwise fulfilling relationship, sexuality can take a hit due to several reasons, including stress, major life events, hormonal changes, physiological concerns, etc. However, when things in the bedroom become a little more dull, repetitive, or almost absent, there are quite a few ways to ‘spice things up.’”
Quote From: How To Keep Stress From Tanking Your Sex Life
Keeping the Romance Alive: Activities to Try
Try something new together – Novelty is a great way to build romance and connection. Any of the ideas below would work, but coming up with something together can be a fun activity as well.
Play games – Board games, card games, or brain teasers: try out a few and see what the two of you enjoy the most. You can even make a game night out of it and invite some friends over.
Double Dates – There are fun new ways to have double dates these days. Whether you’re meeting up in person or over virtual video – you can meet up for outdoor activities, dinner, or even host a virtual cooking or game night!
Exercise together – You can set this as a challenge and encourage each other to follow through with completing the challenge. For example, complete 100 squats every day. Break it up to 50 in the morning and 50 in the evening or break it up even more to 25 at one time. You can also exchange it for sit-ups or push-ups, or any activity that doesn’t require much space or equipment.
This is an especially good activity for those looking to build intimacy in your relationship. Taking care of yourself physically can lead to healthier sex life!
Have a picnic – Outdoor and indoor picnics are both great ways to connect with your partner. Lay down a blanket at your favorite outdoor area or venue, or in the living room, put on some music, and bring out some favorite picnic foods you can easily find at home. This could be cheese and crackers, cold meats, olives, dips, fruits, drinks, chocolates, or anything you can source and have some fun with.
Not wanting to put the work into building a picnic? Search for a charcuterie business near you that will provide the picnic (and maybe even the setup and clean-up!) so that you can spend the time focusing on each other and not on what side dish you’d like to bring.
Try a food sensory activity – You could do this during the picnic, or at a different time. Place small and easily manageable pieces of different food items in your partner’s mouth while they are blindfolded, and have them try to guess what the food item is. This could even be a good activity for building intimacy together.
Cook something together – If one of you is usually responsible for cooking, the other should give it a go with your assistance. Or, if you typically opt for takeout – maybe connecting with an interactive cooking class either in your local area or online would be a fun idea to participate in together. Find some recipes that you’d both like to try and complete the whole process together, from food prep to cooking to eating your lovely meal.
Walk down memory lane – Look at old pictures of the two of you. Remember those times, the fun memories, and what you liked about each other back then. Maybe even spend a moment appreciating how far you’ve come since then and all that you have accomplished together.
Eye gazing activity – Sounds simplistic and silly, but this is a powerful activity that stimulates the bonding hormones in your brains and helps with feeling connected. It can feel like the world’s problems melt away and it is just you two that matter.
While sitting, face each other, make sure you are touching in some way (such as holding hands), and try looking into each other’s eyes for 5 minutes without speaking or looking away. Once the giggling subsides, you’ll start really appreciating the connection this activity is creating.
Meditate together – There are a number of free meditation apps and channels on YouTube that will guide you through how and what to do. It is such a nice way to relax and connect at the same time.
Try spending a small amount of time together at first and building up as you feel comfortable. Even just 10 minutes together can spark a renewed spirit in your relationship.
Bedtime routine – Go to bed each day with the intention of letting the day’s stressors and irritations behind. Say a few kind words to each other and go to bed with a kiss and a cuddle when you have the chance.
If you find that your relationship is struggling and it seems difficult to rekindle the romance, online marriage counseling can be helpful in identifying where things started shifting and how to get back into a happier place.
Wishing you the best,
Meet Dori: a kind, empathetic couples counselor, individual therapist, and life coach with specialized education and certification in sex therapy. Her friendly style makes it safe to talk about anything, and her solution-focused approach helps you move past the past, and into a bright new future of intimacy and connection.
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