Don’t fall victim to the end of the “honeymoon phase” thinking. Whether you’ve been together five, 10 or 20 years, romance is still “absolutely possible,” says Toronto based marriage and relationships therapist Joan Marsman.
The secret to keeping the connection alive resides in making the effort, she adds.
Here are four tips from Marsman for recommitting yourself to love, romance and sexual desire — all the good stuff that brought you and your amour together in the first place.
1. Get warm and fuzzy.
Romance is not sex and sex is not romance. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive either.
“Romance is a lifestyle,” says Marsman. Being romantic is “something you can do on an ongoing basis and bring as part of your being,” she adds.
To keep the spark alive, aim to make your partner feel warm and fuzzy. Pull out the pet names, tickle his arm when he’s watching TV, and don’t fail to tell them just how cute you think they look with those new sun-kissed freckles on their nose.
“Romance is maintained with continuing to use pet names or continuing to tell your partner how special they are and that you still find them attractive. It’s a maintenance thing,” says Marsman.
2. Look good. Feel good!
We don’t want to be unduly critical, but if you’re aiming to reignite your partner’s passion you may want to reconsider your affection for wearing those hole-y jogging pants, a.k.a. your post-work athleisure-wear.
If you want to re-woo your amour start by taking an interest in yourself, says Marsman.
“When you take more interest in yourself and fuelling your own gas tank, so to speak, you become a more interesting person and your partner is going to want to know what’s going on with you.”
That doesn’t mean you have to greet him at the front door wearing Saran wrap, but it may mean you treat yourself to a spa day, swap your sweats for a maxi dress once in a while, or get a blowout for kicks. You’ll feel good and your self-confidence won’t go unnoticed. Who knows, once he sees you all spruced up he may decide to shower before he crawls into bed.
3. Remember: you’re in love!
The first flush of romance may have passed, but it never hurts to remind yourself that you’re not just partners, you’re lovers. Unfortunately, the demands of domesticity often make us forget this fact and people in love start to feel like overextended co-owners of a startup small business (and one that’s teetering on the brink of bankruptcy).
“It can be easy to get caught up in the routines and the humdrum and lose sight of the fact that you’re both people and thought the other was interesting and liked being around each other,” says Marsman.
Marsman’s advice: for the space of an afternoon, or weekend forget the mortgage, the Visa payments, the failing furnace and remind yourself that you’re in a relationship with a pretty special person.
Go for a walk, a bike ride or to a B&B for the night and “reconnect as a couple.” The only rule: no talk of domestic affairs.
4. Don’t take a sex slump so seriously.
Sexual desire waxes and wanes over the course of a day so it’s no surprise that it does over the course of a long-term relationship too, especially when life, work and health get in the way. For example, you may be heavily pregnant (hello, desire killer!), dealing with an illness, grief over the loss of a loved one, or just plain overworked and exhausted.
“Be open and understanding to the changes in sexual response in your body,” says Marsman. “We don’t have to be sexy all the time,” she says.
In fact, make that your mantra. Sexual droughts, and periods of inactivity are normal. That being said, you shouldn’t throw up your hands and give up on desire either, says Marsman. Stay open to spontaneity and playfulness in your sexual interaction, she says. Think about it in much the same way you think about dinner — a little variety is good.
“We have to eat every day and how do we keep that interest? We look for new recipes, for new restaurants, for new ways to cook macaroni…at times it’s tedious but it’s something that we have to put effort into,” says Marsman.
Tell us, what do you and your partner do to keep the romance alive in the summer?