A secure relationship doesn’t have to be monotonous
Being in a marriage or a long term relationship is a beautiful thing. You can “let it all hang out” and still receive unconditional love and acceptance. You can run around in your messy bun and sweats with no makeup and, magically, your lover will still be there. You can pass gas in your well-worn boxers, leave the door open when you go to the bathroom, and not give it a second thought.
At first, these advantages of comfort and security are a breath of fresh air. You love the fact that there is no need to worry about those things you used to do when you were first seeking attention from your partner or when you were a teen seeking attention from your high school crush.
You know, things such as the way you tried on three different outfits to find one that would spark his or her interest. The way you sought to make your crush feel special by going to each of his or her athletic events and complimenting his or her special skills afterward. The way you researched the things that pretty cheerleader or brooding guitar player liked so that you could talk about them with him or her and connect in a new way.
But, you see that’s the problem in most relationships: that we feel now, after years of being together with our partners, we don’t have to do those things.
The cold-hard truth?
Nothing, my friend, could be more damaging to a relationship than this idea.
This truth is validated in a NBC News article that features advice from “love expert” and dating coach Matthew Hussey, who “believes the things we want most from our relationship remain the same from the first date to ‘I do’ to binge-watching Netflix on a boring Saturday night.”
So, it would seem that a large part of keeping the spark alive in our relationships is going back to those activities we did when we were first trying to gain the attention of our love interest.
What are those things? Here are a few of them.
Work on looking good for your partner (and you)
Remember the time and effort you used to put in when you were trying to “woo” your partner? No box on your “how to allure” checklist was left out.
Hair? Perfectly styled. Make-up? Flawlessly employed to bring out the emerald green in your eyes or make your lips look more luscious. Accessories? Some eye-catching pieces to highlight your collarbone, your manicured nails, or your perfectly “man-scaped” chest hair. Perfume or cologne? Just the right scent to make him or her intoxicated.
You did it all.
And I’m not saying that this type of effort needs to be put in all the time, but I am saying it needs to be given more attention in a relationship.
There are two reasons. It benefits both you and your partner.
Personally, looking your best can boost your confidence and make you feel desirable and sexy. This confidence can also be felt by your partner when you interact with him or her. So looking your best makes you doubly attractive: your physical appearance makes you more desirable and so does your confidence and enhanced self-esteem.
For example, an article in Psychology Today entitled “13 Ways to Keep the Thrill in Your Relationship” states research that shows “when women feel good about their body… they are 19 percent more satisfied in their marriage.” And the same is undoubtedly true for men as well.
The article focuses on advice from life coach and success expert Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, who recounts a client’s comment about the importance of making attempts to be attractive for one’s mate. He states: “I don’t need [my partner] to be skinny; I just want to know that she puts in some effort to look good. It makes me feel important.”
So boost your partner’s feelings of importance and desire by making an effort to look your best and boost your own confidence in yourself as well. I think you will find that the efforts are a “win-win” for both of you.
Pursue your passions.
Remember when your life was more than coming home, cooking dinner, watching a series on Hulu, and going to bed?
When you first met your love interest, you were likely engaged in hobbies and passions of your own. Maybe you were pursuing your education. Maybe you were going to book clubs or spending your free time visiting art museums to satisfy your love of painting or sculpture. Maybe you were taking a class on history because you have always been fascinated with the Renaissance or the Medieval period.
You had a life with interests outside of your partner. And this life likely invigorated your relationship as well.
Sherrie Campbell, a marriage and family therapist, comments on the power of pursuing your own passions to revitalize your relationship in a Web MD article. She states “independence and a sense of purpose are sexy.”
And again, just as with looking your best, the benefits are both personal and romantic. You begin to rebuild your own identity and rekindle your excitement for life by embracing things that move you intellectually or emotionally, and your passion excites your partner by adding an extra layer of mystery and intrigue about you that your partner will be excited to “unravel.”
So embrace old hobbies. Cultivate new passions, goals, or desires. Share your excitement about the things you find enjoyable, attractive, and mysteriously alluring. Chances are your partner will also find you more enjoyable, attractive, and mysteriously alluring as a result.
Take a vacation, even a “mini” one
Sometimes a long term relationship or marriage is simply too inundated with “to do’s” and other responsibilities that you can forget the things that made you first attracted to your partner.
Things get busy. Laundry. Taking care of the kids. Working on work at home.
Then things get boring.
You “lose” each other in the daily grind. You forget how sexy it was when your partner talked with passion about books, how his or her deep intellect made you tingle with attraction. You forget the way he or she used to always brighten a bad day at work with gentle words while while massaging the tight knots of stress out of your body.
The reason you forget? You’re too busy “checking the blocks” of a responsible adult or parent.
So, get away. Go somewhere where there is no laundry to be done and no children to feed or coddle or discipline.
This getaway doesn’t have to be expensive. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even have to mean a trip away from the city you call home. It could be an evening excursion to a new restaurant or an afternoon escapade to the park. A “vacation” can be a journey anywhere when you prioritize the relationship and leave the other “must do's” on the back burner.
Health.com cites the importance of new and novel “adventures” together by noting advice given by relationship and marriage specialist Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil. She explains that to “relive the feeling of falling in love[partners have to] find new ways to trigger that rush of feel-good dopamine and oxytocin.” She even suggests partners “[take] turns on different weekends to plan [a] secret activity or destination [to enjoy together] .”
Go somewhere new with your partner for a few hours or a few days. When you do, not only do the mundane tasks of “adulting” vanish for a while, but you experience new and exciting things together while triggering old, forgotten attractions that have fallen by the wayside due to everyday life.
You’ll both be exhilarated by the new experience and reminded of the reasons you fell in love with your partner in the first place.
Okay, okay. Wear the sweats and don the messy bun if you must. But while cooking dinner, show your partner the lacy, silky things you have on underneath the “mom clothes.”
Wear the thread-bare muscle shirt but make sure it shows off your toned biceps in just the right way.
When your partner comes home sweaty from a workout, tell him or her you have been wanting he or she to put other, more enjoyable ways to get sweaty and burn calories on the agenda.
Subtle hints and innuendos, simple compliments, a kind [or kinky] text or even a lingering touch or instance of eye contact can restart a romantic fire.
In an article in Bustle, relationship coach Chris Armstrong comments on the dangers of not making flirting a habit in a secure relationship. He states that “couples who stop flirting are couples who stop anticipating. Things go blasé and what was once an unpredictable stroll is now an expected lull.”
So kick your flirting into high gear. Whisper sexy promises in your partner’s ear while he or her is changing the oil in your car or cooking dinner. Catch your partner off-guard by telling the kids, who are busy watching their favorite Disney show or Netflix series, that “mom and dad need to talk privately so don’t interrupt them.” Pull your partner into the bedroom and lock the door for fifteen minutes. And I bet you know just to do with those precious minutes, right?
The bottom line
Partners who truly put in the work to keep the fires alive in a marriage or long term relationship can “have their cake and eat it too.” They can relish the comfort and security of a committed relationship while also re-experiencing the excitement of first love.
So do your homework. Your “chemistry” homework, that is. And watch your long term relationship ignite into flames of passion that keep you both coming back for more.