All long-term relationships go through good times and bad. For many sustaining the passion after years together is a challenge – and when the family has flown the nest, a relationship has to be redefined.
We all know that it is possible to keep passion, romance, excitement and sexual intensity alive through the years, but we also know that many relationships settle into a kind of friendly (or not so friendly) roommate situation. Every relationship has it’s ups and downs, but there are tools that can keep passion perking right along.
Top 10 tips for sustaining long-term relationships
I’m writing this on a cruise ship and it’s fascinating to watch people grouch at their spouses, then turn around and share a friendly smile with a stranger. We tend to take family and best friends for granted. A smile, a wink, just a moment of kindness goes a long way.
Paying attention to the details of life is important. Pick up after yourself, and pick up for each other. Put things away, help each other with the small projects around the house. These things are the currency of love.
Small surprises can create huge rewards in a relationship. I think of it as the “Martha Stewart Effect”. Taking a moment to put on a clean shirt before dinner, or using the good china, or cutting a flower from the garden and putting it on the table, are examples. All these things add colour, spice, and graciousness to our lives.
We all have bad days. It happens. When it happens to your spouse, be smart! Take the dogs to the park for an hour, order Chinese take-out for dinner. Give him/her a break! This is the reality of life. Allow for it.
Tell the truth about your feelings, and do it promptly and in a respectful, effective way. Share your disappointments and fears, but also share dreams, hopes, and gratitudes. Keeping secrets kills passion.
Life seems to have supply its own stress and worry, but we have to provide the humour on our own. Share a joke, take time to tickle each other or rent a funny movie, and do it often. The couple that laughs together, often does other fun stuff together, too!
Over a lifetime, people change. Long-term relationships change, grow and mature as you change. One of you will change careers, the other will change religions. One will have an illness, the other will make a mistake. Relationships either bend and flex with the winds of life, or they break.
I’ve saved the best for last. After a survey of dozens of couples, the big 3 items that showed up over and over began with “give little gifts”. Surprise each other with flowers, candy, a card, or other gift. Do it often. Do it for no particular reason. Do it because you love each other and thought it would be nice to show it with a gift.
The second of the “big 3” was “take time for each other”. Schedule time to walk and talk, go for drives in the country, go to dinner and see a movie together. Dozens of couples ranked time together as the most critical component in keeping romance and passion alive.
This is about sensuality perhaps more than sexuality. Couples talked about the importance of scents, of candles and flowers and walks on the beach. They talked about making love, but mostly they talked about back rubs and holding hands, and creating memories. They talked about getting dressed up and going out, and they talked about skinny-dipping. They talked about being playful and finding their own way. You can do this!
Someone has said, “Life is what happens while you were making other plans.” Romance is about real life, not about dreams and fantasies of the perfect partner, someday on a Pacific island.
Romance and passion are about taking time to enjoy the company of the person you love. Have fun. Do it today!
By Phillip Humbert
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