• Keeping The Spark Alive: Breathing New Life Into Your Relationship

    Together Alone

    It’s probably safe to assume that everyone loves the comfort and security of their marriage or relationship provides. But, it’s probably also a solid bet to assume no one wants that spark, that magic in their relationship, to disappear. It can seem like a catch-22. In order to feel attracted to a new partner, we have to feel that spark. And yet, in order for the relationship to last, we have to have a certain level of comfort with this person, which means the mystery fades.

    I’m here to tell you while the mystery can fade, the spark doesn’t have to go out along with it. Humans are complex and multitudinous beings. There is always something new to discover, a new level of openness to attain, a new way to activate our senses or hone in on what’s important.

    You’ve heard the usual advice: Schedule a regular date night. Restrict the bedroom to “bedroom activities” only. Eat aphrodisiacs. Pencil in time for sex. Never go to bed mad. And absolutely, if you haven’t tried these things yet, by all means, do and see if they work for you. But I won’t spend more time or internet space telling you why you should do these things. You’ve heard it before.

    Instead, I want to emphasize some things that I believe will make you a happier, more turned-on individual overall. I want to share things that will allow you to connect on a deeper level with your partner, things that open up new opportunities for discovery. Because, truthfully, you can eat all the aphrodisiacs you want during your pre-scheduled dates, but if you’re feeling tapped out from work stress and your partner can’t look away from his or her cell phone, then those efforts aren’t going to have the payoff you want.

    So, that said, here’s what I recommend based upon working with hundreds of couples for over 25 years. Try these things and see if they breathe new air into your relationship.

    Prioritize self-care

    Wait, we’re talking about relationships, right? Yup! I’m saying do little things for yourself that make you feel good, healthy, and attractive. It isn’t just about self-indulgence. Just as they say you should drink water BEFORE you feel thirsty because once you have pangs of thirst, you’re already dehydrated. Refilling your figurative well is no different.

    There have been plenty of studies out there proving that exercise can improve your sex life – and it’s not just because it makes us feel better about our physical appearances. For example, exercise increases adrenaline, and adrenaline has been shown to increase attraction to our mates. If high-adrenaline activities aren’t your thing, try restorative yoga or a professional massage.

    These activities trigger our nervous system’s “rest and digest” response, which then allows our bodies to recover from stress and prioritize our sexual impulses over other processes. Stress reduction alone can have a profound impact on not only your sex life but your ability to connect with your partner outside of the bedroom as well.

    Shake up your routine

    Spontaneity and newness shift your brain from a passive state to an active one. Senses are heightened as we are more focused in the present moment. Now, this doesn’t have to be some elaborate thing that turns your entire day upside down.

    Try just changing one thing in your routine. If you automatically begin loading the dishwasher after dinner, try leaving the dishes alone for just 15 minutes and take a walk with your partner. Instead of your usual quick peck on the cheek to say goodbye to your partner before work, try grabbing them for a prolonged, heartfelt kiss. Maybe if you already have a date night on your calendar, but even your dates seem to be in a rut, try doing a new activity together instead of the same old dinner-and-a-movie combo.

    Even trying out a new change in your appearance like a new haircut or a new pair of jeans can perk you up or make you feel more attractive, and when you feel more attractive, you’re more likely to be attracted to your partner.

    Plan a dream getaway together

    Sit down with your partner and have fun with this idea. Dream up your ideal trip for the future–it could be a lavish stay at an exotic location or a quiet, cozy break from the everyday. The sky’s the limit here, but there’s just one catch: It actually doesn’t matter if you ever take this trip in real life or not. (Although, of course, it’s a great idea if you can make it happen!)

    What this activity does is it boosts your imagination. It gets you talking about something new and stirs up new ideas for connecting, relaxing and revitalizing together. That conversation alone can amplify the romantic feelings you and your partner have for each other.

    Relive what originally sparked your relationship

    If the location of your relationship’s beginning is accessible to you, then by all means, you can literally revisit the places where you fell in love with each other. Maybe go back to the first restaurant you went to. But if not, you can actually conjure up the same feelings just by talking with your partner and reminiscing about how your relationship began. This can help you both to get back in touch with what it was you both saw in each other in the beginning.

    Reliving those happy memories allows us to feel those feelings all over again. Many things may have changed in your relationship over the years, but if you can tap into those happy, tingly vibes again, you can create new memories associated with those same feelings.

    Add new energy to the bedroom with
    “Sensate Focus” exercises

    Would you like to know your partner like the back of your hand? Explore the sensations of touch and what you and your partner respond to.

    The next time you’re feeling up for a little action, try this sensate focus exercise as a warm up: Decide who will be the “giver” and who will be the “receiver”. The giver will take time trying to find all the different ways he or she can turn the receiver on, starting with the very top of the head and gradually working all the way down. The giver should work on stimulating all five of the senses using his or her fingertips, hands, mouth…then reverse roles. The giver now becomes the receiver.

    The benefit of this exercise is to help each of you to focus on the subtle aspects of your sexuality and learn new ways of exciting your partner and being excited by your partner.

    I bet you’ll both discover new erogenous zones and techniques that you never knew you’d love!

    Give the phone a time-out and give your partner some distraction-free time

    For many of us, this is a tough one. Our phones and tablets have become like fifth appendages to us. But the truth is, just because we spend hours every day with our partners doesn’t mean we’re connecting. If you have time to do this for an hour a day, then great! Do that. But it’s completely OK to start small. I recommend sitting down together for at least 10 minutes a day just to see how the other person is doing. This sounds completely mundane, but you’d be surprised at what a little undivided attention can do for a fizzling spark. A little eye contact and genuine interest are like oxygen to a flame.

    Speak to your partner in their language

    By now, it seems like everyone has at least heard of the “5 Love Languages”. But have you taken the time to find out what yours or your partner’s language is? While it’s true that we all need and respond to all five, the basic concept is that we are all dominated by at least one (sometimes two) love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch. So, if you really want your “I love you” to be genuine and heard, figure out which language resonates with your partner and say it in a way that will really reach them.

    Incorporate a ritual into your day-to-day

    Rituals are powerful–they become loaded with meaning the more we do them. Find something that feels good to both you and your partner–maybe it’s grazing your hand across your partner’s back as you pass by them, maybe it’s a hug from behind while they’re washing the dishes, maybe it’s a silly inside joke that you say to each other when you’re in public or in the company of others. Whatever it is for you – choose something that reminds you both of your connection to each other regardless of what is happening in the day.

    Pay attention

    This one can take some practice, but make a point to pause, observe, and make mental notes of those little everyday moments. Express your gratitude for those little things your partner does that could easily go unnoticed. Maybe your partner is always in the habit of kissing you good morning before getting in the shower, even when he thinks you’re still sleeping. Let him know that you love that your day begins with his kiss. Maybe you overhear her grumbling about needing a new watch when she’s late and struggling to get her old watch latched around her wrist. Make a mental note and bank that thought for when holiday shopping rolls around. Or don’t wait for the holidays to come around – surprise her now!

    Little things add up

    We are often taught to recognize romance as grand gestures that sweep us off our feet, but tell me who you think is happier in the long run: The woman who is showered with flowers and gifts and a 6-page letter professing one’s affection ONCE in her life, or the woman who gets a single flower or a small token or a brief little love note every so often for the rest of her adult life? (Of course, that’s assuming that flowers, gifts, and love notes are your thing. Maybe romance is better expressed to you in other ways, but hopefully, you get my point here.)

    What I’m saying is that romance doesn’t have to be grandiose to be effective and pleasurable. Sometimes romance is simply your partner pouring you a nice cold drink after a rough day without you having to ask for it or sending a sweet or sexy text to them in the middle of the day. Sometimes it’s an impromptu lunch date at your office because you both happen to be in the same neighborhood at the same time. Sometimes it’s just holding hands again after a long period of disconnection.

    Make a point to incorporate small gestures that demonstrate: “I’ve missed you,” “I’m glad you’re here,” “I’ve been thinking about you,” “I’m still attracted to you,” “I still choose you.” And guess what–the bonus side effect of doing small things often is that it’s ALL foreplay. So many couples have discovered that anytime you can leave a positive thought (however large or small) in your partner’s mind and heart, this gets you one step closer to the bedroom and keep your spark alive.

    If, for any reason, none of these seem to be working, then there may be other unresolved issues in your relationship. Seeking out a counselor who is experienced in relationships and human sexuality can be of great benefit.

    I hope that this article was helpful. I’d love to hear feedback from you. What of these ten tips stands out to you? Do you have any other genius tips that brought back that spark? If you’d like to explore this in more detail, give me a call or contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

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