How to Keep the Passion in Your Marriage

Bills can wait! Here's why you should savor the heady, irrational romance of the Passion stage for as long as you can.

By Sarì Harrar and Rita DeMaria | Ph.D. from The 7 Stages of Marriage

Experts say the first two years of marriage are crucial for building skills to carry you past the inevitable disappointments ahead when the sizzle of passion cools. We’re happy to report that this work is fun, loving, romantic, and sexy.

Anthropologists say the short-lived infatuation of passion is merely Mother Nature’s way of ensuring the survival of the species. Luckily, it also provides a template for lifelong marriage. “Find a way to put all that passion in a bottle,” suggests marriage and sex therapist Pat Love, Ed.D., author of Hot Monogamy and the Truth About Love. “Keep a journal and write it all down. Take pictures. Save receipts and silly trinkets. Really record it so that you can remember it and bring it back later on.”

Too many couples switch into old-married-couple roles once they’ve unpacked their honeymoon luggage. They want to get down to tasks like getting the bathroom painted and choosing a color scheme for the kitchen. “They’ve got checklists and lots of unromantic plans, but I think a lot of that can wait,” Dr. Love notes. “This is a stage where you should really enjoy romance. It’s free right now. Later on, you’ll have to really work at it.”

So buy or decorate a pretty box and keep mementos — in later years, they’ll have the power to drop you back through time to the feelings that ran high on the day you ate that custard at the lake, had dinner at the little Italian place on a side street, or walked through the park during a
twilight snowstorm. One woman interviewed for this book experienced this delicious time warp while cleaning out the basement with her husband. “We were moving boxes, throwing old trash away, when suddenly, my husband opened a file folder and pulled out the receipt from the first time we’d rented a cottage together by the Chesapeake Bay in Chincoteague, Virginia. It was the trip where we told each other we loved each other for the first time. I stood in my dirty old basement and cried in his arms — happy to remember it and happy he’d quietly saved the memory!”

Romantic remembrances aren’t just a girl thing. Guys can — and should — be collectors too. “When I interviewed couples for one of my books, there wasn’t one man who said he didn’t love romance,” Dr. Love says. “All the women liked it, but the men said they didn’t get very much of it. They wanted more!”

Why it’s worth bottling up as many memories as possible: This time is packed with relationship-enhancing behaviors that happen naturally right now. Later, you may have to remember to treat your partner this well. Reminders from this period of your love can reignite romance, passion, and closeness. They can also inspire you to perform more of these relationship-building acts, Dr. Love says, such as affectionate touching, flirting, laughing, playing, supporting and appreciating each other, feeling positive about your future together, and giving each other the benefit of the doubt.

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