Encourage your partner to pursue a passion
iStock/furtseffResearch suggests we're most attracted to our partner when they are in their own element—in other words, when they're feeling confident and in the flow. That may be when he's playing his trumpet or coding a new program, or when she's dancing to flamenco music or painting pictures of historical landscapes. Whatever your individual passions may be, focus on supporting each other to pursue them. "Find where your partner excels and start looking at them fresh through that lens, as if you were strangers, meeting for the first time," suggests sexual health consultant Celeste Holbrook, PhD. That's just one of the marriage tips from couples who've been together over 50 years.
Purposely spend some time apart
iStock/leopatriziThis may sound a little counterintuitive, but not spending every waking second glued to each other's side is the best thing you can do to create a longing for each other. "This is especially important for couples who spend too much time together," says Dawn Michael, PhD, clinical sexologist, relationship expert, and author of My Husband Won't Have Sex With Me. "In relationships where one spouse travels for work every now and then, it's easier because the nature of your schedules provides some distance to the relationship—the couple longs to see each and develops an appreciation for that person." If you have similar work schedules and find that you're always together, go out of your way to see a friend twice a month or plan a short trip with a group of friends to avoid losing that longing of wanting to see each other again.
Show appreciation for your partner at least once every day
iStock/geber86When you first started dating, remember how much you appreciated the little things your partner did for you and you did for him? Continue to do this in your relationship as it grows over the years. "At the beginning you're giddy with love and gratitude, and you're grateful for your lover and all the little things you do together, the things they say and the places you go together," says Claudia Six, PhD, sexologist, relationship coach, and author of Erotic Integrity: How to Be True to Yourself Sexually. "Reconnect with that gratitude instead of taking your relationship for granted." Start the day by telling each other what you're grateful for, complimenting one another regularly, saying "I love you," and comment on a new dress or a new haircut. If you want to take the romance up a few notches, start leaving love notes in unexpected places—by the coffee machine, in his underwear drawer, by the door so he sees it as he's leaving, or on the garbage can for whoever takes out the trash. Check out the amazing ways these people said "I love you."
Try to do your partner's job
iStock/monkeybusinessimagesYou might never think about what goes into shlepping the recycling to the curb, cleaning the litter box, or paying the bills—because it's something your partner always takes care of. But if you take over the task even one time, you'll get a fresh appreciation for your partner's efforts. Don't be afraid to take it outside the realm of housework too. Take on the spreadsheets from your CPA wife or help out your husband in his fourth grade classroom. "You will personally experience your partner's everyday life, which can help you appreciate the little nuances that you don't often get to see, creating a new version of them for you to be attracted and drawn to," explains Dr. Holbrook.
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Initiate sex more often
iStock/peopleimagesIn the "honeymoon" stage, sex seemed to happen spontaneously, but in reality you both planned for it. For example, when you were dating, and you knew you would be going to his house on Thursday for game night, you probably shaved your legs in anticipation. And that anticipation was what made things so exciting! "Recreate those feelings by scheduling sex and then building anticipation through flirty communication right up until you hit the sheets," says Dr. Holbrook. "You'll be surprised by how getting your mind in the mood long beforehand will boost your libido and take you right back to that 'honeymoon' feeling." These libido boosters can help you have better sex.
Plan fun, spontaneous date nights
iStock/sneksyWhen love is new, date nights are special. But with limited time, kids, the stress of running a household and doing your job, date nights can represent a huge logistical 'should.' "But it really is important to remember how dates used to be, when you'd dress up for them, look your beloved in the eye, be interested in what they say, and allow them to put a twinkle back in your eye," says Dr. Six. "Remember what made you fall in love with him and treat the date as a special time." Go to a concert in the park and bring a picnic basket with wine if that's allowed. Outdoor concerts are often free and can be a great way to have a nice evening together and just enjoy each other's company. Or go out to a nice place for dinner and split an appetizer—order a bottle of wine and make the meal last. "Do this as often as your budget allows, but at least once a month if you can save up for it," recommends Dr. Michael. Here are more fun date-night ideas.
Use the power of touch to your advantage
iStock/jacoblundTouching is small way to reconnect and make contact every day. Even just holding hands releases the love hormone oxytocin, which can strengthen empathy and communication between a couple. "Make sure to hold hands, not only when walking down the street, but at home, in the morning when you first wake up, and at the end of the day before going to sleep," says Dr. Six. "You don't have to talk. You can just feel the warmth of your lover's hand in yours and rest in the comfort of it, enjoying the familiarity of your beloved's skin and energy."
Surprise each other with gifts for no reason
iStock/mirelabellaA single rose, a new pair of socks, or any small gift just because this person is the love of your life is a simple and heartwarming way to stay connected and keep the spark alive. "When your love was new, you did sweet things like this for each other, but then (like most people) you slacked off, got busy and the novelty wore off," explains Dr. Six. "Reignite the pleasure of seeing the delight in your partner's eyes as they find their little gifts and receive their appreciation and gratitude for the small things you do, just like at the beginning, when you were wooing each other." Here's how to buy gifts that are truly meaningful, according to science.
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Check in on a regular basis
iStock/peopleimagesThink of it as a state-of-the-union conversation between the two of you about your relationship. It can be as simple as 15 minutes on the couch where you talk about what made you happy, what moved you. "The mundane tasks of daily living can dull the sparkle in a relationship, but if you make an effort to be genuinely interested in your spouse's state of mind and how they're feeling about things in their life and in the relationship, it'll have you both feeling closer to each other," says Dr. Six. In bed at night or over dinner, ask each other what your favorite part of the day was and why. You might be surprised to learn what is most meaningful to your mate and you may even chuckle at each other's answers as you reminisce about the day's events. This way you're constantly discovering something new about your partner and sharing in their joy, the way you did in the beginning of your relationship.
Recreate your wedding night
iStock/wundervisualsRemember how you felt on your wedding night and recreate that feeling in your lovemaking—that happy, open-hearted bliss. "There's nothing like wedding night lovemaking, so try and bring it back by conjuring the expanded feeling you had, the immeasurable joy of being received by your spouse and fully receiving them in turn," says Dr. Six. No flannel that night—better yet, wear what you wore on your wedding night. You know you have that outfit tucked away somewhere, so go ahead and wear it again (if it still fits). You'll be amazed at how moving it can be as the memories resurface from that day.
Book a vacation (or staycation)
iStock/pixdeluxeCreate a responsibility-free zone by getting away from your house and your normal life, even for just a few days or overnight. Even an inexpensive hotel or Airbnb in your hometown can be enough to relieve your brain of all the concerns of home. "Responsibility is the biggest killer of arousal, so if you can physically remove yourself from those reminders, you can have a care-free honeymoon feeling even decades into your relationship," says Dr. Holbrook. Doing something out of the ordinary together can bring out many of those new feelings of desire. While you're at it, agree to unplug electronic devices to help recreate the timelessness and lack of obligations of a honeymoon. Use these romantic weekend ideas to plan the getaway that will hit the refresh button on your relationship.