05 Feb Download: 10 Steps To Rekindling Your Love
While every loving couple has its ups and downs over the years, it’s surprisingly easy to reconnect – and not just in the bedroom.
Feel like your relationship has lost its spark? It’s more common than you might think. According to relationship therapist Brenda Rawlings, many couples experience a lull in romance from time to time. “Factors like stress, age and familiarity really do impact on desire,” she says. “Any long-term relationship is going to go through times where it doesn’t feel ideal.” But the best part is, by being open, honest and making small changes, you can bring back the romance, and even deepen your level of intimacy.
1. Communicate what bothers you
It’s a bit of a chestnut, but the key to a better relationship really is – yes – communication. “Many couples pretend they’re OK and don’t say what’s really going on behind the scenes,” Brenda says. “We need to learn how to talk to each other in a way that shows your partner how you’re feeling.” If something is bothering you, avoid using language that immediately sounds overly critical. “Instead of saying, ‘You always’ and You never’, instead try, ‘Yesterday, when this happened, my experience was this and When that happens I feel this’,” Brenda suggests.
2. Learn to self-soothe
On the flip side, when someone criticises us it’s instinct to automatically react and defend ourselves. But rather than going on the defensive, Brenda recommends learning to self-soothe.
“Start by taking a deep breath and thinking, This is my partner’s experience – this is about them and not about me,” Brenda says.
“Your job here is to listen with empathy and curiosity, and to find out what you can do differently that might help prevent your partner from feeling like this in the future.”
3. Just let things go
While it’s important to talk out deeper issues, occasionally it’s smart to take a step back. “Sometimes it’s important to let things go until the next day, when we’ve calmed down,” Brenda says.
“Talking about things when we’re heated doesn’t work because the part of our brain we use to think and reflect will have gone offline. Wait until you’re calm before addressing an issue again.”
4. Make time for them
Scheduling a date night might sound twee, but making time for one another is crucial to keeping the spark alive – or bringing it back. “In our lives, we get so busy with children, grandchildren, work, family and friends that we need to structure in times to talk about our relationship, to have fun, to have sex,” Brenda explains.
Try to think of light and easy things the two of you would enjoy doing together, like going for a walk or seeing a comedy film. And steer clear of overly fancy dinners, because it just puts too much pressure on a couple to act a certain way,” Brenda says.
5. Give each other space
While it’s crucial to schedule time together, it’s also wise to spend time apart. “Often we have ideas of what we want to do in life but they don’t always match up with our partner’s desires,” Brenda says. Rather than being discouraged by that, embrace the differences. “Having our partners go out and do different things from us is important because when we see them doing something they’re passionate about it can be really sexy to us,” she adds. It’ll also give you lots more to talk about when you do go for that walk together.
6. Shower your partner with compliments
While saying “I love you” is extremely important, telling someone how much you appreciate them can take your relationship to a deeper level.
“It’s a relationship essential,” Brenda says. “It can be specific and behavioural like, ‘I appreciated it on Tuesday night when we did this’, or it can be about a quality, such as, ‘Your loyalty means so much.” It mightn’t always come naturally to voice these feelings but you’re sure going to brighten someone’s day if you do.
7. Rediscover each other
When the last of the kids move out, many couples long to find a purpose again. “Rather than feeling lost, they see this period for what it is – a great opportunity to rediscover each other intimately, sexually and emotionally,” Brenda says.
Even if it’s just two hours free on a Saturday afternoon, lock the door, close the curtains and get reacquainted. “This is such an exciting time,” Brenda adds. “It’s a new stage of your lives where there’s so much possibility and potential.”
8. Have a relationship vision for the future
As our outlooks on life change with time, so do our relationship wants and needs. Rather than pretending things aren’t changing, embrace it and use this time with your partner to create a new relationship vision.
“It’s about sitting down with your significant other and saying, ‘In the next 10 years, what do we want our relationship to look like?’ so you can start moving towards it,” Brenda says. “Make a list of the things you want to do or see together and get going!”
9. Be honest and open in the bedroom
“The best way to get that spark back in the bedroom is by talking,” she says. “After all these years we think we know what our partner likes, so we go into autopilot – but what we should be doing is changing things up.”
Be open – tell your partner what you do and don’t like. “It doesn’t have to all happen at once,” she explains. “Focus on one type of touch or even just kissing at first. It’s all about saying, ‘I want to be intimate with you. I want to touch you’.”
10. Hug it out
A simple hug can speak volumes to your partner. “Being tactile just a little can mean a lot,” Brenda notes. “Hugs have a whole lot of chemical responses, like increasing serotonin and dopamine to make us feel good.”
Not a hugger? Just touching your partner’s shoulder when you pass them in the kitchen can be enough to remind them you care for them deeply. Brenda says, “Even after a long time together, we need that reassurance that we’re still valued and wanted.”