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How I Keep the Spark Alive in My 10 Years of Marriage

How I Keep the Spark Alive in My 10 Years of Marriage

Have you been having a difficult time connecting with your partner? Whether you’ve been together for decades or just a few months, it’s important to always take steps to keep the spark alive.

We’ve all heard of the seven-year itch, but getting past this point doesn’t make a long-term relationship any easier. The truth is that marriage is something you have to work on daily. Without a conscious effort on your part, it will be much easier than you might expect for your relationship to go from hot and heavy to complacent and even resentful.

In more than 10 years of marriage, I’ve discovered that nothing kills the romance faster than falling into a boring routine, especially if this doesn’t include prioritizing each other. If you take only one thing out of this article, let it be this:

We prioritize each other.

This is the secret to my marriage’s longevity, and it’s something that everyone can do. In fact, placing a greater emphasis on making my husband a priority by giving him my undivided attention is one of the quickest ways to stop us from bickering or beginning to drift apart. The best part is that when I prioritize him, he prioritizes me in return.

Of course, there’s a lot more that I do to help keep the spark alive. Prioritizing my spouse also means looking for opportunities to connect with each other mentally, emotionally and physically.

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Fortunately, there are many easy ways to turn a boring day into an exciting evening. If you and your partner haven’t been connecting properly and have started talking about going to couples counseling, consider trying the following tips first.

We always explore somewhere new together to explore the way to spark.

Whether you head off on a long vacation or simply take a day to explore a new park together, there is extensive evidence that visiting new places will be good for your relationship. In fact, studies have found that couples that make an effort to go somewhere new experience many positive benefits, [1] including:

  • Increased playfulness
  • Less stress
  • Improved sense of connection
  • Emotional nurturing
  • Personal and relationship growth

We make a romantic meal at home to save our marriage (and money!)

Couples tend to romanticize going out to eat together, but this can be noisy and expensive. Instead, start the spark in your own kitchen by cooking a romantic meal. It’s nice if one of you cooks for the other, but in my experience, it’s even better if you share the cooking duties. This puts the two of you together in a creative space, which can easily lead to touching and kissing.

If you’re concerned that cooking takes too much time, don’t worry: most people spend 34 minutes or less per day on food prep. [2] Consider this time to be like the foreplay of your mealtime, and the evening is virtually certain to go in a fun direction.

We express gratitude daily to wipe off negativity.

If you’re anything like me, you dated quite a few frogs before you found your Prince (or Princess) Charming. One of the biggest issues that leads to couples counseling and ultimately tears relationships apart is being negative with each other instead of focusing on the positive.

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Take time at least once a day to tell your spouse something you’re grateful for about them. It doesn’t have to be something huge; it can be as simple as saying, “I’m grateful that you are kind to strangers.” This will have big mental health benefits for both of you:

  • Reduced depression
  • More positive thought patterns
  • Overall better well-being

In turn, this will make your relationship happier, less stressed and more conducive to romance.

We just say that we find each other attractive.

Do you still tell your spouse that you find them to be attractive? This is something that many couples stop doing over time, even if they still feel the same level of attraction.

The problem is that people need to hear positive feedback on a regular basis. Therefore, if my husband were to go an extended period of time without indicating that he’s attracted to me, I could naturally start to feel unattractive.

Help your spouse’s self-esteem and rekindle the romance by doing things such as giving them a genuine compliment daily and letting them know when they look nice in a new outfit. Another great spark starter is hitting on them with the looks and words you used to express interest when the relationship was new.

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We schedule a weekly date to spend quality time together.

Do you carve out at least a few hours weekly to be alone together? Kids, work and other obligations may seem more important at times, but they’re not. This is because numerous studies have found that couples that don’t make alone time a priority are much more likely to end in divorce. [3]

A date doesn’t have to be a big, expensive night out. What it should do is get the two of you outside of your home and away from kids, jobs and any other responsibilities. You could go for a walk in the woods, dine at your favorite restaurant or attend a concert together. Just be sure to make some time to talk during the date. Making this a priority will help the two of you in several ways:

  • Improved sense of commitment
  • Rekindled passion
  • Romance booster
  • Better communication

We hug every day and are physically affectionate.

I’m not a big fan of public displays of affection, so I can understand if you don’t spend your date night constantly touching each other and making out. However, it’s very important for casual physical affection to be one of the cornerstones of your daily life. This helps keep intimacy alive, and allows the two of you to check in on each other non-verbally.

Hugs are especially powerful, and researchers say sharing a 20-second hug at least once a day will greatly help both of you. In fact, hugs may even be the key to improving cardiovascular health! [4] Aside from reducing your blood pressure, a 20-second hug will help the two of you bond and strengthen your relationship: [5]

  • Hugging relieves stress and anxiety
  • Improves feelings of trust
  • Generates more compassion

It’s definitely easier to be romantic when you’re not stressed out and are with a partner you trust. Try giving your spouse a 20-second hug before and after work each day to see how it keeps the spark alive!

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We schedule intimate time and get closer.

It may feel odd at first to consider scheduling time to be intimate. Many experts have indicated, though, that it can actually not only spice things up but also save your marriage. [6] After all, most of us live hectic lives. I certainly do, and it’s common for me to work seven days in a row. This makes it hard to wait for sex to just spontaneously happen.

Scheduling intimate time instead allows you to prioritize being together physically. This is just as important as going on a weekly date. As an added bonus, the two of you will have something to look forward to. This anticipation can make everything much better, and it will encourage flirtatious behavior between encounters.

We do these simple things all the times and our marriage is drastically improved.

As you can see, all of the things on this list require you to prioritize each other. Without developing this one simple habit, it will be very difficult for any relationship to thrive and couples counseling may quickly become a necessity.

Fortunately, I’m living proof that making my spouse a priority by doing things such as having a weekly date night and expressing gratitude can keep the spark alive for more than 10 years. It’s never too late to make a change; spice up your relationship today!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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