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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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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

So how to do meditation?

The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

  • Living things, such as plants
  • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
  • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
  • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
  • Furniture away from walls
  • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
  • Incense or something else that smells good
  • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
  3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
  4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
  5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
[2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
[3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
[4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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