By: Cristina Trette, MA, LMFT
Couples that have been together for multiple years (or decades) find they need to work at keeping their love alive. Many couples end up more like roommates than lover or feel something is missing from their relationship. If you can relate to this, keep reading.
Find small ways to connect daily
Smile, tell stories, laugh. Send sweet texts when apart. We all do better in life when we give and receive small doses of connection throughout our days. We don't need to experience big grand gestures of romance. Let your partner know delight in them in all sorts of small ways.
Moments of physical affection go a long way. Hugs, kisses on the cheek, and smiles are easy ways to connect. Swap shoulder rubs while watching a family movie, hold hands while taking a walk, sneak into the bedroom during your baby's nap time. Remember work and housework will always be there. But if you don't take care of your marriage, it won't be. Make it happen.
And give each other space
Be explicit about your need for quiet or alone time. Get clear about what you want and articulate this to your partner. Respect one another's desire for separateness.
Compliment and acknowledge
Express gratitude. Basking in appreciation fills us up, keeps us going, and feeds our souls. It only takes seconds to genuinely share with your partner what you love about them. Make this a regular occurrence.
Lean on healthy coping strategies
Exercise, journal, read inspiring books, reach out to uplifting friends and family, breath, do yoga, meditate, and practice mindfulness. These are all effective methods for reducing stress, tending to yourself, and improving your relationship.
Feel your feelings
We will all experience emotions that come and go throughout the day. Sometimes they are subtle, other times intense. Feel them. This includes anger, sadness, hurt, and fear. When we consistently create space for our feelings, we begin to notice over time that they carry immense wisdom. When we get used to feeling our feelings, we no longer need to avoid, ignore, numb, suppress, distract, or run away from.
Let the small things go
Choose your battles. Seriously. It could be easy to get on top of your spouse for every small thing. Don't do this! We all have annoying traits and characteristics. Develop tolerance wherever you can.
Accept acceptable differences
Maybe you are an early to bed and early to rise kind of person, but your spouse is most creative and energetic at night. Or you want lots of time to talk and your spouse prefers peace and quiet. Neither of these are good, bad, right, or wrong. Practice acceptance.
Develop healthy communication
Healthy communication patterns create the foundation for healthy marriages. If most of your interactions are laden with blame, judgement, criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or shutting down I highly encourage you to consider couple therapy.
Have some fun
Joy is so important for our wellbeing. Find ways to connect through dates, dancing, humor, sex, being goofy, board games, or declaring a very early happy hour. There are so many ways to break out of the routine and enjoy each other again.
What do you do to keep your love alive long term? Tell us about it in the comment box below.
Hello. I am Cristina Trette. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I help others create thriving relationships, joyful families, and vibrant wellbeing.