Right now a close friend of mine is on her honeymoon. Last weekend on her wedding day, she and her husband were absolutely radiant with joy, love, and excitement. The look on their faces was not so much hope in the classic sense – praying and wishing – as it was certainty. These two were created exclusively for the purpose of finding and loving one another. Currently they are posting pictures from a sunset cruise in Hawaii, a flower in her hair and a twinkle in his eye. Sarah and Ben are truly, deeply, and joyfully in love.
This brought me back to my own honeymoon, a blissful and carefree time. My stomach was filled with local grilled fish and the air was thick with the smell of flowers and the ocean breeze. I would love to go back to that place in time. The honeymoon phase of a marriage is a thing so powerful and magical that it can inspire insanity. Three years later we are certainly still in love, arguably even more so than we were back then. Things are different though. The spark is still there, but it takes much more work than it used to to fan the flames.
Too many couples wait until there is a crisis to rekindle their marriage. I, however, am a huge fan of ongoing marriage maintenance. Much like a car, investing in regular check-ups can keep the whole thing from falling apart in a traumatic and expensive way. When things are going smoothly, and our connection is properly cared for, all it takes is a warm smile or a long kiss for us to make up after an argument. When a relationship is neglected, the solution becomes much more drastic and complex. Although Sarah and Ben will soon return to their jobs and home, I am confident that they will strive to bring back this intoxicating honeymoon sensation from time to time.
Here are four ways to reconnect with your own partner and reclaim that honeymoon-love feeling:
Do something new together.
Luckily, Sarah and Ben are prime candidates for this one. They are an adventurous couple who collected date night ideas on popsicle sticks at their wedding reception. They plan to put these in a jar and select one when they are feeling daring. Clearly, these two already have an eye towards marriage maintenance. Engaging in a novel experience together – especially a physical one – can inject your union with a much-needed dose of excitement. Studies have shown that activities which produce adrenaline – such as riding a roller coaster or rafting down a river – can also promote attraction and arousal. This is a perfect way to escape from a rut (we all fall into them from time to time) and see your partner with new eyes.
In the rush of everyday life, it can be easy to snap at your partner with sarcasm or a harsh tone. Your frustration with a certain situation may come across as anger with your partner and create an unintended and unnecessary conflict. This is especially true for new parents and couples who work long hours. Stress and sleep deprivation can transform us into much less pleasant versions of ourselves. Most of us would be surprised at how we look and sound during these moments. Often, we treat our significant other with less kindness and consideration than we would a stranger. Spend one week being conscious of your non-verbal communication with your partner. Concentrate on a loving tone of voice and body language, and see how it changes your daily communication.
Kind touches, researchers say — such as an arm around your partner’s shoulders or a high-five — can communicate an even wider range of emotion than facial expressions. They can also do the job more quickly and accurately than words. Couples who touch often reported more satisfaction with their relationship, and were less stressed when it came to solving problems – the everyday kind that take their toll on most marriages. “We think that humans build relationships precisely for this reason, to distribute problem solving across brains,” said James A. Coan, a a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.” A touch of the hand says more than “I like you.” It also says “I’m in your corner, I’ve got your back, and I’m here to help you carry this load.”
Go on a “first date.”
Ask your spouse first date questions, and get to know him a little bit better. You’ll be surprised at the things you discover. These questions are a good place to start, as they have been scientifically proven to deepen your sense of intimacy. This concept doesn’t end with the conversation, though. Dress up and put on perfume as if you’re trying to make a good first impression. Break out your best lingerie for confidence. If the date goes really well, you can make out in the car like teenagers. How many married couples do that on the regular?
“It’s almost never too late to start the process of falling in love all over again,” says James Córdova, Ph.D., chair of Clark University’s psychology department and head of Clark’s Center for Couples & Family Research. “One of the things that happens in long-term marriages is that the demands of everyday life steal our attention away from our partners — and paying attention to the other is crucial for happy relationships.” Don’t let the demands of everyday life steal the joy from your relationship. Bring back the magic. Smile like Sarah and Ben on their honeymoon, connected and carefree, with a lifetime of love awaiting them.