By Wendy Gould
Ah, the age-old question of how to keep the spark, love, and intimacy alive in a relationship.
I’m by no means a credentialed relationship expert, but I can tell you that in my four years of being with my partner, we’ve done a pretty good job at maintaining that love momentum.
Sure, there are times when we simply enjoy the quiet familiarity of each other and even times when we quarrel or get frustrated with each other, but we also make a serious effort to keep the fire we have for each other burning.
While four years isn’t very long in the grand scheme of the life we plan on sharing together, it is long enough to leave the honeymoon phase and enter real life together.
And so far, that real life has been pretty amazing.
Here are 10 amazing pieces of relationship advice for keeping the love alive:
1. We make sure to show appreciation for each other.
The other night, after a long day of work followed by an hour at the gym, my boyfriend told me he was going to make dinner for us while I showered and blow-dried my hair.
He showed appreciation for me by making dinner when he knew I was tired.
This, of course, is just one small way we show appreciation for each other that makes a big impact.
Sometimes appreciation happens quickly and in passing.
Maybe it’s thanking each other for taking care of a household chore, dropping the other person off at the airport, or picking up their coffee order.
And sometimes, it’s just as simple as saying “You’re awesome” via text message.
2. We try new things together.
Stepping outside of our comfort zones together is one of the quickest ways to foster those feel-good love vibes.
Sure, it requires a lot of mental stimulation and it can be super nerve-wracking, but tackling new things as a pair is one of the best ways we maintain that spark.
For example, we recently decided to try skiing for the first time ever and let’s just say there were lots of laughs and tears.
But trying new things doesn’t always have to be quite as intense.
For example, sampling new cuisine together, trying a challenging recipe, or walking through a new exhibit at the local museum are all good options.
3. We foster our physical connection.
The way a couple nurtures their physical intimacy is very personal and varied — but still extremely important no matter your style.
Being physical with each other — and that includes holding hands, kissing, cuddling, and great big hugs — is one of the primary things that sets a romantic relationship apart from other types of relationships, and it truly helps keep that spark alive.
We make a concerted effort to foster the physical aspect of our relationship, and those pre-bedtime cuddle sessions are a must!
4. We have a recurring date night.
Every first week of the new month, we have what we call “New Budget Month Dinner.”
It’s a standing date that involves zero guilt for spending a chunk of change on a nice dinner out together.
Not only is it good for our budget to be deliberate when spending money on dining, but it gives us something consistent to look forward to and an opportunity to try new restaurants.
The specialness of these dinners also means we really focus on each other.
It’s considered sacred time — phones are put away and conversation is purposeful and fulfilling.
5. We spend time apart.
I’m currently in the midst of planning a two-week solo vacation for myself to visit a friend in Switzerland, and my partner is planning a similar solo vacation for himself with his good friend.
These solo adventures are something we’ve each had in our relationship from the very beginning, and they’ve proven essential to our personal happiness and romantic connection.
I admit that spending that much time apart may be extreme for some couples, but we both thrive in having personal experiences and, as a result, our relationship does, too.
Spending time apart might also mean taking an evening or a whole Saturday to do our own thing, having dinner with friends, or pouring our time into a personal hobby.
While we love hanging out, that alone time gives us the chance to miss each other.
It provides us with experiences to talk about, and knowing the other has a strong sense of self is super attractive.
6. We support each other’s hobbies and interests.
Sometimes existing hobbies and passions don’t overlap, but there’s still room here to strengthen your bond.
For example, I’m a singer who’s involved with the local symphony chorus and occasionally sings professionally.
My biggest cheerleader is my boyfriend, who shows up to important concerts and gigs.
Before we met, he didn’t know much about classical music, but now when the symphony lists its new season, he’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the upcoming performances.
Conversely, while I’m not very outdoorsy, he thrives in rugged, natural settings.
I’m terrible at kayaking, but of course, I joined him on a kayak adventure when he asked.
And of course, I’ll go camping with him even though I’m really attached to my flat iron and modern plumbing.
I really appreciate that he brought more of these outdoorsy experiences into my world — whether it’s spending a Saturday morning hiking or roughing it overnight in the wilderness.
7. We make time for each other.
Even when we’re exceptionally busy with work and life, we still take the time to check in and be present with each other.
Whether it’s a sit-down dinner together before running through our to-do lists or making sure to talk for a little bit on the phone when either of us is traveling, those little moments have a big impact.
Then, when things have settled down, spending time together is a top priority.
8. We indulge spontaneity.
There’s something beautiful about consistency and lazy days, but a little spontaneity can stoke the love fire.
It can be as grand as a weekend road trip to somewhere stunning, or as simple as an impromptu trip to grab an ice cream cone before strolling through the park.
Those things help keep our relationship exciting.
9. We surprise each other.
This goes hand-in-hand with indulging spontaneity.
The other day, after a little squabble, I walked into the kitchen to see a tiny bouquet of yellow daffodils and my favorite candy (gummy bears).
It was a sweet gesture, and it reminded me how much my boyfriend loves and cares about me.
I’ll often tuck love notes in his travel bag or wallet or pick him up a cup of coffee when I’m out and about.
These little things keep us on our toes and, though small, foster deep love.
10. We keep getting to know each other.
When we first began dating, we answered those popular “36 Questions to Fall in Love” questions, and, well, we might not have told each other “I love you” at the end, but we did become very close as a result.
That deep curiosity about each other has continued.
In everyday conversations, we’re both eager to gain the other’s perspective, we’ll pose interesting “what if” and “on a scale of one to 10” scenarios, and we’ve even purchased books that prompt question-asking.
Wendy Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter and branded content writer. She has been featured in Business Insider, Brides, Real Simple, Cosmopolitan, and more.
This article was originally published at PopSugar. Reprinted with permission from the author.
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