by Fran Giordani
It can be challenging for couples to maintain a romantic relationship once they are married and have children, and routines set it. You and your spouse may become wrapped up in the tasks and chores of your days, allowing that romantic spark that originally attracted you to each other to sputter. Even if you realize this, the pressures of your responsibilities may be depleting your energy and your desire to rekindle that spark.
Little things keep the spark alive
It’s comforting to remember that even when parenting children isn't part of the picture, marriages need constant work to retain the spark. Ariane Seifert, writing for Essortment.com, a Google website on information and advice, reminds us that when a relationship is new, it can be very exciting and exhilarating. However, as time goes by, you may find that doing those things that once seemed fun with the other person now just seem old or boring. You are going to need to work on finding creative ways to keep your marriage fresh, exciting and solid.
Nancy Wasson, Ph.D., co-author of Keep Your Marriage, says every marriage needs a healthy dose of ongoing romance to add spice, delight and fun to the relationship.
“The newness is going to wear off and routines are going to settle in,” says Wasson. “It’s not enough to just start out with a sizzling romance. You have to find a way to keep the romance alive as the months and years accumulate.” Wasson offers tips to help you sprinkle your marriage with romance:
Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, psychologist, author and radio show host, says that some believe romance and love should just come naturally, but nothing is further from the truth.
“There are specific steps you can take each day to easily reignite the closeness and romantic spark in your marriage,” says Shoshanna.
“Some believe that if the original closeness that existed in a relationship starts to subside, it means that something is wrong.” Not at all, she says. “Keeping love alive requires time, attention and the willingness to learn how to constantly reconnect.”
Shoshanna adds, “Give up dead routines and snap out of ruts. Make dedicated time to plan exciting, romantic moments together alone. Allow nothing to interrupt this special time. Make it sacred and it will make both of you feel fulfilled.”
Survey your romance
David Schnarch, Ph.D., is co-director of the Marriage & Family Health Center in Evergreen, Colorado, and author of several books, including Passionate Marriage.
“Both husband and wife often get tired of each other’s habits, and that develops into anger,” says Schnarch. “You may have thought that love means accepting you the way you are, but that’s no excuse to get sloppy once you’re married. You have to work toward developing your own self respect, and that in turn will make your mate respect you. This is what leads to better intimacy.”
Dr. Schnarch and Ruth Morehouse, a psychologist and sex therapist, developed a survey based on clinical experience and research on sex and marriage that can help you assess the sexual side of your relationship. Use it to scrutinize your love life and to decide if you want to change it.
Spice it up
“Losing your desire for intimacy is common in a long-term committed relationship,” says Corey Allan, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist and speaker. “Any time you seek to change things, including trying to break out of unhappy cycles, there is a great deal of unknown. It is this unknown that causes some people to resist the changes, even if those changes will bring about something more exciting.”
Allan offers these suggestions for adding spice to your marriage:
Do not view romance as an isolated event or a luxury. Romance springs from friendship and intimacy. Allow it to blossom and spread its fragrance in your day to day life as you mature in a relationship. Being together may add years to your life, but romance will add life to your years together.
Fran Giordani’s background includes 15 years of in-house editing and copywriting for national periodicals. Fran lives in Boston with her husband, Jay, a graphic artist, and their twin cats, Mutt and Jeff.