It’s easy to get stuck in a relationship rut.
What was once all weekends away, spontaneous sex and staying up all night dancing, drinking or talking about nothing can somehow transform into a relationship of routine.
You may still love each other as much as you ever have done, but the spark and excitement in a relationship can fizzle out over time.
There are things you can do to fuel that spark though and get it burning bright again. Just because the fireworks have burned out doesn’t mean they can’t be re-lit.
According to dating expert Madeleine Mason, keeping the flame alive requires two things: relationship maintenance and relationship development.
Maintenance means the boring things you have to do, such as doing the shopping, but many people forget about the development aspect which is just as important.
“This is where the spark and fun comes into the picture,” Mason told The Independent. “You can begin to be creative with each other in terms of fostering a playful energy.”
Planning a holiday, redecorating the home together, organising a spontaneous date, introducing role-play into the bed-room, celebrating anniversaries or creating mini rituals like Sunday binge-watching can all help with developing your relationship.
“The key is to do something that is out of the ordinary and that is not part of ‘the daily grind,’” Mason says. “Ironically, this requires effort, but as with anything, once one practises doing something, it becomes easier to do next time around and your spark will turn into a lasting flame.”
So what can you do? We asked the experts for their top tips for fuelling your relationship.
1. Never stop dating
For many of us, dating is what we do at the beginning of a relationship, but it’s worth carrying on.
“A date doesn’t mean you have to go out and get dolled up every single time; it can be something as simple as changing or creating an atmosphere,” dating expert Matthew Hussey told The Independent.
“If your typical date night is to stay in, order pizza and watch a movie, switch the pizza out for your partner’s favourite homemade dish and light some candles rather than using the table lamp.”
Relationship expert James Preece agrees, suggesting you save one evening a week to do something together. “It doesn’t need to be somewhere expensive - a walk in the woods or trip to the seaside will do,” he explains. “It’s an opportunity to hold hands, take time out and spend quality time with each other.”
2. Learn new skills as individuals
By continually developing skills in new areas, you show your partner they don’t have you all figured out yet. “Two things are needed for long term relationships to survive and thrive - love and desire,” says Hussey.
“Love is created through the investment you and your partner put into each other - the acts of care. Desire is created in the mystery between two people, something that is often lost when two people feel they know everything about each other.”
3. Give each other space
“The best gift you can give someone is the chance to miss you,” says Preece. “It’s only by spending time apart that you can think about how much you love your partner.”
When you spend time apart from your partner, you’ll realise life is better with them in it. There’s nothing worse than being on top of each other all the time as every little habit will start to annoy you. By spending time apart, you have more to talk about together too.
4. Try new things in the bedroom
“A lot of men love to take the lead sexually but don’t feel confident expressing their unspoken desires,” says Hussey.
He suggests that if you’re the person in the relationship who rarely instigates sex, make your partner feel safe by taking them to a sex shop, picking out something you like, and saying, “I’d love it if you’d use this on me.” That tells your partner it’s OK to share their fantasies.
5. Put your phone away
There’s often something that can come between even the strongest couples - your phone. “If you want your partner to feel they have you completely, you can't keep checking your phone in front of them,” says Preece.
“There’s a time a place but you need to communicate and be present - you can't do that if you would rather read your emails or catch up on the latest gossip.” Focussing on each other will help truly keep the passion alive.
6. Make time for each other - especially on special occasions
Present-buying can be tricky, but one of the best gifts you can give your partner is simply time.
“Make a mini day-trip to a place that neither of you have been before, or go learn something new together,” Hussey recommends. “Not only will you have spent quality time with your mate, you’ll also have just created a new point of connection and conversation.”
7. Appreciate what you have
At the end of the day, you must never stop letting your partner know how grateful you are to have them in your life - the easiest way is simply to tell them how much they mean to you. It sounds obvious but is all too easy to forget, Preece points out.
“Buy them a small gift or cook them a meal ‘just because.’ It’s the little gestures that will help you hold on to the happiness you have.”
And that way, your relationship will stay as fuelled up as when you first got together.
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