By Casey Caston of The Gottman Institute
When my wife Meygan and I got married 13 years ago, I honestly thought our love would never fade. There was so much passion in our relationship that we must have been on some kind of love high.
Remember how sweet and passionate things were when you were first dating? I'm sure those days included a lot of handholding, kissing, cuddling, date nights, surprises, gifts, and dreaming together.
Those were the days when you couldn't get enough of each other and wanted to spend every waking moment in their arms. I remember one night we talked until sunrise without even realizing it. We would try to top each other with our cheesy love notes and struggled to keep our hands off each other.
Fast forward past our wedding day, the honeymoon, and 13 years of marriage. There are kids, bills, piles of laundry, meetings at work, and a never-ending to-do list. We're exhausted. Maybe you can see yourself in our love story.
Has handholding been replaced with pointing fingers? Has conversation been replaced with silence? Has connection been replaced with loneliness? We like to geek out about marriage so here are some powerful yet simple ideas to renew that passionate love you had in the beginning.
But first, let me explain why this is important.
Dr. John Gottman, the nation's leading marriage researcher, suggests that couples hoping to spark romance need to turn towards each other even when they don't feel like it. Yes, even when you're exhausted or irritated. Friendship is absolutely essential to thriving marriages. In relationships that thrive, partners consistently make and receive bids for positive connection.
Here are 16 practical ways for you to start turning towards each other:
1. Schedule a next date night and keep the plans a surprise.
The anticipation will spark a renewed sense of fun.
2. Practice the daily 60-second blessing.
This is a daily habit of affirming the positive qualities you see in each other. (Watch a quick video where we explain what this looks like here.)
3. Send flirty texts to each other throughout the day.
Trust me, your partner will appreciate it.
4. Make foreplay a priority.
Make more room in your calendar to make out before sex.
5. Be affectionate and playful with each other in front of others.
It's not enough to just brag to each other in private, it's significant to compliment your spouse in public.
6. Start a new hobby together.
Brainstorm some ideas and create a list of shared interests.
7. Show appreciation by saying “Thank you” and “I appreciate all you do.”
This goes a long way in showing respect to each other.
8. Take a walk hand in hand.
Nothing gets the blood moving and the connection juices flowing like taking a walk around the block.
9. Focus on the positive qualities of each other by writing them down and posting it around the house.
10. Plan a vacation together — no kids allowed.
It doesn't even have to be extravagant, but time alone is so important.
11. Dream together.
This helps build security. Have you created a dream board where you jot down your goals or things you want to do together? Go for it!
12. Pay attention to your spouse more than you pay attention to your phone and TV.
Less screen time, more face time.
13. Reminisce about your favorite date nights, wedding day, honeymoon, and travels together by pulling out old photos.
14. Learn something new about your spouse.
Pick up a deck of Love Map cards which contain fun questions to ask each other. Stay thirsty... I mean, curious, my friends.
15. Buy a new board game and have a game night together.
16. Learn something new about your relationship.
Watch a monthly marriage webcast and sharpen that saw!
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