Some psychologists maintain that the feeling of intense romantic love only lasts about 18 months to at most three years, however, I'm sure many of us know at least one couple where the sparks still seem to fly decades later. In fact a few years ago after arriving in JFK, I remember sharing a shuttle ride into the city with a lovely couple who had been married for 60 years. When I asked the elderly gentleman how long they had been married for he replied, "Not long enough." His response warmed my heart.
So how do some people manage to keep the passion, romance and love alive in their relationship, while others don't? I'm sure it's easy for couples to fall into a less than fantasy-filled relationship rut after years or even months of being together. I have been guilty of falling into this trap at times in my relationships. Lounging around the house in an oversized T-shirt -- which can be less than sexy unless, of course, you're Eva Mendes -- not taking initiative in the bedroom and working late when I should be snuggling up in bed instead.
What can we do to overcome the lulls in our love life and keep the erotic spark going?
Here's what five experts suggest.
Maintain the desire.
Psychotherapist Esther Perel says in a TED Talk that there are a few things that erotic couples do to maintain the erotic spark or desire in their relationship. Some of the things include giving each other a lot of sexual privacy. Meaning they understand that there is an erotic space that belongs to each of them. Another is that they understand that foreplay isn't something that you do five minutes before the real thing; instead, it basically starts the moment you finish with the previous orgasm. Also, they create a space for intimacy outside of the responsibilities of everyday life -- like not bringing work to bed. Perel says that responsibility and desire just but heads.
Sustain the "positive illusions".
In a survey of 470 studies on compatibility, psychologist Marcel Zentner, PhD. of the University of Geneva found only one combination of personality traits that lead to sustained romance -- the ability to sustain your "positive illusions." He said that men and women who continued to believe that that their partner is attractive, funny, kind and generally still thought their partner was their ideal mate also continued to be content in their relationship.
Demystify the idea of spontaneity.
Ms. Perel says that couples who maintain the desire in their relationship understand how to demystify the idea of spontaneity, saying that committed sex is premeditated, willful and intentional. Sex and relationship expert Dr. Laura Berman says that one way you can create a little spontaneity in your sex life might be to schedule sex dates. Although it may not sound spontaneous, you can use it as a tool for creating the spontaneity in your love life. For example, if you have a sex date scheduled, you could send flirty messages throughout the day to your significant other before the actual date.
Remember your story.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Barbara Markway says that when a relationship goes stale, one approach she has found helpful -- even with couples on the brink of a divorce -- is to talk about the beginning of the relationship. She says that by remembering our own love story, it helps to remind us about the attraction we felt for each other in the first place. This also helps us to recall that the bond we created within our relationship didn't magically happen one day, but was built over time.
Make it mentally stimulating.
Sex and relationship expert Dr. Ian Kerner says that "sex happens not just in the body, but also in the mind." So before we get to the part where we're stripping off articles of clothing, enjoy the kissing and teasing without the pressure of sex. He says that not having intercourse can make the experience more creative and fun. Also by using the power of anticipation, it helps to make the sex that much more enjoyable when we finally get to it.