Relationships add so much to our lives: security, acceptance, love. But what can we do when that sparkle starts to dull? This one action will keep it fresh.
New relationships—full of wonder, anticipation and excitement.
These are the things that the early stages of a relationship are made of. These are also the things that you will think about five years, one mortgage, and two kids down the road and wonder… “Where did those feelings go?“
I cannot tell you how many couples 5, 10 or 15 years into their marriage have sat in my office and said these words, “We want to get back where we were in those early years of our relationship.“
Something happens as you log time and routine in a relationship.
As humans, it is normal to gravitate toward finding a rhythm in life…it is why most people take the same route to work in the morning, follow a similar routine when at the grocery store (dry goods, produce, dairy, meat) and have favorite haunts for drinks with friends.
The familiar lulls you into a sense of security and safety.
Security and safety are the very things that you need in order to establish commitment in a relationship. This is the soil for the foundation of a life together where the seeds of financial stability, family, travel and expectation can be sown.
The familiar, however, often lives in contradiction to wonder, anticipation and excitement.
You stop asking her questions because you believe that you already know the answers…which in the beginning can feel delicious. You don‘t need to ask because you already know…this spells familiarity, comfort and security which begins the newly established routine and rhythm of your life, together.
Subtly (or not so subtly) this rhythm can turn, well… frankly, it can turn boring.
Many people desperately want to have the blood-rushing sensation of excitement—at least periodically—coursing through their committed relationship and attempt to secure this excitement by taking vacations, enjoying extravagant nights out or having children.
These can be effective methods of garnering a sense of excitement in your relationship, but there is another tactic more readily available and more affordable.
Curiosity is free; and it was likely free-flowing when you met your beloved. You wondered what her favorite meal was, how he took his coffee, what her family was like… how he was in bed. Everything is new and curiosity runs rampant in the first months (and sometimes years) of a relationship as you explore new vistas with one another. New discovery happens almost daily and you both delight and relish in the freshness of one another.
When you are one year or 20 years in to your relationship, ratchet up the curiosity in your partner by getting to know your partner on new levels. Here a a few ways to get started:
Try new activities together whether that be skydiving, salsa dancing or cooking and drink in how your partner responds, engages and takes on these new activities.
Ask questions like, “What is that like for you?” or “What does that remind you of?” to dig a bit deeper in daily conversations.
Expand your sexual repertoire with one another by engaging outside of your usual sexual program…and then talk about how that was for both of you.
Notice when you jump to judgment or criticism about your partner and practice softening in this moment and ask questions to understand how she moves through the world differently from you.
Be vulnerable and share more about yourself. This often ignites a willingness for more mutual sharing and vulnerability.
Relationships are not a covert mission! Be transparent about your curiosity and your desire for the relationship to stay fresh and alive and watch it grow.
[image: via Khánh Hmoong on flickr]