The turning of a year seems to beg us to reevaluate, revitalize, and recommit. We resolve to do better and to be better in almost every area of our lives. The only problem is that when it comes to breathing new life into an old relationship, most of us are not sure how to do it.
But we used to know how! Try reinstating some behaviors that came naturally at the beginning of the relationship.
Be curious. Getting to know someone and sharing ourselves is an intoxicating experience. When we first meet, we evoke a childlike curiosity about the other, wanting to know all about them—their beliefs, dreams, and passions. The problem is that we tend to think these things are static. So, once we ask, we do not often ask again. However, we are all constantly changing, with new ideas, thoughts, and experiences, and most of us like to share them.
It’s my theory that this is why, in part, the “grass looks greener” with someone else. When we meet someone new (whether in person or online), they show interest in our thoughts and feelings, while our loved one may feel they already know everything about us.
I once saw a statistic that said families spend only 12 to 14 minutes a day in dialogue and 8 to 12 of those minutes are spent on task-oriented discussion. That leaves only 2 to 6 minutes a day for things like values, feelings, dreams, visions, spirituality, and relationship bonding.
You can rekindle the connection with a little mindful inquiry. Ask about the other person's bucket list. Ask about any changes in their favorites. Ask for opinions. Remember to explore without judgment. You are seeking to learn what is new with your partner, not what is wrong with them.
Be present. Put the phone away. Just as you have “office hours” when you can’t be interrupted, so you should give your love life undivided attention daily ... even if only for a short period of time. Listen. Share. Laugh. Breathe. Notice.
Touch. Remember when you first met and you couldn’t keep your hands off each other? I am not talking about sex, necessarily (although that can certainly help!). I’m talking about nurturing, loving touch. Hold hands, hug, pause to rub the other’s shoulders, play footsie under the table, run your fingers through your loved one's hair, kiss regularly, reach out to caress without an agenda, and gaze into each other’s eyes, touching each other’s souls.
If your sexual encounters have gotten few and far between, prioritize some time together. Neither of you signed up for a roommate. You signed up for a sweetheart. Even if there are physical reasons you can’t be as intimate as you once were, you can certainly find a way to share some sort of private, intimate loving time together. This is what sets your “love life” apart from your “life.”
Do something unexpected. One dictionary defines romance as “a tendency of mind toward the wonderful and mysterious, something belonging rather to fiction than to everyday life.” Occasionally break the patterns of daily life. Go outside and look at the stars, read a book together instead of watching TV, enjoy a surprise date, have a picnic in the backyard. Think outside the “normal” box.
Be the initiator—of a hug, a kiss, a date, a walk, or an evening spent gazing at the full moon, singing, dancing, or talking about something fun. It isn’t important who starts it—just be sure you aren’t the one who stops it!