I often get asked how to keep the flames of romance burning after you’ve been married a long time. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. How do you keep those flames burning and not get stuck in a roommate situation. I have 10 areas with specific examples in each of the ways that you can keep that romance alive and rejuvenated. Remember, love is a journey, not a destination. Stay committed, stay passionate, and stay connected.
Today, we’re diving deep into a topic that’s close to many of our hearts – how couples who’ve been married for a long time can keep the flames of romance burning brightly.
Keeping romance alive in long-term relationships is crucial for sustaining emotional intimacy, deepening the connection between partners, and ensuring that the relationship continues to flourish over time. Romance acts as a powerful adhesive that binds couples together through the highs and lows of life, fostering a sense of closeness that transcends the day-to-day routines. When romance is nurtured, it serves as a reminder of the initial attraction that brought two individuals together, reinforcing the foundation of love and commitment that the relationship is built upon.
Romance is a means of expressing love and appreciation beyond words. It communicates to your partner that they still hold a special place in your heart, even after years of togetherness. Regular romantic gestures, whether they’re small surprises or grand gestures, send the message that you value and cherish your partner’s presence in your life. These gestures create a reservoir of positive emotions that help buffer the relationship against the challenges that inevitably arise.
On the other hand, neglecting to keep romance alive in a long-term relationship can lead to emotional distance, misunderstandings, and a gradual erosion of the emotional bond. Without the consistent infusion of romance, partners might start feeling taken for granted, leading to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction. A lack of romance can lead to partners feeling emotionally disconnected, as the absence of special moments and shared experiences can weaken the emotional ties that bind them. Over time, this emotional disconnection can pave the way for communication breakdowns, reduced intimacy, and even the potential for seeking emotional fulfillment outside the relationship.
In essence, keeping romance alive is like tending to a delicate garden – it requires consistent care, attention, and effort. A relationship that lacks romance might still function in practical terms, but it risks becoming a mere coexistence rather than a vibrant partnership. By prioritizing romance, couples breathe life into their relationship, fostering an environment of love, appreciation, and mutual understanding that can withstand the test of time.
But before we talk about how to keep that romance alive, let’s talk about why romance often dies, or at least dims over time. This can often be attributed to a variety of factors that naturally emerge as the relationship progresses. One contributing factor is the phenomenon known as “relationship complacency.” When couples settle into the comfort of routine and familiarity, the need to actively nurture the romantic aspects of the relationship can take a back seat. Over time, partners may become preoccupied with the demands of daily life, such as careers, family responsibilities, and personal pursuits, inadvertently diverting their attention from the relationship’s emotional and romantic dimensions.
Another factor is the passage of time itself. As the years go by, the excitement of discovery and the novelty of each other’s presence tend to wane. The thrill of unpredictability that characterizes new relationships gradually gives way to a sense of predictability, which, while comforting, can lead to a lack of novelty and spontaneity that are integral to keeping the romance alive. Additionally, external stressors like financial pressures, parenting responsibilities, and other life challenges can consume the couple’s time and energy, making it difficult to prioritize the maintenance of the romantic connection.
Moreover, a phenomenon known as “emotional fading” can contribute to the decline of romance. As couples become more familiar with each other’s emotional landscapes, the intensity of their emotional responses may decrease. Gestures and expressions that once held powerful meaning may lose their impact over time. This doesn’t mean that the love is fading, but rather that the emotional charge that characterized the early stages of the relationship tends to mellow.
It’s important to recognize that these challenges are a natural part of any long-term relationship journey. While the initial stages are often marked by passionate intensity, the transition to a more mature and enduring form of love is a beautiful evolution. Addressing the waning of romance requires awareness, effort, and a commitment to nurturing the emotional and romantic aspects of the partnership. By understanding the factors at play and actively taking steps to rekindle the spark, couples can revitalize the romance and create a relationship that continues to grow and flourish.
“Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.”
― Dr. John Gottman
So now that we’ve discussed what often happens with romance and why it’s important to keep that flame burning, I’ve got 10 areas, with specific examples in each of ways that you can keep that romance alive and rejuvenated.
#1: Rediscovering Each Other
“Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s worlds.”
– Dr. John Gottman
After years together, it’s easy to assume you know everything about your partner, but people evolve. It’s important to take time to ask open-ended questions about each other’s dreams, goals, and passions. See how they’ve changed over the years. Show genuine interest and listen attentively. This not only strengthens your emotional connection but also helps you grow together.
Here are a few ideas to help you in rediscovering each other:
- Plan a “get to know you again” night where you ask each other questions about your dreams, fears, and aspirations.
- Create a joint bucket list of things you want to experience together.
- Share memories from the early days of your relationship and reminisce about the journey you’ve taken.
- Plan a weekend getaway to a place you’ve never been before.
- Take turns choosing a book to read together and discuss.
- Watch each other’s favorite movies and discuss why they’re significant.
- Share your personal goals and create a vision board together.
- Write down a list of “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me” to exchange.
- Explore a new cuisine by cooking a meal together from a different culture.
- Attend a workshop or class that aligns with both of your interests.
- Visit a museum or art gallery and share your interpretations of the exhibits.
- Plan a surprise day-trip to a nearby town, exploring its attractions.
- Exchange playlists of songs that remind you of each other and discuss their significance.
#2: Quality Time
“Quality time does not mean that we have to spend our together moments gazing into each other’s eyes. It means that we are doing something together and that we are giving our full attention to the other person.”
– Gary Chapman
Regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, quality time is essential. Plan regular date nights – take turns deciding the activities. Surprise your partner by organizing an evening they’d love, whether it’s a cozy movie night or a fun outdoor adventure. Switching roles ensures both partners feel valued and cherished.
Here are a few ideas to help you spend some quality time together:
- Alternate planning surprise date nights, focusing on each other’s interests.
- Dedicate at least one evening a week to uninterrupted quality time – no phones or distractions.
- Explore a new hobby or activity together, like dancing, painting, or cooking classes.
- Stargaze together, either in your backyard or during a camping trip.
- Participate in a volunteer activity as a way of bonding while giving back.
- Set up a cozy picnic in your living room with your favorite foods.
- Take a scenic drive and stop at places that catch your interest.
- Plan a “theme night” with movies, food, and decorations from a certain era.
- Explore a local farmers’ market or craft fair hand-in-hand.
- Dedicate a day to visit a place from your past, such as where you first met.
- Try a couples’ workout or yoga session to strengthen your connection.
- Start a shared journal where you write letters to each other regularly.
#3: Acts of Thoughtfulness
“Familiar acts are beautiful through love.”
– Percy Bysshe Shelley
Oftentimes, actions speak louder than words. Showing thoughtfulness isn’t limited to grand gestures. Small acts build up over time, creating an environment of mutual appreciation.
Here are a few ideas to help you be more thoughtful in the way you interact with your partner:
- Leave sticky notes with sweet messages around the house for your partner to find.
- Cook a surprise dinner for your spouse featuring their favorite dishes.
- Offer to take on a chore or task your partner usually handles to show your appreciation.
- Leave small surprise gifts for each other around the house.
- Plan a surprise breakfast in bed for your partner.
- Create a personalized playlist of songs that remind you of your partner.
- Pack a lunch for your spouse, complete with a sweet note.
- Plan a movie night with all their favorite films and snacks.
- Make a DIY coupon book with gestures like “A Night of Your Favorite Meal.”
- Send a handwritten letter or postcard via traditional mail.
- Set up a bubble bath with candles and relaxing music.
- Surprise your partner by arranging a virtual call with distant loved ones.
- Dedicate a room or corner of your home to display your partner’s achievements.
- Give them a night out with their friends while you take care of things at home.
#4: Communication and Vulnerability
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
― Criss Jami
Open communication is vital. Men, challenge the stereotype that you must always be the strong one. Sharing your fears, dreams, and insecurities fosters a deep bond of trust. Women, let your partner in on your emotions and thoughts. When both of you open up, the emotional connection is reignited.
Here are a few ideas to help you communicate and be more vulnerable with each other:
- Set aside time for regular “heart-to-heart” conversations where you discuss your feelings openly.
- Share your hopes and fears about the future, creating a safe space for vulnerability.
- Read a book or take a workshop on communication together to enhance your skills.
- Have regular “state of the relationship” conversations to address any concerns.
- Share your most cherished memories and discuss why they’re special.
- Discuss your favorite books or articles and what impact they’ve had on you.
- Open up about your fears and support each other in overcoming them.
- Create a shared journal where you write about your daily experiences.
- Share your thoughts on current events and engage in meaningful discussions.
- Take a personality or compatibility test and discuss the results.
- Set aside time for weekly walks where you can talk openly and honestly.
- Use prompts like “What’s on Your Mind Today?” to encourage open dialogue.
- Discuss your dreams and aspirations, helping each other brainstorm how to achieve them
#5: Physical Intimacy
“Research shows we need to be emotionally connected. But it also shows that we also need to be sexually connected and if eroticism dies, then the marriage is in jeopardy.”
– Dr. Lauri Watson
Physical intimacy is integral to a romantic relationship. Men, remember that intimacy starts outside the bedroom. Women, take the lead sometimes – initiate physical contact, express your desires. Keep the flame alive by exploring new experiences together, from massages to trying new things in the bedroom.
Here are a few ideas to help you turn up the romance in the bedroom:
- Surprise your partner with a sensual massage after a long day.
- Plan a weekend getaway focused on reconnecting physically and emotionally.
- Experiment with new ways of expressing intimacy and pleasure.
- Plan a surprise weekend getaway to a cozy cabin or beachside resort.
- Try a dance class together, whether it’s salsa, tango, or ballroom.
- Plan a romantic picnic under the stars, complete with a comfortable blanket.
- Have a themed dress-up evening where you role-play characters from your favorite movie.
- Set up a spa night at home with massages, facials, and relaxing music.
- Create a playlist of sensual songs and have a private dance party.
- Experiment with new recipes for aphrodisiac-inspired meals to enjoy together.
- Write love letters or notes expressing your feelings, desires, and fantasies.
- Share a bubble bath and unwind together after a long day.
- Plan a day of pampering for each other, with massages, baths, and favorite treats.
- Write an erotic story starring the two of you for your partner.
#6: Adventure and Exploration
“If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.”
Keep the romance alive with adventure. Men, plan surprise getaways or take up a new hobby together. Women, suggest trying something you’ve both never done before – it could be as simple as a cooking class or as daring as skydiving. The thrill of shared experiences keeps the excitement alive.
Here are a few adventurous ideas:
- Plan a surprise weekend trip to a nearby town you’ve never visited before.
- Try an adventurous activity together, like hiking, kayaking, or even bungee jumping.
- Create a “date night jar” filled with creative and unique date ideas to choose from.
- Go on a spontaneous road trip, letting chance guide your destinations.
- Try a new outdoor activity like rock climbing, kayaking, or paddleboarding.
- Attend a local theater production or live music event.
- Plan a day-trip to visit historical sites or landmarks in your area.
- Create a travel bucket list together, including dream destinations.
- Explore your city as tourists, visiting landmarks and trying new restaurants.
- Take a cooking class to learn to prepare a cuisine you both enjoy.
- Try a virtual reality experience or escape room adventure.
- Set a goal to visit all the parks in your city and document your experiences.
- Plan a camping trip complete with stargazing and storytelling around the campfire.
#7: Support and Encouragement
“Communication in a healthy marriage is based on learning how to listen and being there for your partner when they need you the most.”
– Dr. John Gottman
Support your spouse’s ambitions just as they support yours. Encourage each other to pursue their dreams, whether it’s a career change or a personal project. Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Celebrate their achievements and provide a safe space for them to discuss their challenges.
Here are a few ideas to help you be supportive and encouraging to each other:
- Attend each other’s events and celebrations, showing solidarity and pride in your partner’s achievements.
- Create a vision board together, showcasing both of your goals and dreams.
- Offer words of encouragement and positivity when your partner faces challenges.
- Attend workshops, seminars, or conferences related to each other’s interests.
- Create a shared financial goal and work together to achieve it.
- Encourage each other to pursue hobbies, whether it’s painting, writing, or playing an instrument.
- Plan a surprise celebration for your partner’s achievements, big or small.
- Be an active listener when your partner discusses their aspirations and goals.
- Attend your partner’s important meetings, presentations, or events.
- Offer to help with tasks or responsibilities that your partner finds challenging.
- Explore ways to collaborate on a creative project or business venture.
- Celebrate “Progress Days” where you reflect on the steps you’ve taken toward your goals.
- Set a regular check-in time to discuss your personal and relationship growth.
#8: Gratitude and Acknowledgment
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward
Express gratitude daily. Men, tell your wife how much you appreciate her contributions to your life. Women, remind your husband of the positive impact he’s had. Acknowledge each other’s efforts and affirm your love.
Here are a few ideas to help you show gratitude for each other:
- Write love letters expressing your gratitude for all the ways your partner enriches your life.
- Share daily affirmations with each other, focusing on what you love and appreciate about one another.
- Plan a surprise “gratitude date” where you exchange stories about what you’re thankful for.
- Create a shared gratitude journal where you both write down daily appreciations.
- Exchange heartfelt “thank you” letters for specific things your partner has done.
- Plan a surprise gratitude-themed date night, expressing your thankfulness to each other.
- Celebrate a “Relationship Appreciation Day” where you focus on each other’s qualities.
- Record short video messages sharing your gratitude and love.
- Give surprise compliments on each other’s physical appearance.
- Set up a weekly ritual where you each share three things you’re grateful for.
- Express appreciation for the little things your partner does each day.
- Write down five qualities you admire in your partner and share them with them.
- Organize a gratitude jar where you add notes about what you’re thankful for in your partner.
#9: Laughter and Playfulness
“Play is also a way to be close and, even more important, a way to reconnect.”
– Lawrence J. Cohen
Inject laughter into your relationship. Laughter truly is the best medicine for keeping the romance alive.
Here are some ideas to help you have laughter and playfulness in your relationship:
- Host a game night with friends or play board games just the two of you.
- Share funny videos, memes, or jokes that resonate with your partner’s sense of humor.
- Plan a themed dress-up date night that encourages silliness and laughter.
- Set up a DIY photo booth and have a playful photoshoot.
- Play a round of “Would You Rather” with questions tailored to your partner’s interests.
- Create a collaborative art project and have fun with colors and creativity.
- Have a playful water fight in the backyard or at the beach.
- Write humorous “mockumentary” style stories about your lives together.
- Plan a scavenger hunt with clues leading to meaningful places.
- Share funny childhood stories and memories.
- Create your own secret language or inside jokes that only the two know.
#10: Reflection and Growth
“Always strive to give your spouse the very best of yourself, not what’s left over after you gave your best to everyone else.”
— Dave Willis.
In the journey of lifelong romance, reflection is essential. Both partners should take time to reflect individually and as a couple. Assess what’s working, what needs improvement, and set goals for the future. Remember, personal growth positively impacts your relationship.
Here are some ideas to help you reflect and grow in your marriage:
- Set aside time to review your relationship’s journey, noting milestones and areas of growth.
- Write down personal and relationship goals for the upcoming year and support each other in achieving them.
- Consider attending a couples’ workshop or counseling to enhance your bond further.
- Set aside a special evening each year to reflect on your journey together. Discuss your achievements, challenges, and how you’ve individually and collectively grown. This reflective conversation can serve as a roadmap for the future.
- Revisit your shared bucket list and update it with new dreams and goals. Reflect on the items you’ve accomplished and plan for new adventures to keep your journey exciting.
- Choose a personal growth book, workshop, or course to engage in together. Share your insights, discuss key takeaways, and support each other’s growth journeys.
- Designate a day each month for a relationship check-in. Reflect on the past month, discuss any concerns, and celebrate your achievements. This regular practice fosters ongoing communication.
- Revisit the places that hold significance in your relationship, such as where you had your first date or where you got engaged. Share your memories and reflect on how far you’ve come.
- Visualize your ideal future together. Discuss where you see yourselves in five, ten, or twenty years. This exercise helps align your visions and set shared goals.
- Write letters to your younger selves, sharing advice and insights gained from your journey together. This exercise offers a unique perspective on how you’ve evolved.
- Create a vision board together, filled with images and words that represent your desired future as a couple. Display it prominently as a reminder of your shared aspirations.
- Dedicate Sundays to self-care and personal growth. Encourage each other to engage in activities that nurture your individual well-being, reinforcing the idea that your relationship benefits from your individual growth.
Remember that all of these ideas won’t work for the two of you. Pick out the ones you find most meaningful and more importantly your partner finds most meaningful and try to implement them.
My husband often claims that he isn’t romantic. But he does things very naturally that I do fine romantic.
- They often have donuts at work and he knows that chocolate cake donuts are my favorite so he will bring one home for me
- He listens to things that I say that I want and gets them for me for my birthday, mother’s day, our anniversary, or for Christmas.
- Our very first Valentine’s Day he cooked me dinner. He got heart shaped ravioli, did a little cafe table in his living room, with a flower and a candle. It was very sweet and very romantic.
As we wrap up this episode, remember that a lasting romantic connection requires continuous effort and an open heart. Whether you’re a man or a woman, the key lies in authenticity, vulnerability, and a willingness to evolve together.
Remember, love is a journey, not a destination. Stay committed, stay passionate, and stay connected.