Here’s a secret that no one likes to share: Keeping romance in your marriage going takes work.
That’s right. Listen up, newlyweds! That romantic high you are riding right now? It’s going to take effort and intention to maintain it as your wedding anniversaries mount up over the years.
Marriage itself doesn’t kill romance. The romance in a marriage is entirely dependent on the actions and efforts of the two people involved in the marriage.
We know that married couples can have a tendency to become complacent over time, gradually taking their partners for granted. This shift happens naturally. The couple settles into a comfortable zone of familiarity and routine. This is one of the advantages of marriage—the fact that you don’t have to pretend to be anything other than who you truly are.
But what happens when that settling in feeling pushes out the romantic feeling from your relationship?
Keeping romance in your marriage takes work, but it is necessary to work to keep things healthy. Think of it as being similar to housecleaning: you tidy your house daily with a big clean at least once a week. This keeps things healthy and enjoyable for everyone that lives in your house, right? If you didn’t pay attention to keeping things clean, no one would want to live there.
It’s the same for your marriage. If you don’t pay attention to maintaining the romance, no one will be happy in the marriage.
How do you keep the romance in marriage alive?
1. Never stop dating your spouse
Always prepare for your date as if you were going out for the first time. Many couples have a dedicated “date night” once a week, or at least once a month. To heighten the romantic feeling pre-date, think about what you are going to wear, where you are going to go, and what you’d like to talk about over drinks and dinner. Dress carefully for your date night, paying attention to your pretty underpinnings, your hair and makeup. Don’t forget the perfume! Show your spouse that you appreciate him by putting on your best face.
2. Give gifts
Surprise him or her with small gifts, for no reason whatsoever. Do thoughtful little things, like hiding love notes in their briefcase or a Post-It with a little heart stuck to their cell phone.
3. Laugh away the small irritations, pick your battles carefully
Nothing kills romance in marriage quicker than holding a grudge or nitpicking over every perceived slight. Learn to communicate in an adult way. Rather than complaining “You forgot AGAIN to take the recycling to the curb…just like you forget everything.”, why not make a joke out of it: “Hey! The recycling can’t walk itself to the curb. Can you bring it out now, please?”
4. Choose romance
Don’t wait for the feeling of romance in marriage to just show up and appear. You must choose to infuse your marriage with romance. Do something romantic intentionally, each day. An expression of gratitude: “I love how you manage to put in eight hours at the office AND help the kids with their homework” or “How lucky I am to be married to you!”; a bouquet of her favorite flowers brought home for no reason other than you saw them and thought of her; a souvenir from the city where you went for a business trip. Romance is not just for your anniversary…you can practice it every single day of your married life.
5. Keep a romantic notebook together
A nice way to practice daily romance is to keep a notebook open in a room where you both frequently go, and jot down little love notes to each other as you pass by. From “Thank you for cooking such a delicious dinner” to “You look fantastic in that suit!”, fill the romantic notebook with your love notes and then start a new one. By your 50th anniversary, you’ll have a lovely archive of warm memories to look back upon.
6. Do a home improvement project together
Start with something that you know you can both do together without this project becoming a source of conflict. Maybe paint a bathroom? Take all the steps together, from viewing paint chips to prepping the walls. Intentionally make the time spent together on this project a romantic moment. Once the job is finished, you’ll have a perpetual reminder of romance. And a nice bathroom!
7. Carve out 30 minutes each evening for “Unplugged Time”
This means 30 minutes free of cell phones, tablets, pcs and television. Make a pact that you must use those 30 minutes for some romance—either making out like teenagers, or just talking face to face. Lovemaking can be part of this, too (but you might want to dedicate more than 30 minutes for that!).
8. Read to each other
Reading aloud is a lost art, and something so very romantic. Pick a book or some poetry that lends itself to romance (not the newspaper). Shakespeare’s sonnets, or a novel by Nicholas Sparks. You’ll be amazed at how romantic listening to your partner recite poetry or some pages of a great story can be.
9. Puzzle-problem solve together
It doesn’t sound romantic, but trust us, it is. Do the Sunday Times crossword puzzle together. Work on a jigsaw puzzle together. Figure out anagram puzzles together. Construct a piece of IKEA furniture together. All that time together moving towards problem resolution? You are helping up the romance factor in your marriage.