Falling In Love Again With Your Spouse
Posted on January 18th, 2023
I was interviewed by Brett Lovett at Authority Magazine as part of his series about the “5 Things You Need To Rekindle Love In A Marriage That Has Gone Cold?
Here is an excerpt:
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Rekindle Love In A Marriage That Has Gone Cold?” Can you please give a story or example for each?
When people first get married, they often experience a sense of “flow” or excitement about their new life together. Many refer to this stage as the “honeymoon” phase and for good reason. The beginning of a marriage offers an exciting and dynamic time of learning, planning, and looking towards the future.
After being in a relationship long-term we may lose that feeling of “flow” if we do not continue to challenge ourselves as a couple. Without paying attention to your marriage, things can operate on rote memory or can start to feel repetitive or mundane. Even new marriages experienced this monotony due to the COVID pandemic. Being sequestered into our homes and away from the adventurous things that couples like to do together caused a strain in most marriages. Surveys show this caused a 34 percent increase in the number of couples contemplating divorce. These are grim statistics, but there are helpful ways to rekindle the warmth in a relationship that has grown cold.
“Try New Things Together”
One helpful idea is to do something novel together on a regular basis. When starting a new marriage, we gain a great deal of “expansion” that helps us to learn and grow with our partner. They make our lives bigger whether through new social connections, new interests or even just learning new things about each other. Each new phase in a marriage also offers these feelings of expansion and learning, for instance starting a family, beginning a new career, or moving into your first home together. The problem is that these events are singular and do not persist for the entire relationship. It is up to the couple to continue challenging each other to grow, learn and explore life together.
Some ways to reignite your spark through novelty could be as simple as cooking new recipes together, participating in a hobby that your partner enjoys, or finding new ones to start together. Doing this will help keep you feeling excited and connected by offering new things to talk about and new experiences to explore.
“Date Your Partner”
How often you do this is important, as regular maintenance of the marriage is crucial. That is why “dating” your partner takes on a new role in a marriage. It is no longer a means to an end, with the end being marriage. Rather it is a tool for connecting and continuing to be active in your love for each other. For instance, you would not expect to stay physically fit by going to the gym once per month. Likewise, you cannot expect to keep the spark in your relationship alive by connecting infrequently. It is recommended to prioritize time together at least weekly if possible.
“Think Outside the Box”
If getting out of the house is not feasible, whether due to childcare, finances or scheduling, planning “date-nights in” can be just as beneficial. What you do on your date are less important than the act of making time with your partner. Each couple has different interests and reminiscing about what you did as a couple at the start of your relationship can be a fun way to connect and inspire exciting new ideas.
“Regular Check ins”
If you are spending time together, learning and growing then you are most likely communicating. Communication comes in many forms, and it is not always talking. The silent treatment is a form of communication, in fact every gesture can serve as communication. Some of our important thoughts and feelings can take a back seat in a marriage if we are not regularly checking in with each other. Check-ins should not be saved for arguments, instead they should be a regular part of the culture of a healthy marriage. Make a point of asking our partner how they are doing if you notice they are stressed, but also working to share your experiences can help aid the connection, making all of the date-nights you plan together that much more rewarding. One useful way to ensure these check-ins occur is by using the “Daily Temperature Reading” otherwise known as the DTR, develop by Virginia Satir.
— Dr. Kelley