Many people confuse the early “in love” experience as how a relationship should feel in every moment, even as the years go by, stresses compound, and ongoing effort is needed to keep that love working. As our relationships grow, we can often feel like the magic we once experienced when falling in love and building a life together has transformed into a more subtle, even mundane experience that’s build on tolerance and acceptance rather than a strong burning desire of electric love.
Yet, deep intimacy is entirely possible as your relationship goes on. Your love for each other can deepen and transform into an experience more alive than you could imagine. You just need the right skills to continue to build and foster that sense of true connection and communication throughout your long-term life. Here’s how to maintain that magical spark throughout your relationship.
1. Communicate openly, honestly, and regularly.
Start by having regular, weekly talks that allow you to connect about everything from your children and stresses to your desires for the future, to memories of moments where you truly connected. This will help you to keep the problems minor, address resentment levels far in advance, and keep your communication open at all times so that when there is time, you can focus on being intimate instead of arguing. It also allows you to reminisce about what made your connection so wonderful in the first place, and any recent moments where you felt truly connected. To keep your communication as strong as possible, make sure that both parties feel respected, cared about, understood, and needed by one another.
2. Compromise and solve problems together.
Both compromise and problem solving, and well as intimacy and emotional connection, are important to solving any disagreements in a helpful, productive way. Learn to be a successful problem-solver through not just open communication, but mutual respect and emotional intelligence, to finally put an end to the fighting and power struggles. Mastering these skills will ultimately lead to more intimacy, so you can both let your guard down and get to the root of your struggles while chipping away at the emotions associated with them.
3. Don’t hold a grudge.
As you work toward mastering better communication, letting go of grudges will become easier because you’re able to talk about what’s bothering you in a rational way, as it’s happening, rather than bottling it up and allowing it to explode at a later date. Make sure to assert yourself, express your feelings, ask clearly for what you want, and let your partner know why it’s important to you. This helps your partner to relate to and understand your experience, from your perspective.
4. Cherish your intimate moments together.
Time alone, face to face, without the distraction or stress of the outside world, is truly the most precious time for your relationship’s well-being. It allows you to take time to really be present, listen to each other, connect, and keep your flame burning. Make a point to touch as often as possible (even if it means simply putting your hand on your spouse’s leg while driving), and create a private snuggling space where you can both unwind in peace. Then, commit to spending a few moments each week making use of it!
5. Actively work to make your partner feel understood and accepted.
Start by making an effort to listen and understand each others’ needs and wants in your weekly conversations. Then, expand that skill to every day. Lower expectations of romance and glamour, and aspire to simply enjoy one another’s company. Appreciate every gentle touch, momentary eye contact, and shared laughter together. Remind your partner how much they are loved, and show that you’re truly interested by asking about their day and planning activities together.
6. Show your appreciation.
Praise and appreciation can be regularly shown through talking, physical affection, and nurturing of the relationship. Let your partner know you appreciate them, whether it’s a personality trait you love, something kind they did, how they listened and respected you, or simply their loving companionship. The more you praise what you like, the more you’ll get of it. After all, we all want to be appreciated, and are motivated to keep getting that kind praise!
7. Don’t expect your relationship to be the one thing that makes you happy and whole.
Often, we expect our relationships to make us happy. If you’re feeling sad or lonely, don’t automatically assume that your relationship can cure it. Other factors in your life, including internal factors, may be contributing to your dismay. Love cannot cure all, and your relationship is not always to blame for unhappiness. Your partner can’t always be the one person to make you happy or fix what’s wrong. Happiness is an inside job. Work to create happiness in every aspect of your life, and you will find that your relationship grows within that happiness, rather than happiness growing from your relationship.