This article has been supplied and reproduced with permission from the Great Health Guide, a 96five community contributor.
Some professionals will tell you that maintaining a long-term relationship is as easy as following a few simple steps. On the other hand, I believe that keeping the spark alive in a monogamous, enduring relationship is hard work. Let’s face it, anything that is valuable, precious and rare does not come easily. So, if you want a quick fix for your relationship, this might be a difficult thought to ponder. However, if you are prepared to put in some effort and be intentional about your relationship, this is an article that can be helpful for you and your partner…because keeping the spark alive in your relationship is so vital.
One of the key strategies that can help relationships keep the spark alive is to plan intentional time with one another. This sounds like a simple strategy, but life gets busy and one of the first sacrifices that couples often make is ‘date time’. Here’s a link to some apps for suggestions and questions for ‘date night’.
Anything that is valuable, precious & rare does not come easily.
Think back to your first few months together with your partner and imagine the amount of time and effort you put into your relationship. Of course, circumstances will have changed over the years however, healthy relationships thrive with one-on-one ‘intentional’ time. I use the word ‘intentional’ because, this doesn’t just happen. It is important to make an agreement with your partner to spend at least one night a week where your relationship is the focus.
You can incorporate many themes to your weekly meeting depending on what you both want. It can be as simple as lighting a few candles and playing some soft music while you share a meal together. If you want to go deeper you could ask each other questions that perhaps you don’t talk about in the daily humdrum of life; hidden aspirations, things that make you cry, people you admire, regrets and fears. This fantastic little book of questions will give you some ideas. The reason for these questions is to let your partner in and to see deeply into you.
You could also use your weekly meeting for something fun and light-hearted. Research claims that happy couples tend to laugh together more often, so it doesn’t always have to be deep and profound. Go bowling, take a hand-in-hand walk around the block; be adventurous and spontaneous. The idea is to connect intentionally and say, ‘our relationship is important and we recognise that it takes time and effort, so we want to do this together.’ Some people might be thinking that it can’t be done when kids are involved, careers are demanding and responsibilities beckon. However, as I said in the beginning, this is intentional and deliberate work and the rewards are well worth the effort. Research tells us that a happy relationship can enhance a person’s long-term physical and emotional health.
So, this article will get you started on an intentional path to connecting with your partner at least once a week, with the aim to keeping the spark alive in your relationship. Use the time however you choose but remind yourselves that a satisfying relationship won’t happen by itself; it happens with time, tenderness and thoughtfulness.
A happy relationship can enhance a person’s long-term physical & emotional health.
One last note, I know that when I read articles, I often question the credibility of the author and wonder if they ‘talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk’. The above strategies are evidence-based theoretical underpinnings to a healthy relationship. However, I also utilise all the strategies that I suggest in my articles on my own marriage of 23 years. So, they are tried and tested on a long-term committed relationship, in a very busy household, filled with children, careers and the normal daily routine. I am pleased to say that intentional board meetings in our home leave us anything but bored!!
Merie Burton is a registered psychotherapist and counselor. She can be contacted via her website. For more health articles go to 96five community contributor Great Health Guide.