Losing the spark in a long-term relationship is often inevitable and quite disappointing as you start to crave the high you once felt at the initial stage of the relationship which made you feel like you're on cloud nine. The longer you're with someone, the more likely your relationship is to evolve from "romantic" love into "companionate" love, according to Mona D. Fishbane, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and the author of Loving with the Brain in Mind: Neurobiology & Couple Therapy.
Romantic love is more about sexual arousal, while companionate love is durable, fairly slow to develop, also known as affectionate love, friendship-based love, or attachment. That's just a nicer way of saying as time passes, you're probably less interested in break-the-bed sex than you are in curling up and watching Friends reruns together.
So, is this actually a normal phenomenon or is there a problem with your relationship? Fret not, it is perfectly normal. Even better news is, there are simple ways you could start implementing right this day to reignite the spark and keep the magic in your relationship going.
Learning through video is more your thing? No problem. Then check out the video below.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND 'LOVE IS BLIND'
Neuroscientists have studied madly-in-love folks by putting them in the fMRI machine as they look at a photo of their beloved. The parts of the brain that were activated while looking at the lover are the same areas activated when one takes cocaine—the reward centers. These researchers concluded that love is just like a drug. Now I’ve never tried cocaine, but I’ve certainly been crazy in love before, and it is indeed a high.
The three areas in our brains which are activated include testosterone (the hormone fuelling the sex drive in both men and women), oxytocin (the bonding hormone/neurotransmitter), and dopamine (focusing on “that special someone”). It turns out that in this early stage of love, the critical part of the brain goes quiet. This is the science behind “love is blind;” we see our lovers with through rainbow tinted glasses. I didn’t notice my lover’s flaws, nor he mine. Perhaps this is simply nature’s way of helping us bond closely with our partner.
WAKING UP FROM THE SPELL
Truth is, madly in love is a temporary state; the brain can’t sustain such intensity forever. At some point the critical parts of the brain gets activated again, and we then see our partners for all that they are, flaws, pet peeves, and all. The jazzed-up chemicals slowly calms itself, and our drug high makes way for a calmer, clearer brain state. Researches found that the process of romantic love transitioning into the tamer version aka companionate love happens anywhere between one and three years into a relationship (what a bummer).
Many couples are deeply disappointed when their sexy romance fades into a rather sedate version. They crave the high they once felt during their early love. This is one of the reasons which leads some people to cheat on their partners, have affairs, get a divorce and remarry. They are aching to feel that high again. But if you think about it, eventually the new relationship will become old, which begs the question: How does one cultivate and nurture love over the long haul? How can we keep the lovey-dovey sparks flying continuously?
Here are my 7 tips to help you get those sparks flying again in your relationship.
7 TIPS TO KEEP THE MAGIC IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP ALIVE
Tip #1 Be the person you want to love
It is very easy to let complacency seep into your relationship and start wearing sweat pants to a night out with your partner, overeat and let yourself go or don't bother to upkeep your looks. We might think hey I'm married, so why bother?
If you want to sustain a healthy attraction with your beloved, then you must bother. Consistently put in effort to eat right, make yourself feel good, feel sexy, and make your partner feel wanted. This helps keep the passion alive.
Tip #2 Always clarify, never assume
Whether it's our external looks or our internal needs, we are constantly changing. As we spend some time or several years with a person, we tend to fall into the belief of "I-know-you-better-than-you-know-yourself" trap. We think we know our partner's every move, every thought, and every need. The fact is, that is not correct and unfair to our partners to think that way.
Maybe last week your partner was craving for spaghetti, and next week they crave Asian noodles. If you always assume you know your partner, never take the time to get to "know them again" from time to time, and always assume you know what their likes and dislikes are, then you are not giving your relationship room for growth.
Take the time to reconnect and relearn what your partner's preferences, wants, and needs are every now and then. This will let them feel that you really care and want to understand how you can better satisfy their emotional, mental, physical needs, as well as learn and grow with them.
Tip #3 Be slow to anger, fast to forgive
The more time we spend with our loved ones, the thicker our egos become around them. We feel so comfortable, so certain they will stick around no matter what, that we easily use them like a punching bag, as a source to release our stress and anger. We take them for granted, forget that they have feelings too, and overlook thanking them for the little things they do for us on a day to day basis. This causes more friction and unhappiness to build within the relationship as time passes.
When you first got together, think back on how you'd check yourself to make sure you put your best self forward. Why? Well, who wants to date or be with someone who easily releases their anger, is unappreciative, and doesn't know how to say they are sorry whenever they've made a mistake?
If you've made a mistake or said something wrong, don't let your ego get in the way. Apologize sincerely, but also don't just say you're sorry for the sake of it. Apologize with the intention to take measures to ensure the same mistakes don't get repeated, as well as make sure you will put in the necessary precautions to do better for the future.
Tip #4 Have a "sweet moments" record sheet
Did you know that in our minds, the bad outweighs good?
Negative events may edge out positive ones in our memories, according to research by Elizabeth Kensinger of Boston College. "Most of the time, if not all of the time, negative events tend to be remembered in a more accurate fashion than positive events," says Kensinger.
While we might not remember more total details about a bad event we experience, the details you remember about a negative event are more likely to be accurate. The details we are most likely to remember accurately are the things that directly cause our negative emotional reaction. So, for example, if you are mugged, you may remember the gun pointed at you with a high level of detail because it is what caused your fear, but you may completely forget details that are peripheral, such as the things around you on the street or what your assailant was wearing.
"It is clear that there are some aspects of events that are really well-preserved, and then people may completely forget other aspects of the event altogether," Kensinger said, adding that the phenomenon has been documented in research on eyewitness testimony.
The reasons for these sharper memories may be rooted directly in the way our brains are wired.
Our memory network
Our brains have a specific memory network that kicks into gear whenever we are trying to remember something. According to Kensinger, she explains that it seems like when we're having an emotional reaction, the emotional circuitry in the brain kind of turns on and enhances the processing in that typical memory network such that it works even more efficiently and even more effectively to allow us to learn and encode those aspects that are really relevant to the emotions that we're experiencing.
This focusing of the memory network during a fear-inducing event makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, because your attention is focused on the details that are most likely to enhance your chances of survival if you encounter the situation again. So you want to know what the gun looks like, where it's pointed and whether the assailant seems likely to use it. "Those sorts of details are critical," Kensinger said. "Whether or not the person is wearing a baseball cap, whether the person is short or tall—those sorts of details, in the immediate kind of survival instinct mode, probably are completely irrelevant."
Now that you understand how our brains are wired, and that we tend to hold on more tightly to negative memories, this is why it is so easy to pin point our partner's flaws and mistakes, but tend to fairly easily forget all the good they've done or love they've shown us.
So how to combat this? Have a 'Sweet Moments' record sheet.
It doesn't matter if you prefer to write it in your journal or have a record sheet on your laptop, all you have to do is note down the date and what acts of love your partner did for you that made you happy, made you feel loved. It can be he or she giving you a flower, being proactive to do something for you, surprising you, wrote a thoughtful note to you, cooked for you, anything! Note down as frequently as you can, as it will serve you well, especially during challenging times in your relationship.
I personally started this habit since 3 years ago, and it has always never failed to bring a smile to my face whenever I looked back at all the wonderful things my husband has done for me. I'm only human, I get angry too, and I lose my cool at times. This 'Sweet Moments' record sheet has helped me manage my emotions better, and made me feel so grateful for my relationship, more than I could ever imagine.
If it's one tip I highly recommend you put into motion out of the 7 tips noted here, this would be it.
Tip #5 Proactive love vs. passive love
Life happens, and we fall into a routine. Routines are safe and good to have, but they can also be boring. Every so often, initiate doing something out of the ordinary, something you and your partner wouldn't normally do. It can be trying or learning something new and exciting together.
Head to the spa
Learn how to paint
Go for a stroll at the beach
Write a loving letter and mail it to them (sometimes the most simplistic things are the sweetest acts of love)
Surprise them with a date night
Send flowers to their office (you don't need a reason to send flowers any time, any day!)
Put in the time to research all the creative ways you can surprise your partner to keep the relationship feeling fresh. Invest your energy into nurturing the relationship by doing something your partner wouldn't expect as often as you can. It'll help keep the excitement and energy between you and your partner alive.
Tip #6 Learn their love language
According to the best selling author of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, there are 5 main ways how we all prefer to communicate the language of love.
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
So say if your partner prefers having quality time as their preferred language of love, you'll then know that by making time for them, giving them your full attention during those periods, they'll feel loved, appreciated, and emotionally satisfied overall.
Tip #7 Go for short trips
When was the last time you went on an adventure with your beloved? It doesn't have to be for long periods or far away destinations, and it certainly doesn't have to be expensive in order to be exciting. Sometimes we miss out exploring even the nearby towns or the neighbouring states, simply because we get too complacent and comfortable with where we live.
Take a little time to Google what are the nearby farms, parks, or beaches that you could visit over the weekend - or even, right after work! Dedicate a few hours to explore and create moments with your partner. Take lots of photos and videos, and you could look back on these exciting moments with your honey and build more happiness within your relationship.
Stop saying you have no time, or maybe 'next time'. Sometimes next time becomes never, and before you know it, your relationship may end up stagnant and lacking in passion.
Do take the time; travel, explore, and create happy moments together as frequently as possible.
Once you’ve watched or read through this article, I’d love to hear from you.
What steps do you take in order to keep the sexy passion and love flowing in your relationship? Do share your knowledge and experience in the comments below.
Share as much detail as you can. Many lovely souls come here for insight and inspiration. Your story may be just what someone else needs to have a major breakthrough.
I really hope this helps, and I wish you all the best in reigniting and maintaining the spark in your relationship for the long run. If your relationship truly does matter to you, then take action to maintain it. Keep it fresh and alive as how you first felt when you fell in love, and it'll continue to blossom into a beautiful flower for years and years to come.
Thank you so much for watching, sharing, and adding your perspective. Now go create some extraordinary activity or sexy time with your beloved ;)
Live strong, and have courage to create a life you love because your happiness matters.
With SO much 💖,
P.S. Have a question you’d love to ask me? Do give me your Q on my page Ask Trish Anything and I'll personally get back to you with some empowering steps to help guide you through your challenges. I look forward to serve and help you towards a brighter future, a future you've always dreamt of. Do give me your Q here.
Knowing when to ask for help and guidance is not weakness. If anything, it's a strength.
P.P.S. **BOOKS I RECOMMEND TO CREATE A LOVING, LASTING RELATIONSHIP**