When asked what they have enjoyed the most in their lives, elderly people often speak of love. They tell stories about their spouses of many decades, or flings they had in their youth. In speaking of this love, while the companionship and support are usually mentioned and greatly appreciated, it is the memories of romance that awaken the twinkle in their eyes.

Romance is one of the joys of life, adding color and sparkle to the monotony of routine. Romance is one the things that brings new couples together, and provides the setting and magic for people to fall in love. But as couples come to know each other and settle into their routines, romance begins to fade. This is a natural part of every relationship. We couldnt keep up the all-consuming, hormone spiking excitement of a new romance for years and years, we have lives that need tending. In healthy couples, romance tends to be replaced by companionship, trust, emotional intimacy, commitment, and mutual understanding.

But couples that remain happy for the long term find ways to keep the spark alive, even amidst the routine and comfortability of having their partners integrated into their lives. Here are a few tips to help you re-ignite the spark, and have some stories of your own to tell in your elder years.

Share Unstructured Time

One reason many couples give for the lack of passion in their relationships is a lack of time. We are so busy with work and sometimes parenting responsibilities that romance takes a back burner. And if we do have date nights or other moments together they become just another item on our to-do lists, as stressful and obligatory as any other. But making time for romance is an investment in our and our partners happiness, and it works best when we share that time wholeheartedly and with full presence.

Find moments when you can be together without looking at a clock. Turn off the cellphones and computers and put away your watch. Take a timeless walk. Send the kids to a friends house and give yourself an afternoon in bed. Have one night a week where you commit to hanging out and doing something together that you both enjoy until you fall asleep without checking the time.

Communicate and Touch Each Other

Emotional intimacy is just as important as physical intimacy for keeping romance alive. And finding ways to be physically affectionate with each other throughout the day increases bonding and keeps you connected. Hold each others hands as you share the triumphs and challenges of your day. Hug each other in the morning, or when you come home from work, or both. Make each hug at least 30 seconds. Remember that it is important to talk to each other about the truth of your heart as much as you talk about chores and household details.

Exercise Together

Exercise Together and increase your enjoyment of sex

Part of the excitement of romance is the adrenaline, dopamine, oxytocin, and other hormones and neurotransmitters that are released when we are falling in love. Exercising together can help both of you stay in shape, which will increase libido and increase your enjoyment of sex when it does happen. Exercise also triggers the production and release of those same stimulating feel-good chemicals. And if you and your partner do any kind of vigorous physical activity together, it is a lot more likely that you will end up in the bedroom.

Take Time Apart

Conversely, another way to restore novelty and appreciation to your relationship is to enjoy time apart. When you first started dating this person, you probably had some time between dates to integrate the experience, understand your feelings about that person, and find your energetic center again. Space gives us time to find out who we are as individuals, and do the good work of cultivating self-love, so that we can show up for each other with a full cup. Consistently cultivating the connection to our inner worlds makes it less likely that we will fall into co-dependent patterns, which are the death of romance. Time apart also gives us a chance to miss and long for our partners. It breaks us out of routine and expectation, and can be an antidote to taking each other for granted.

Find activities that you enjoy doing without your partner. Have other meaningful friendships outside of your relationship. Take trips apart from each other. Nurture your own creativity and autonomy, and watch how excited you are to come back together.

Celebrate the Small Moments

Show your appreciation in simple ways

Sometimes life gets so busy that it seems impossible to do the large fantastic things you and your partner used to do. But that doesnt mean that the romance has to die. Everyday life presents countless opportunities to stoke the fires of passion and show your appreciation in simple ways.

Leave a love note in your partners sock drawer, or get up early and make a lunch that she or he can take to work. Wear your partners favorite shirt when you have dinner together. Keep track of important events in your partners life, and remember to give encouragement or ask how a something went. Even remembering to express gratitude and appreciation for each other and the normal things your partner does for you every day can go a long way in keeping the romance alive.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

At the beginning of relationships we are awash with the chemicals and sensations produced by novelty. New is exciting to our bodies and brains, which is what can bring fresh couples together and drive older couples apart. Unfortunately, many people resort to cheating or pornography addictions to satisfy this desire for novelty. But you can bring the excitement of newness into your committed partnership by being open and curious together.

Exploring a new physical activity like salsa dancing, learning a new skill like Mediterranean cooking or a way of communicating, or even playing a new type of word game can bring novelty into your life. Mental stimulation can be just as effective as physical stimulation for reawakening passion. Bonus points for choosing something that is a little edgy and challenging for both of you, as the reward and pleasure centers in the brain are more stimulated when we overcome a challenge. Find ways to grow, both individually and together, and your relationship will continue to evolve and support both of you as it did at the beginning.

Surprise Each Other

Another factor in new relationships is the element of surprise. New partners are mysterious, and can reveal surprising things about themselves during the courtship phase. Once we think we know everything about our partners, the mystery is lost and some of the romance fades.

Spontaneity is like placing a fresh log on the fire of love. It catches us off guard and can make us more attentive and appreciative. And if it is a sexy or romantic surprise, all the better. It can help to observe your partner closely, and pick surprises that will be both helpful and unexpected. They can be small like waking up your partner with a flower or a household chore when its not your turn, or huge like booking a trip or hiring a cleaning service to upgrade the house.

Use Sexy Language

Use Sexy Language

When was the last time you complemented your spouse? Saying the sweet naughty things you used to say, or making up new ones, is another way of bringing the spark back. It is even more effective when you complement less-obvious traits, mentioning aspects of your partners intelligence, physique, or actions that he or she might not even notice. You can start in the morning, with something silly like complimenting a sleepy smile or how you like seeing your partners body first thing in the morning.. Then send flirty texts at random moments throughout the day. You can mention some of your favorite memories from steamy nights in the past, or fantasies you would like to share with your partner. At night, even if you are not initiating sex, take a moment to compliment your partner in a flirty way before bed. Keep it simple, sincere, and spontaneous for best results.

Be Vulnerable and Compassionate

Romance does not only happen in bed. It is also awakened in the moments of true connection. Feeling seen, and able to express the truth of our emotions, makes us feel safe and supported by our partners. This feeling of emotional safety allows us to both be vulnerable ourselves and invite our partners vulnerability. True intimacy is a full-self experience; body, mind, and heart are all exposed and shared in the hottest couples. When we are open and compassionate with each other, we are more likely to want to take off our clothes, figuratively and literally.

Go On a Romantic Vacation

Sometimes we need to get completely out of our lives to remember how much we love each other. The routine of our daily lives can be all-consuming, and it can be challenging to remember passion when our heads are filled with to-do lists and we can see the pile of paperwork. But some time away with your partner, without the kids or work responsibilities, can do wonders for helping you remember how sexy this person you sleep next to every night actually is to you.

One more aspect of romance is that both partners need to be willing to keep it alive. Both of you have to want to re-ignite the spark, or make sure that it never goes out, and do the work to do so. For some of the hottest couples, romance is a part of their commitment, something they both prioritize and actively stoke. However long you have been together, it is nearly always possible to reawaken the romance, with some creativity, perseverance, curiosity, and presence.


Parenting Magazine

Psych Central

Susan Valentine