With a little effort and determination, everyone can spice up their relationship. And the best part? The more often you do it, the easier it will become. Here are four things to know  about keeping a long term relationship alive – and how to do them.

Four Things To Know About Keeping A Long Term Relationship Alive

1. Everyone needs to do it

We grow up in a world that tells us that if we’re with the right person – love, attraction and intimacy, are easy. But while Hollywood rom-coms and our social media feeds are filled with these images – relationship therapists like myself, see what others don’t.

We see the couples who are struggling with connection. The couples who feel like something is missing because they’re not being intimate. The couples who’ve stopped looking at each other lovingly.

There’s nothing wrong with a relationship that feel a little lacklustre – it just needs a boost. Once this is acknowledged, injecting a little life into your relationship doesn’t have to be so hard.

2. Yes, it can be fun

Once you’re onboard with being proactive about your relationship – you can set to work doing things that infuse it with fun.

Examples of ways couples can keep things fresh include: reminiscing about fun memories, surprising each other with date nights, and trying something new in the bedroom.

If you’re specifically looking of ways to connect on a deeper level – the “36 questions” are an excellent resource. Based on a research experiment by Aron et. al (1996), the 36 questions were designed to create connection and, possibly even love, between complete strangers.

The questions range from the simple, to the vulnerable, and include things like: “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” And ”If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?”

3. It helps knowing each other’s love languages

When it comes to keeping a long term relationship alive, addressing the five love languages can be an important part of the equation.

Created by Dr. Gary Chapman – the five love languages showcases the different ways in which people experience and show love. Usually, we have one preferred way of expressing love and it’s not always the same language for both people in a couple.

Because of the differences in our preferred love language, communication difficulties can arise – leading to a less-than-happy relationship.

Understanding your own love language and that of your partner’s, is like uncovering a short-cut to better communication and therefore, more love and intimacy in your relationship.

The five different languages are:

  • Words of affirmation
    • Receiving compliments or hearing someone tell you they love you is the best way for you to experience love.
  • Acts of service
    • When someone does something for you, like throws away the rubbish or cleans the bathroom, you feel loved.
  • Receiving gifts
    • Thoughtful presents really show you you’re cared for and loved by your partner.
  • Quality time
    • You feel the most loved when your partner makes an effort to spend time with you and give you their undivided attention.
  • Physical touch
    • Hugging, cuddling in bed or just being stroked on your arm is your preferred way of being shown love.

4. Attraction and desire can be re-awakened

If you’re looking for ways of keeping a long term relationship alive that center on attraction and intimacy – don’t just focus on the physical side of things.

While you might have been drawn to your partner because of the way they looked, attraction is often multi-layered and depends on lots of different things.

For some, it’s about the way their partner sounds when they laugh, for others it’s about the way they smell, the jokes they tell, or the way they shower them with attention.

By focusing on the very things you used to find attractive, you may very well start to feel that pull towards your loved one again. This is also a great way of getting out of a negative spiral where all you can see is your partner’s annoying qualities.

Relationships need our attention and energy in order to remain fun and fulfilling. Once they get this – the attraction and connection of the early days can be relived – not all of the time (there are only so many hours in a day!), but enough to keep us happy and satisfied.

Four great ways of doing this are:

  • Accepting and reminding yourself of the fact that relationships take work,
  • Using the “36 questions” to spark curiosity and intimacy,
  • Figuring out what your and your partner’s love language is – and showing them love and affection by using their love language (even if it’s not yours)
  • Focusing on what attracted you to your partner in the first place, besides the physical things

Now you know about four way of keeping a long term relationship alive – make a note in your calendar of which one you’re going to start with – and stick to it. 

Originally published on Therapy by Leigh.