Like brother and sister. Haven’t you heard that phrase being used to describe husband and wife or partners who’ve been together for the longest time? One challenge in long term relationships is keeping the passion alive. The love may still be there, but it’s the kind of love you feel for a sibling, or a close friend.
How can you tell if you and your spouse have gotten to this stage? You may not have big fights and you’re comfortable just living in the same house. But somehow, you feel something’s missing and you secretly long for those times when you felt that giddy delight of just being with him.
Here are some signs that your long term relationship has lost its passion:
You don’t talk anymore.
Like you used to do. Okay, so those are lyrics of a song, but they ring so true for couples in a passionless relationship. Even though you don’t argue, meaningful conversations have stopped. When you do talk, it’s about the budget or house management concerns. You don’t share what happened at the office today or how your meet-up with friends went.
You (almost) never have sex anymore.
It’s normal for couples who have been together for a long time to have sex less often than when they were newly married. Sex is a significant factor that distinguishes a romantic relationship from a platonic one. It brings about both physical and emotional connection between two people. But if you’re only having birthday or anniversary sex, something’s definitely amiss.
You’ve ceased to be the most important person in his life or vice versa.
When he prefers the company of friends to you, or you never make plans for time together. When he gets a promotion and you hear it from someone else or your book is about to be published, but you tell your best friend first. You’re not each other’s no. 1 person anymore. You’ve become an afterthought, an option.
You no longer engage in shared activities.
You used to enjoy trying out new experiences and going on adventures together, even if you have different interests or hobbies. But after several years, you’ve settled for evenings at home where he watches TV and you’re busy on social media on your phone. You live together but lead separate lives.
Before the relationship fizzles out completely and dire consequences follow (an extramarital affair, divorce,) couples in long term relationships should take steps to rekindle the love and passion to have a happy and satisfying union. Being able to do so is not a one-time thing because these feelings need nurturing for them to last.
Follow these steps to bring back the passion in your long-term relationship:
1. Nurture healthy passion for each other.
Passion is an oft used word that most people take to mean intense desire and overwhelming enthusiasm for something or someone. Sometimes it is confused with obsession, which is a form of unhealthy passion. But the healthy passion for each other in a long-term relationship goes beyond fervent ardor. And nurturing it entails the willingness to “suffer,” to forego some pleasurable pursuits and activities so that you can focus on your partner. There is no resentment, only happiness at doing something that will forge a stronger connection between you and your spouse.
2. Be aware of, and focus on, your partner’s good qualities.
When you’ve been with someone for a long time, you tend to dwell on the problems and ignore the small but joyful moments. You fixate on the habits of your spouse that you find irritating. Done on a regular basis, this leads to distancing from each other to avoid a spat and results in loss of passion.
Make a conscious effort to stop when you find yourself mulling over minor issues and silently blaming your partner for them. Think instead of the good traits that attracted you to him in the first place. Some people give up when the heady and intoxicating romance of earlier days are gone. But if you love one another, your relationship matures and becomes grounded on serenity, stability and gratitude for each other’s loyal and calming presence.
3. Express your appreciation through words and touch.
If you have stopped communicating except for necessary mundane things, it may feel awkward to begin talking again on a deeper level. So start gradually. When your partner does his share of chores, show your gratitude by saying “thank you.” When you need to call his attention, tap him on the shoulder. As simple words of appreciation and little touches grow more frequent, bonds of connection will follow, allowing for intimacy and passion to grow again.
4. Communicate on a more profound level.
Communication in long term relationships often dwindle. Turn it around so that you start talking again about your feelings and hopes and beliefs. Touch base with your partner at least once during the day, even if only to ask if everything’s okay. Go on date nights on a regular basis to spend time with each other and talk.
An important reminder: never be judgmental or scornful if you don’t share your partner’s beliefs or opinions. Respect each other’s individuality so that you both feel safe in your conversations.