The honeymoon may be over, but that doesn’t have to mean the end of romance. Go on, break out of your relationship rut, reconnect with your partner, and fire up the passion that brought you together in the first place.
Focus on the positive.
Remember those fabulous qualities you noticed in your partner when you started dating? Time and stress may have brought their less-favorable traits into sharper focus, says psychologist Elizabeth R. Lombardo, PhD. But their good qualities are probably still there.
Fixating on the negatives wouldn't have worked in the beginning and it doesn't work now. "In marriage, it's easy to freeze your partner into a fixed perception. Get out of that," says Sherrie Campbell, PhD. She is a marriage and family therapist in Yorba Linda, Calif.
Make a list of what you fell in love with and another list of good things you've discovered over time. "Publicly brag about those amazing qualities your partner has," Campbell says. "Refrain from making him the brunt of a joke. Embrace his positive qualities and let him know you've fully got his back."
Do something crazy (or new).
One study found that couples who did novel and arousing things together felt better about their relationships than those who stuck with routine, mundane activities.
"It's amazing what getting out of your normal routine and pushing your comfort boundaries will do for your love life," says Sheri Meyers, PsyD. She's the author of Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship.
The trick is to pick something fun and exciting, not just pleasant. Ride a roller coaster. Visit a far-flung destination.
Another option is to get competitive, suggests Rachel DeAlto, a communication and relationship expert in Point Pleasant, N.J.
"When you're physically competing and experiencing new things together, those dopamine levels soar, which replicates those early butterflies and gets you excited," she says. Try one-on-one activities like tennis, racquetball, skiing, hiking, or fishing.
"So many couples hold back kissing, touching, or holding each other until they have time or the desire to have sex," says Meyers. But that's a mistake. Researchers have found that affectionate touch boosts the body's feel-good hormones.
Hug your partner. Hold hands. Be playful with touch.
"Whisper sweet and adoring things into your partner's ear. Brush against him in a sexually seductive way," says Meyers. "Affection is a way to make love all day outside of the bedroom."
Having fun during sex, instead of doing it for obligation's sake, can stoke the fires of your relationship. "Sex is the playground of a marriage," says Campbell. "Fun doesn't have to mean you have to engage in sexual acrobatics; it just means have fun."
Do you spend a lot of time trying read your partner’s mind? Limit the guess-work by being open and honest; it can bring you closer. "Ask your partner what he or she needs from you. Take turns. The goal is to show more and see more of each other, rather than defend the status quo," says Meyers. The rewards run deep. Great conversation often leads to more open, loving sex, she says.
Every discussion doesn't have to be serious. Lighthearted laughter goes a long way in lifting your spirits and reconnecting. Have fun. Crack a joke. Revel in the humor of a situation together. "There is nothing sexier than a smile and a happy partner," says Campbell.
Focus on you.
What fuels your passion? Maybe it's having an exciting career or training for a half marathon. No matter -- just get out and do it. When you love yourself and your life, you bring more energy and interest into your relationship.
"Independence and a sense of purpose are sexy," explains Campbell. When you take care of your own needs and pursue what you're passionate about, you become less predictable and more interesting to your partner.
It's a win-win situation. You'll be more confident and peaceful as you keep evolving, and your relationship will thrive.
Use your history.
Remember those things you did when you were romancing your new love? Make a list and do them again now, suggests Paul N. Weinberg. He is the co-author of The I Factor: Simple Insights for Connecting in Your Personal Relationships. "It could be as simple as a way you kissed your partner on the cheek or as elaborate as the effort you put into a special date."
Identify your relationship's strengths, then build on them, say Les Parrott, III, PhD, and Leslie Parrott, EdD, husband-and-wife founders of the Center for Relationship Development in Seattle. Know what works well in your relationship and do more of it.
Finally, dream big. Envision a future together than inspires you. Maybe it's a home bustling with a big family or vacations to new, exotic places. Whatever your dream, you can create a plan now to start making it happen.