9 Secrets to Keeping the Spark in Your Relationship, Even When You Live Together
There's something every couple should do between the sheets to stay connected, and it's not what you think. Going to sleep at the same time creates more opportunity to cuddle, says Jan Hoistad, Ph.D., relationship coach and author of Romance Rehab: 10 Steps to Rescue Your Relationship. She encourages couples to cuddle for five to 10 minutes every morning and night. "The goal is not sex but affection and emotional connection," she says. "You may or may not talk, but being physically close strengthens the connection between you."
Don't Stop Dating
Remember your first date? How about your 73rd? Between the initial infatuation and the long-term commitment, there's often a dating drought. "Think about things you did during courtship and continue that," says Hoistad. "Couples who are together for a long time tend to take one another for granted and forget to appreciate one another."
You'll inevitably argue with your man, but you should be smart about voicing your disagreement. Hoistad says to consider timing before launching into a full-blown discussion. "It's important to remember that not everything needs to be addressed immediately. Talking is extremely important, but it's also important to speak with your partner just as compassionately or kindly as you would speak with a colleague or friend."
Recharge Your Sex Life
If your lingerie has been collecting dust for as long as your can remember, Hoistad offers this suggestion: "Have sex more often! Initiate sex on a regular basis so your man feels attractive and desirable. Men have just as much of a need to feel they are good-looking and desired as women." Whether it's satin sheets or a hot-and-heavy make-out session, make it playful and you'll be back on top in no time.
You don't need to sync your BlackBerries (although it's not a bad idea), but make an effort to reserve time for each other-whether it's a concert, a movie or even cooking dinner. "In this day and age, there is nothing like scheduling time-even if it's for sex," says Hoistad. "When a couple's schedules are full and don't mesh for time together, they risk disconnecting unless they make the time."
For Amy, 30, from L.A., and her fiancé, that means planning weekend itineraries. "He'll send me cute ideas for things to do and the 'times' for each activity. It's not meant to be taken too seriously, but it's fun to look forward to activities, as opposed to just lying around, watching TV and losing out on the weekend together."
Bond in the Bathroom
"A bathroom can be a very intimate and sensual space," says Hoistad. Instead of competing for the sink and mirror, try to appreciate the other person's routine and add a little spice to yours. "Wear cute undies while putting on your makeup and chat with him while he shaves," she says.
Change the Scenery
Sometimes it's healthy for both of you to get out of your comfort zone. "We decide we know our partners, but changing the scenario-whether it's traveling abroad or introducing them to new friends-helps you to see each other in a different context," says Hannah Seligson, author of A Little Bit Married: How to Know When It's Time to Walk Down the Aisle or Out the Door. Even if you've watched your significant other do everything from scramble eggs to run a marathon, it's important to view him in new circumstances. By granting each other the room to grow and change, you'll be surprised at how much the relationship evolves, too.
Keep Him Guessing
"Surprise him every so often-whether it's a silly card, sexy lingerie or his favorite dessert," says Kristina, 29. These small gestures can leave a big impact, especially when you're way past the infatuation stage.
Splurge on Yourself
Any couple who have been together beyond the six-month mark know the language of "we": "We" need to run errands. "We" have a double date on Saturday night. "We" really should clean the apartment soon. It's far too easy to think of everything as a dual activity, but don't forget to pay attention to yourself. In fact, indulging yourself can have a positive effect on the relationship. "Put yourself first sometimes," says Hoistad. "When women take time for themselves and pamper themselves a bit, it brings out their femininity. Do it for yourself, and if he's tuned in to you and the relationship, he'll notice."