Make it clear to family and friends—and especially to each other—that your relationship as a couple is the most important relationship in your life.
Don’t Take Your Long-Term Relationship for Granted
"The mistake most couples or one person makes is they're so much in love with their partner that they assume the relationship will last forever," says Robert Billingham, an associate professor in Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Applied Health Science. "They don't think it is something they have to work on."
From a biological standpoint, human beings are not built for long-term romance, according to Billingham, whose research interests include interpersonal relationships, parent/child interactions and the long-term effect of divorce on children.
Biologically, the body chemistry that makes our hearts flutter during a new relationship is replaced after several years with body chemistry geared more toward attachment, he says.
Couples, therefore, need to work at keeping romance alive in long-term relationships.
Make Time for Romance…It’s Good for Your Health
Billingham says research indicates that people who divorce experience poorer health and a diminished quality of life, so longevity and overall happiness are additional reasons for keeping romance alive with the right partner.
Finding time for romance is crucial to a marriage or committed long-term relationship, and it shouldn't be limited to anniversaries, Valentine's Day or other special occasions.
5 Tips for Rekindling Romance in Your Long-Term Relationship
Billingham offers the following tips for couples who want to rekindle the romance and improve a long-term relationship:
- Date Your Spouse or Partner
Find ways to spend time together and enjoy each other.
"Individuals change. The relationship changes," Billingham says. "This core behavior (regular dating, emphasizing the relationship) says, 'No matter what happens, we find time for ourselves, find time to celebrate the relationship.’"
Want some ideas to get started? See 10 First Date Ideas.
- Make Sure Your Children See Your Love for Each Other
Parents spend 18 to 20 years preparing their children to leave home, and parenting requires sacrifices to properly care for children. But investments in a long-term relationship as a couple can benefit parents and kids alike, and make the "empty nest" seem not quite so empty after the children leave home.
"If the kids don't see an emphasis on the relationship, what we model is that the marriage isn't as important as work, sports or other activities, Billingham says. “When they do see the emphasis, what we're modeling is that the marriage, the committed relationship is important.
“[Emphasizing the long-term relationship] is crucial because we need to teach our children that our relationships are more important than things like work, movies and sports. We do a very poor job of this in our society."
- Start Today
It's never too late to rekindle love and romance in a stale long-term relationship, Billingham says. Start from where you are, and begin doing things together that emphasize and celebrate your relationship as a couple.
- Should You Quit or Recommit?
Obviously, rekindling romance is much more difficult if one of the partners has fallen in love with someone else and is experiencing a new surge of attraction hormones that is pulling them away from their core relationship.
It really comes down to conscious choice and commitment. If both people in the relationship can honestly say "I want to get this back on track," then there's hope.
- Sex and Romance
Sex and romance can make life and your long-term relationship as a couple more pleasant and rewarding. Couples who are healthy, and who can sustain an active sex life, tend to live longer and be happier, Billingham says.
Source: The Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University Bloomington School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.