9 Things That Keep A Relationship Alive
As told by a sex and relationship therapist
As a sex therapist, I'm used to seeing couples who've lost touch. Couples who have forgotten why they fell in love or why they used to love having sex with other another. Being trained in sexology and psychotherapy, I know all about the different things that keep a relationship alive.
If you're looking for ways to put the spark back into your marriage or relationship - the following 9 things will help you get there.
1. Learn How To Fight Properly
Conflicts. We all have them. Even in the best of relationships, our tempers get the best of us, causing us to lash out or make a not-so-nice remark.
I get it - arguing about the laundry for the 58th time this week isn't exactly thrilling (at least not in a positive way!).
But fighting is inevitable.
According to researchers John & Julie Gottman, there are solvable arguments and unsolvable ones - and the unsolvable ones amount to 69% of all of our conflicts.
What this means is we have to learn how to fight properly. Being able to deal with our own irritation and anger and knowing how to handle our partner is paramount to relationship success.
By learning how to accept our differences and let pettiness go, by learning how to negotiate and work together as a team, by finding ways of dealing with the unsolvable arguments - we're far more likely to stay together and grow together.
2. Reminisce About That Memory
If we're lucky, there are a few sexual moments we've shared with our partners that really stand out. One of the things that keep a relationship alive is reminiscing about them - together.
When your sexual desire is waning it usually needs a push in the right direction to appear. For many, especially those who identify as women, sexual desire is a responsive feeling, meaning that it, much like our other feelings, needs to be triggered in order to come alive.
By talking about a sexual experience from the past you're giving your mind and your body a chance to remember how enjoyable sex was.
3. Don't Believe You Know Your Partner
When you've been together for a long time it's common to fall into the trap of thinking you know everything about the other person.
You know they love brie but hate camembert, that they're afraid of spiders but pretend they're not.
You also know they prefer having sex with the lights turned off and think sexting is stupid or embarrassing.
Or - do you?
A lot of times you might think you know exactly what your partner's thoughts and needs are - but, if you ask your partner, you might just find that you don't. Not always.
Over the course of a relationship, most of us change our minds about stuff or discover something new. It doesn't have to be big or life changing, but it happens and it matters.
By giving your partner the benefit of the doubt and asking them instead of assuming, you'll be cultivating interest in one another and you'll ignite that flame.
4. Lean On Someone Else
Our partner can be our biggest supporter and our biggest comfort, but they shouldn't be our only support and comfort.
We might not mean to do it, but in good relationships we often end up turning our partner or spouse into our therapist.
Relying solely on your partner can quickly zap the romance out of your relationship or marriage.
If this sounds like you and you're looking for things to keep a relationship alive, try seeking comfort in a friend, co-worker or family member next time you need a shoulder to cry on. It might just be what you and your partner need to get back on track!
5. Don't Believe Passion Decay Is Irreversible
Long relationships usually equal waning passion. But according to research on the matter by Finkell & Carswell, how we think about this phenomenon affects what happens in our relationship.
The researchers mean that those who believe in inevitable and irreversible passion decay in long-term relationships, are more likely to show less commitment in their current relationship and seek romance outside of it.
However, understanding that passion decay isn't irreversible can lead to us staying in an otherwise good relationship and marriage.
In other words - if you're looking for things that keep a relationship alive - believing you can regain the feelings of passion you once shared is definitely one to work on.
6. Plan A Surprise
When we've been together for a while our relationships can go a little stale. The daily grind can really wear it down. If this sounds like you, you might want to try planning a surprise for your loved one.
By planning a surprise for your partner you're letting them know they're still a top priority. You're showing them you care and you love them.
Planning a surprise for your partner or spouse doesn't have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as ordering takeout from their favourite restaurant, giving them a massage after a long, grueling day at the office, or initiating sex in the way you know they love.
Things that keep a relationship alive don't have to be difficult - they just need to be done. Take turns surprising one another and see what it does for your relationship.
7. Go See A Sex Therapist When Things Are Good
As most couples therapists will tell you - a large portion of clients start therapy when it's too late.
When things have escalated and are irreparable.
When their relationship has been on the rocks for years.
By going to therapy before things get really bad, you'll be in a much better position to learn the skills needed to enhance your relationship and to actually use the tools we give you.
If you really want to be proactive about it, seeing a couples therapist who specializes in sex therapy is a great idea.
Sex is often difficult to talk about and when we've been together for a long time, our sex drive tends to dwindle. By seeing a sex therapist together you can learn how to explore each other's sexuality and keep growing sexually - together.
8. Ban Orgasms
Sex can be a wonderful experience, be it with orgasms or without them. However, society often makes us feel like we need to have an orgasm in order for our sex lives to be "successful".
Not only is this not true, it's also pretty stressful and sort of misses the mark. Sex isn't about the goal - it's about the journey.
By introducing a playful orgasm ban you can help keep the flame of desire going (or awaken it!). Enforcing this type of rule helps you get creative and our libido thrives on novelty.
9. Talk, Talk And Then Talk Some More
Communication in the relationship is crucial. Despite most of us knowing this, amidst the long to-do lists and emails at work, we often forget to communicate.
Perhaps we buckle down and stop telling our partner what's going on.
We forget to ask them how they're feeling or what they're thinking.
We take our relationship and our partner for granted - without ever meaning to.
In order to sustain intimacy and cultivate passion it's important to the conversation going. As we already established in tip no. 3, continuing to show interest in your partner by not assuming you always know what they're thinking, is one of the things that keep a relationship alive.
By talking about your hopes, dreams, fears and worries, you'll be increasing intimacy and sustaining it too.
There are lots of things that keep a relationship alive; and it's important you believe you can get that passion back - if you want to.
Learning how to deal with conflict, talking about positive sexual memories, cultivating interest in one another, leaning on others in times of need, believing you can get that passion back, surprising each other, seeing a sex therapist, banning orgasms during sex, and talking, are all excellent ways of doing it.
By using the tips outlined in this article, you'll be well on your way to a relationship back in swing!
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and writer with a Master of Science in Sexology. She's been featured in Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Babe, The Tab, Glamour, Sexography, and The Minds Journal. For more tips on sex and relationships, free resources and more, visit her website.
Originally published at https://www.therapybyleigh.com on March 24, 2020.