By Martin Kupper
Many of us spend an enormous amount of time and energy in finding a love relationship. That can still be the case as we age. Whether we meet through friends, family, common interests, religion, online or by happenstance, the quest to find “the one” consumes many anxious encounters with those who turn out to be “not the one.”
Or maybe you found the right person long ago and are now looking to ignite a new spark in a decades-long marriage. Or you’re caught in a romantic transition and feel lost. People who have been in very long-term relationships and now find themselves new to the dating world might need a little help figuring out what to focus on in a new relationship.
It’s easy to give up on love, especially amid COVID-19’s obstacles, which have strained all of our relationships this past year. Financial pressures and family dynamics can overwhelm everything else, and ordering food in and watching the latest Netflix show might seem easier than working on your current relationship or finding a new one. And seniors might feel especially cowed by the process.
But try to remember those butterflies early in a relationship when “everything” was vibrant, exciting and you simply couldn’t wait until the next time you could see your partner. You can have that again.
Relationship experts point to a variety of reasons that long-term couples grow apart: narcissism, unresolved arguments, infidelity and not making your relationship a priority. But there are things you can do to find your way through this morass.
Trying new experiences together invigorates, connects and bonds couples while deepening their relationship, according to Dr. Arthur Aron, professor of psychology at Stony Brook University in New York. That’s true no matter what stage of the relationship you’re at.
Here are six tips to increase connection, passion and romance in your relationship, whether it’s new or decades in the making.
Create a morning ritual
This can be as simple as alternating tasks, with one partner making coffee, tea or another favorite morning beverage while the other makes the bed. It’s truly the little things we do for ourselves and our partners on a regular basis that make the most profound impact on our relationship. Writing and hiding little love notes for your partner to find during the day is another ritual that can be done easily. Or just send a fun playful text.
You may also consider taking a few moments before jumping out of bed to read a daily meditation to start your day. Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening” has 365 daily contemplations to consider while going about your day.
Speak your partner’s love language
This is one of the easiest and most powerful things a couple can do to directly impact and enhance their relationship. Check out Gary Chapman’s 5lovelanguages.com and take the quiz with your partner to discover your love language. If you already know it and have been in a relationship for more than one year, take it again with your partner and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn how the order of the languages may have shifted. Be sure to do one thing each day that speaks to your partner’s primary love language.
Make a deposit into your love bank account
When you do something nice for your partner or go out of your way to make them feel special, you’re making a “deposit” into your “love bank account.” Conversely, when something negative occurs in your relationship you are making a “withdrawal” from the account. You get the idea.
It’s the small things we do on a daily basis that truly make a difference in strengthening our connection and bond. When you make daily deposits in the love account, it’s like having an insurance policy for a failproof relationship that stands the test of time.
Celebrate your love
My partner and I celebrate the anniversary of the day we met each and every month. We acknowledge the commitment to our relationship in various ways but always on the 14th of every month. Even if we are apart, we send a note, flowers or a small gift. We usually go out to dinner or have a romantic dinner at home.
“How you do the little things is how you do the big things,” said Tony Robbins, a motivational guru. Make your relationship a priority and do the little things on a regular basis. Watch your love blossom and bloom over and over again.
Have a spiritual practice
In Judaism, we practice tikkun olam — repairing the world. Our faith places an emphasis on this special idea, and with our partners we can identify projects close to home that can make a resounding impact on those less fortunate. Relationships thrive when you deepen a spiritual connection with your partner as well.
Hello and goodbye
When my partner and I first moved in together, we noticed a difference in how we greeted each other. Prior to living together, we were always so excited to see each other that we always embraced and gave each other a kiss. When we said goodbye, it was the same — as if we might never see each other again. After living together for about a month, we noticed a pattern of coming and going without even saying hello or goodbye. Once aware of this, we made a conscious effort to take the time when we leave or return to give each other a heartfelt hug and kiss.
Take the time, energy and effort to overflow your love bank account with more deposits than withdrawals by being present in your relationship, prioritizing it and integrating these six tips. It’s guaranteed to make you the happiest couple you know.
Martin Kupper is a Phoenix-based coach, consultant and co-founder of Surprise Date Challenge. His latest book is “Surprise Date Challenge: Home Edition,” which he wrote with his partner, Dana Lam.