How to get the spark back in your relationship
Romantic films would have us believe that living ‘happily ever after’ is all hearts and flowers, but it’s often easier said than done. With everyday pressures from careers, commitments and finances getting in the way of romance, it’s no surprise that many of us can feel the spark wane in a long-term relationship.
Here, we speak to relationship coach and counsellor, Juliette Smith, who reveals her top tips for getting the spark back between you and your partner.
How to get the spark back in your relationship
Why relationships change
Few things compare to the feeling of falling in love. From the trepidation of the first kiss to staying up all night sharing interests, discovering your new partner can be a whole lot of fun.
“At the beginning of a relationship, two separate and independent individuals begin an exciting journey of discovery by stepping into the unknown,” says Juliette. “There is energy for learning about this other person who is often like another world to us. They’re likely to introduce us to new activities and ways of seeing things, which is exciting.
“Over time though, what was separateness becomes connection and closeness. Connection, closeness, familiarity, and security can continue to feel good, but the spark will dim if we stop being curious and interested.
“It’s likely you’ll feel bored and unfulfilled in the relationship if you’ve stopped being interested in your partner. You may turn away from them and look elsewhere for ‘the spark’, whether it’s with another person, a hobby, a job or even a substance.”
Reconnect with your partner
Along with boredom, couples in long-term partnerships can encounter a number of challenges the longer they’re together. These can include (but aren’t limited to):
- Different life goals
- Difficult communication
- Unresolved issues from the past
- Disagreements about household tasks
- Different parenting styles
- Not feeling appreciated
- Not feeling heard
- Outside stresses such as work or finance
It’s little surprise that the spark can wane!
While it can be tempting to avoid these issues altogether, turning towards your partner is key. As Juliette explains, approaching your relationship – and any differences between you – with a sense of curiosity can help to get you back on the right track.
“You need to get back into the mindset of curiosity and discovery,” she says. “You might think you know your partner, but you don’t – not fully. Curiosity is the key to good communication, handling differences and avoiding painful conflict. It can also help with re-building connection and intimacy.”
Talk to your partner and ask questions. Understand what makes them tick and learn where they’re coming from. While it can be challenging – especially if there’s a difference of opinion – try to avoid arguing. Take the time to really listen to your partner and understand their viewpoint (even if you don’t agree with it).
“If you aim to discover, listen and understand your partner, you’ll find that any differences between you will feel less threatening,” explains Juliette. “Communication will improve, resentments will reduce and you’ll get back to feeling like a team, rather than adversaries.”
This new way of thinking and behaving may feel overwhelming initially, so start small. It might be simply asking what new songs your partner has been listening to on the radio, or if there are any films they want to see at the cinema and getting curious about why they like them. Over time, you may feel more confident to broach deeper – and potentially more controversial – subjects.
If communication does prove to be a sticking point, however, don’t panic. As Juliette explains, a relationship coach can help you to learn how to share what you’re feeling in a healthy way.
“A relationship coach or counsellor can help you learn how to communicate more effectively and connect more intimately,” she says. “This might be by helping you to express your needs, or to help you be curious without being judgmental, or to learn how to listen without feeling threatened or defensive.
“A neutral third party can see things in the dynamic between you more clearly and with a fresh pair of eyes. It can help with relighting the spark within and between you.”
Once communication is stronger and you realise that understanding the differences between you can actually bring you closer, you can begin to invite some new experiences into your lives. It might be having conversations about the meaning of life, discussing new activities you’d both mutually like to try, or planning a trip you want to take together.
Over time, you may notice that spark begin to flicker back to life.