Bring back passion and sparks to your love.
Julia is bored. She's worked at the same job for 10 years now. She's lived in the same town for almost her entire life. She's dated the same guy for 5 years.
Sure, she loves her boyfriend, Dave, and she doesn't want to break up with him. But, she misses those early days of their relationship when everything was a fabulous and delightful surprise.
Dave used to show up at her office and "kidnap" her for an extended lunch break that often included heavy make-out sessions in his car.
When they first started dating, Julia and Dave couldn't get enough of one another. They were always texting, e-mailing or spending time doing fun and passionate things together.
"What happened to those days?" Julia wonders.
Pretty soon, she and Dave might get married and continue this content — but passionless — drudge through life together.
This is a depressing scenario that far too many couples go through.
In the early days of many relationships, there are passionate kisses, romance, and more. Then, as the two people settle into a commitment to one another, some of the excitement wears down.
There can be a dwindling of passion that might be considered natural, normal and "just the way things are" when it comes to relationships.
In some cases, this boredom can combine with other disconnecting habits to lead to cheating and/or a breakup.
We've said it before and we'll say it again. It doesn't have to be this way. We don't care how long you and your partner have been together. The passion and sheer excitement of being together do NOT have to die away.
Here are 4 ways to spark up your relationship or marriage:
1. Remember (or discover) what makes you feel alive and excited.
Renewed passion starts with you. If you're feeling bored with your relationship, it's probable that you're also bored in other areas of your life.
Don't make your satisfaction with life your partner's responsibility. This isn't fair to him or her AND it's really impossible for anyone other than you to determine your ability to feel fully alive and excited.
This means, if your relationship seems dull to you, look within yourself first. Look at your life as a whole and invite yourself to live more fully. Take wise risks and step "outside of your box."
This could happen at work, with your interests and activities, with your appearance or in some other aspect of your life.
Remember what used to make your heart sing and ask yourself if you'd like to do that again. If you've not yet discovered what helps you feel more vibrant and excited, perhaps it's time to do some exploring.
As long as you're clear with your partner that you're not planning to leave the relationship and that you still love him or her, these changes that you're making on a personal level can spill over in positive ways to your relationship.
2. Learn how to really listen to your partner.
Quite often, relationships get into trouble when one or both people feel like they aren't getting their needs met. There may be a belief that the other person is either unwilling or unable to give what is desired.
The sad thing about this dynamic is that it's usually not a case of one person being unwilling or unable to meet a need, it's that that need itself is either unknown or misunderstood.
Dull and lifeless relationships are frequently caused by poor communication habits.
Pay closer attention to how you and your partner talk to one another. Are you both usually multi-tasking, distracted or overwhelmed? Do either or both of you have a habit of interrupting or assuming that you already know what the other person wants and needs?
Without blame or criticism, notice how you two communicate and be sure to notice it when you don't seem to be hearing each other.
If, like many couples, you realize that your communication habits could use some improvement, start with your own tendencies. Make sure you are literally listening to what your partner has to say.
Even if it seems mundane and unimportant, listen closely. If you are busy, ask your partner to give you a few minutes to reach a stopping or pausing point after which you will listen in a more engaged way.
The magic of really listening to your partner is that you can better know what it is he or she enjoys or would like right now and, as a result, you two can move closer together.
Moments of connection can more easily occur — this includes passionate connection too.
3. Follow through in expected and unexpected ways.
There are no bigger passion-killers in a relationship than broken promises, mistrust, and unreliability. As boring as following through might seem to be, it's an essential ingredient to relationship spark.
When you and your partner make an agreement, be sure that it is clearly understood by both of you and that you both have fully and honestly said "Yes."
We've all probably been in situations when we agreed to someone else's request just to get him or her off our back or to prevent an argument.
Be sure to follow through on all of the agreements you make with your partner. Let him or her know you can be counted on. You can actually make this a passion-supporting practice when you do what's expected and then go beyond that.
For example, if you've agreed to take out the trash. Do it and then tackle the mess in the garage as well. Going above and beyond your agreements in positive ways can set the stage for more appreciation and more excitement too.
4. Keep growing as a couple.
Don't assume that just because your partner used to be a certain way or used to like a particular way of living, this is the way it still is and always will be. The fact of the matter is that all of us are always changing and growing.
When you embrace this fact and make it your intention to grow as a couple, a phenomenal relationship can emerge.
Be willing to try new ways to be together. These might involve exploring new interests and activities together and also new and different ways to be intimate and sexual with one another.
Make suggestions and keep the lines of communication open so that you can take this journey together.
When you find something that really lights you two up, keep doing it. Stay open and have fun!
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the passionate relationships they desire. For more relationship advice and information, visit Relationship Gold.