Newsflash: It's perfectly normal for passion to decline in long-term relationships.
If the flush of excitement you felt when you were first together starts to fade, you might begin to fret that something is wrong with your relationship and feel frustrated by your humdrum life together. Don't worry, you're not alone! For most couples, the hot desire, desperate longing, and ever-present passion they felt at the beginning of their courtship—and even well into the first months and years of their relationship—usually decrease in intensity over time.
Fortunately, in a good relationship love itself doesn't decrease. In fact, my research has found that the nature of the love changes, but the amount of love doesn't decline. After a few years with couples, love changes into a new kind of love, called companionate love, which is characterized by the emotions of intimacy and friendship. My long-term study showed that companionate love actually increased over time for happy couples. And here's another piece of good news: You can also get the passion back, and I'm going to show you how. 5 Ways to Keep Your Love Alive
There are two reasons relationships hit what I call a "happiness plateau." The first reason is that people fall into a relationship rut. Relationship ruts are very common, but if you allow them to persist and deepen, they can be hazardous to the health of your partnership.
Among the couples in my study, staying in a relationship rut was predictive of future unhappiness on the part of one or both partners. The second reason couples get into a funk is when they let passion and sexuality fade. What's so interesting about passion and sexuality is that you really need both to maintain happiness. A key finding from my study is that men tend to get emotional connection (a component of passionate love) through sex, while women tend to need emotional connection (passion) to have sex. Therefore, you need to reinvigorate both the passion and the sex for both partners to feel fulfilled.
Both issues—relationship ruts and cooled-down passion/sex—are easy to resolve by making small changes in your behavior. The key is to introduce freshness into your partnership, to liven things up, and to reintroduce fun, excitement, and surprise. You need to inject a little bit of fire and mystery into your life! By following the five simple strategies below and implementing the three action steps I recommend, you and your partner will remember why you chose each other in the first place.
Strategy #1: Slow down.
What do I mean by slowing down? Each of you is busy rushing around with work, family, and social obligations. You probably figure your relationship can just wait in the background while you're zooming about trying to get everything else done. But in reality, you need to take the time to pause and look at what's happening to your relationship right now. Notice what your partner is doing today and how your partner contributes to your life. Notice what he or she is wearing. Find out something about his or her day that you didn't know before. Slow down.
To really make this advice work, you need to follow these action steps to complete today's challenge.
Right now, I want you to:
Tonight before bed, talk about sex. Ask your partner how it's going. Ask your partner what turns him or her on. Talking about sex generally leads to sex!
Within 7 days I want you to:
Knock your partner gently off balance. The action doesn't have to be big; it just has to upset the routine. For example, if you usually watch TV after dinner, take a walk instead. Watch what happens. Simple disturbances like this freshen up both of your feelings.
By the end of the challenge I want you to:
Change the place and situation for your lovemaking. Invite your partner to bed during your lunch hour. Or throw a blanket onto the living room floor. Couples are amazed at how effective this little trick is at shaking things up.