True love was something Desmond and Sevilla never questioned. They had it. They had felt grateful and blessed for seven years since the day they met at a bicycle auction in upstate New York. They’d married at the top of a ski mountain the following winter where their wedding party skied or snowboarded down to the reception in the base lodge. It was an event everyone who was there would remember forever. Especially because of how happy and crazy for each other the couple was.
So why did they come find me?
Well, they hit that spot that so many couples do, where the love, though still there, is not enough on its own to carry the relationship. Sevilla and Desmond had a child and one on the way, fairly demanding careers, a mortgage. Sound familiar? Desmond’s mom was sick back in Michigan and the strains and stresses were mounting. They both realized their relationship was taking a serious hit and it panicked them. They were not willing to let it slip further, so they sought marriage counseling, and their therapist, after a few months, suggested they seek me out. I was able to give them practical steps to rekindle and deepen their bond—through what I call “inspired action.”
I want to focus on how you can reconnect and find inspiration once again in your relationship. The so-called “honeymoon” stage of a relationship does not have to end. If you are willing to take a little “inspired action,” it never has to.
There are folks who instinctively know how to do some or all of the things on this list below. They are probably the 98-year-old couples you see holding hands at family reunions or the subjects of awesome Facebook memes of elderly people still in love after 65 years.
Here are a few tips to keep your relationship joyful, meaningful, strong, and inspired:
Envisioning. This is not a new idea. Prayer has been around for millennia, and in many ways that is a form of envisioning what you want, best outcomes, ideal scenarios. To make envisioning work, feel that deep connection between you and your loved one—wide open—just as it was and can be again. Use past experiences to remind you what that can look like, but then dream even bigger and aim even higher. Spiritual bonds, tons of laughter, great sex, deep conversation, playfulness, empathy, all of it—envision it.
Prioritizing. The relationship, that is—not work, the football game, or the newest Amy Poehler movie. As important as those things are—acknowledge that they are not and can never be as important as your relationship. Even your children, if you have them, need to make way for you two to strengthen and enrich your relationship. Their happiness depends on it too!
Talking and listening. This is huge. And I don’t mean in the kitchen as one of you comes home from work and the other rushes out to a meeting and you quickly explain what’s for dinner, when you’ll be home, and that the exterminator-never-came-today-let’s-call-them-tomorrow. Make time to attentively talk and listen to one another—uninterrupted. Even if it’s in bed at night before sleep—if that’s your time, stay awake and do it!
Dating. Yes—going out on dates. Setting the time aside and doing something just together. Family time and outings with the kids are super important and fun and beautiful but they don’t count as dating. If money is an issue, you don’t need to go out for dinner, to the theater, or hang gliding in the Azores. You can just go for a walk or hike, visit a museum and hold hands through the exhibits, or fly a kite in the park like two kids in love (that’s what you are, right?).
Having sex. My clients will say, “We shouldn’t have to schedule sex. It should just happen.” But let’s be real here. That strategy does not always work. There is nothing wrong or unromantic about saying, with a kiss and a nuzzle, “Hey, let’s meet up in that big fluffy bed later for some special time.” You can spend the rest of the day looking forward to it, and you will ensure that the connection happens. And it is a very important connection. Sex won’t create attachment but it will enhance and cement it. It will also ensure the passion stays alight in your relationship.
Finally, think about the day-to-day things, small and not-so-small, that you can do to affirm your attachment and remind yourselves how much you cherish the relationship and each other.
- Play “your” song in the middle of a Saturday afternoon and grab him/her for a dance.
- Light candles. Anytime. Anywhere.
- Look at old photos together. Don’t just talk about it. Go find them. Grab your mate and sit down on the couch together and laugh and reminisce over old times.
- Play the game of “remember when” and take turns sharing (in vivid detail, mind you) a story of a memorable moment in your lives together. The first time you made love. That amazing trip to Istanbul/Niagara Falls/Mount Rushmore/your grandma’s farm. The time you were the only couple on the dance floor at that bar in Tulsa. Sharing memories reinforces your connection.
- Tell and show one another how much appreciation, trust, respect, and love you feel. We can so easily forget to do this. But don’t.
Inspired love is in the action. No matter how perfect and intense and epic the journey was and is—the wind can die down and the sails of even the greatest love can sag. Don’t let it. When the wind dies, start the engine!
Let’s make “honeymoon stage” a misnomer. Let’s just call it “inspired relationship” and ensure that it lasts forever!