You two lock eyes and the chemistry is undeniable. She’s exactly what you’ve been missing and he couldn’t be more perfect for you if he tried. You grow close, eventually becoming inseparable. So much to the point that your friends refer to you as your own type of “Kimye.” This is going to last forever. But it isn’t. The flame that once was is all a distant memory now. When she comes in from work, she heads straight to the kitchen and you don’t even budge. Hell, she’s lucky if you even glance away from the TV screen to greet her from a hard day’s work. You still love each other, but the passion is almost non-existent. Life has damn near extinguished it. This is what happens when you’ve been together for awhile and that’s just how things are. No the hell it isn’t and it doesn’t have to be.
One of the most common misconceptions about relationships is that they will be effortless once you find the right person. This entire other being is just supposed to know what to do to make you happy and be up for the challenge at all times. The only “work” would be finding the one whom you’re supposed to be with. This type of thinking is why people leave too soon. Everything takes work, and in order for a relationship to maintain its youthfulness you have to invest more than time, years and commitment on paper. Here are seven keys to resuscitate your love life.
1. Find One Thing That You Appreciate About Your Mate & Show Them Why
One day my mom came in with some stir fry for dinner when I was living with my parents a few years back. I told her how good it was and guess what? She went and bought six more bags of that stir fry. While I was thankful for her thoughtfulness and attention to detail, I was stir-fried out! In love, positive reinforcement works much like the above example. When you actively show appreciation for your mate and his or her actions, it makes them want to do more of whatever it is that you enjoy about them. Find one thing about your significant other that you like and don't just tell them, but show them. Return the favor by doing something for them that they will enjoy. By doing so, you increase the likelihood of them continuing to exemplify actions and behaviors that make you happy. Your reciprocity also fosters a level of intimacy that might be missing at this stage in the relationship.
2. Verbalize When Things Seem to be Going Downhill
More than likely, one of you will notice that you’re not spending as much time together anymore. Speak up! Staying silent when you feel like things are going wayward is one of the most damaging things you can do for your relationship. Your mate is the one person who you should be able to be raw and authentic with. If you notice that you haven’t had sex in months, the only way to find out what is going on is to say something. By verbalizing differences in your relationship that are unappealing, you are allowing yourself the opportunity to rectify the situation before it enters irreparable territory.
3. Kiss, Often
I'm not exactly sure why this happens, but once you are well into a relationship it seems like the kissing slows down, and that’s IF it doesn’t disappear altogether. You walk out the door as you're headed to work and all you do is wave to your man/woman on the couch. The last time that I checked, kissing was a phenomenal thing! Yes, sex is a way to ultimately connect physically, but it can be mechanical. Kissing, on the other hand, is a very intimate act. If you're in a rush, a simple peck before heading to that meeting can do wonders. Just make out on the couch one day, or while slow dancing on the dance floor. These types of moments remind us why we fell in love. Never allow the pressures of life to steal them away.
4. Be Silly Together
Even the most uptight people enjoy a good laugh. Never allow humor to escape your relationship. Be comfortable enough to laugh with and at each other. Laughter is like sports. It has the ability to unify the most diverse people. Plus, most people choose their mates because they make them laugh. So get silly with it or it was never real to begin with.
5. Travel As Much As You Can, Even If It’s Just to the Grocery Store
A trip to the grocery store isn't necessarily one's idea of a romantic getaway, but my point is that you should spend time doing things together outside of the home. Make it a point to consistently engage with each other in a way that promotes intimacy. Go out to an impromptu dinner or visit that art exhibit that you've been putting off. Experiencing an outing together allows you to remember why you're a team, and inserts a bit of fun into the redundancy of your love life.
6. Have sex, often
Some folks have to remember to make love. If you're a couple that has to put your once a week sex romp on the calendar, so be it. Just get it done! It's necessary, and if practiced consistently enough, you’ll soon be able to forgo the schedule and get back to how things used to be. People in general are more drawn to those who bring them pleasure inside and outside of the bedroom. Sex not only brings you closer to your mate, but obviously, it feels good. But if you're unable to have sex due to medical conditions, illness, etc., it is very critical that you take heed to the other suggestions I outlined.
7. Just Be
Spend time together doing nothing. Simply live in the moment and place space between things, people and tasks. Allow yourself not to be reminded of time. It may seem impossible with life happening, and it will be unless you make time to simply enjoy one another’s energy. Drop the kids off at a family member’s house and turn off that work email. You must BE together. Do not worry about the future or errands that need to be run. Nothing matters except for you two, so make it feel that way as much as you can as often as you can.
What I’m suggesting isn’t mind-blowing, but often, we just simply need to be reminded of how helpful simple practices can be. The behaviors listed above have one purpose. And that’s to get you to remember why you fell in love and chose to stay there. Love for your mate will inevitably evolve, but it doesn't have to die.
Shantell E. Jamison is a Chicago-based writer, radio personality, and cultural critic. She’s also JET magazine’s Digital Content Editor. She’s been featured on WBEZ 91.5FM, The Monique Caradine Show, Vocalo 91.1FM, KDKA Newsradio 1020AM, WBGX 1570AM, WYCA 102.3FM, Chicago Now, The Grio, The Black Youth Project, The Gate Newspaper and Launching Chicago with Lenny McAllister. Her debut book, Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self, is available now at Amazon.com.