Over the last 15 years of working with people on their relationships full-time, one of the most common sets of questions I get is around ‘How do I bring the spark back to my relationship that sometimes feels like we’re just roommates with responsibilities?
And this is a valid question.
As the monotony of life sets in (endless chores, meal preparation, taking care of kids), it’s understandable that the resources that once went to the relationship are now spread thin, and beginning to feel threadbare.
So how do we counteract this phenomenon?
How do you bring back the charge… the spark… the butterflies from the early days?
Here are a few tools that I have passed on to my clients, to great success.
Different ones will apply to you, depending on where you are in your situation. So feel free to mix and match as you see fit.
1. Start taking more space (in this specific way)
Nothing suffocates the spark in a relationship faster than constant togetherness.
Add roles and responsibilities on top of 24/7 closeness and of course you feel like roommates.
If you spend all of your waking hours around each other, this is something to begin shifting immediately.
If you always work out together, stop. Start working out separately.
If one or both of you is self-employed or works from home and so you barely get any alone time, counteract this. Work out of the home, or agree that you won’t see each other between the hours of 9am-5pm.
Or, if the only daylight hours you have together are spent getting the kids ready for school and then fed once they’re home, it’s no wonder the spark is struggling.
One of the biggest ways you can inject a spike of eroticism into the relationship is to have one of you take a solo vacation – and making sure that the thing that that vacation-er is doing is something that enlivens them. More on this in point #4.
For example, I’ve mentioned being in a men’s group for most of the last 8 years. Well, one of the most charged times that my wife and I experience is when I go off on a 3-day men’s weekend with anywhere from 20-100 other men.
I’m away for three days (giving Demetra space) while simultaneously charging myself up with the solar energy of exclusively being with men.
That’s a deeper reset, and always fuels our fire. On a micro level example, me simply going out into our backyard and chopping firewood for an hour also has a similar effect.
But if you really want to supercharge this, take regular solo vacations. Consider it a polarity pause… or relationship reset. The time, energy, and money you invest in having solo vacations will move tons of energy for your relationship.
2. Go on dates (but talk about this instead)
Many long-term/married couples go on dates… but they go on dates in ways that don’t add to their relationship’s spark.
They go to the same spot, order pretty much the same things, and then they talk about chores, the kids, and their stressors.
I say, ‘No more!’
If you want to supercharge your date nights, do the following.
First, get ready separately. So separately that you don’t see each other at all.
Also, dress/groom/put effort into your appearance like this is the most important first date of your entire life. Show up fully.
Next, decide on somewhere new to go. Whether or not you love it as much as your regular spot, it doesn’t matter. Newness is the point.
After that, travel to your date separately. If you live together and only own one car, then one of you should take a cab, and the other person can drive.
Again, we’re adding more space to your togetherness. Also, these steps are reminiscent of your early dating experiences when you naturally prepared for your dates apart, and took care of your own travel to get there.
Then, when you’re on your date, don’t talk about the mundane, usual stuff. Leave discussions about the kids, still-needed home renovations, or stressors for another time.
Now, it would be silly to ask first date questions like, ‘Do you have any siblings/pets/favorite hobbies?’ You’re not looking to role-play as if you don’t know each other.
So what should you talk about on these dates?
Your dreams. Your fears. Your shared vision for your life. What has you feeling alive lately. What you’re fascinated by. What you’re curious about. Things that you appreciate about each other. The most recent moment that gave you goosebumps. Something that made you tear up recently.
Talk about the deeper content of your heart that doesn’t get as much air-time when you’re racing around the home just trying to get through the day.
Engage with date nights from this place of refreshed newness and novelty, and you’ll certainly notice a shift day to day.
3. Change your bedtime routine
One low-hanging fruit way to inject more aliveness into your relationship is to shift the way that you go to bed.
Many couples go to bed with a bedroom-based-TV playing (if you have a bedroom in your TV, please remove it), or read next to each other. Or worse, they go to bed, say nothing other than a quick ‘Goodnight’, lights out, and then snoring.
Since the little things we do regularly end up making up a large percentage of what our relationship is, there is much room for improvement here.
Instead of going to bed in a highly disconnected way, try some (or all) of the following.
First, go to bed naked. If you’re used to going to bed in full-body pajamas, this is something to shift. Both for your relationship, and for the health benefits (sleeping naked is better for you).
Going to bed naked also allows you to touch and cuddle in a way that is more bonding.
While going to bed naked (with the TV off/without being distracted by books), you can then use your words to amplify your connection.
Take turns stating 10 things you’re grateful for (either about life in general, or about things that your partner did that day).
The more we hear the secret thoughts of our partner’s inner world, the more opportunities we get to experience a sense of awe for them.
And if you engage with this practice on a nightly basis, that’s 70 opportunities for you to be surprised by something that they appreciated/picked up on through your days.
4. Audit how much fire, passion, and aliveness is in each of you individually, and then work to shift that
One of the biggest reasons that the spark dies in a relationship is because one or both of the people involved in it under-tends to their own sense of passion and aliveness in their own lives, and then projects that dissatisfaction onto the relationship.
So, with that awareness, it begs the question…
How are you feeling about your life in general, outside of your relationship?
Are you burning with passion, fire, and aliveness?
Do you feel fully creatively expressed?
Do you have hobbies that fuel you on a weekly basis?
Do you regularly take time to yourself to rekindle your relationship with your deep sense of you?
Do you have an aligned sense of purpose in the work that you engage in?
Do you have friends who make you tear up with gratitude in how deeply seen you feel when you spend time with them?
Do you regularly get your heart rate up and engage in movement practices that your body loves?
Do you regularly make time for fun, play, and practices that nourish your inner child?
If not, then there could be something to look at there.
As the old self-help cliche goes, “In order to say I love you, one must first be able to say the word ‘I’.”
Work on your relationship to self, and especially your own individual sense of passion, fire, and aliveness… and then allow those nutrients to overflow into your relationship with your partner.
5. Remember why you started dating them in the first place, and work to see them with fresh eyes
Feeling like we know everything about our partner is a common practice… but it is also an illusion.
Listen, I get it. It’s easy to feel like our partner is wholly predictable, and maybe you can accurately predict their behavior in any given situation with a 95% accuracy rating.
But nobody knows anyone completely.
We are all a ceaselessly flowing quantum soup of particles, changing moment to moment until the day we die.
So while the ego loves to put people into boxes and think, “Yes, I know this person completely… there are no surprises left”, this simply doesn’t hold up to reality.
Our partners will always be able to surprise us with who they are (and who they are becoming) if we look at them with fresh eyes.
Drop the assumptions, release the story that you know them completely, and observe them like a rare animal in the wild. See them for who they actually are – not for who our mind has calcified them into being, like some two-dimensional piece of furniture that we feel well acquainted with.
Also, bonus points if you can find a way to see them in their unique zone of genius.
Those things that you loved about your partner when you first fell for them? They’re still there. And the more time that you can intentionally witness them in those states, the better.
Trade in routine, monotony, 24/7 togetherness, taking them for granted, and assuming you know everything about them…
With increased fire, passion, and aliveness in your own lives… solo trips, alone time, effort and intention.
The way you breathe new life into your relationship is by deeply, honestly auditing the amount of life in your life, and working to shift it.
It’s easy to be lulled to sleep by comfort, ease, and familiarity.
It takes effort to step into life with renewed intention, to stoke the fire in our own belly, and to clear away the false veil over our own eyes.
And… that effort is worth it.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. After a multi-month hiatus of taking on any new clients, I am opening up my calendar to work with a few more people in a 1-on-1 capacity. If you want to speak to me in a group setting, that is still available in The Circle. But if you have something you want to work on, and want the privacy of speaking to me directly, reach out to me directly and let me know that you’re interested, and we’ll go from there.