Keeping the spark

A few conversations recently about keeping the romance alive and well in long term relationships generated some interesting results. How can we do it? Is it realistic to expect eons of rapture or will all relationships eventually become more of a business partnership with a shared objective of raising children? Not so. If our marriages have a 5 year validity period which then expires or is renewed with your driver’s license, we have a much better chance of behaving in an endearing manner to ensure the marriage extension as a desirable option. Alternatively, different types of marriages can be applied for including open relationships which allow each spouse access to extra-marital affairs without prejudice. A solution that already exists but is not widely recognized as appropriate or acceptable. Perhaps if it was the norm, monogamy like vegetarianism, would be considered a noble and admirable choice that few people can commit to.

Dream as we might of solutions to high divorce rates and unhappily married statistics, neither of these are likely to become an option; whilst I am alive anyway.  So what then is the answer?

As with all partnerships, there are certain elements that when present, allow it to thrive. The proof of that is brilliantly documented in ‘The Power of 2’ (Wagner and Muller – Gallup Press) which I wrote about last year.  First and foremost they say, is a common mission. The reason being: when partners want the same thing badly enough, they will make personal sacrifices necessary to see it through. Conversely when partnerships fail, the root cause is that the two people were pursuing separate agendas.

If however, nurturing a family is the centre of your marriage, what happens then when the children have moved on and the purpose of your union dissolves? A crisis. The crisis is that two people who initially merged for reasons of the heart have long forgotten those feelings. They were bleached and faded like a very old pair of your favourite jeans after a decade or two of washes. Communication changed slowly from whispering sweet nothings to covert conversations under your breath about what discipline to dish out. Spontaneous sex swapped to spontaneous naps. Date night conversations became dominated by childrearing and less about your dreams and desires. Amour and adulation transformed slowly into aloofness and apathy. It happens. The relentless responsibilities and duties of providing and supporting a family can consume our time and energy. Unless it doesn’t. Unless we don’t allow that to happen.

There needs to be a new common objective without a sell by date. Something with longevity like ‘helping one-another become the-best-versions-of-yourselves’. When both spouses acknowledge each other as someone we deeply care about and love -wanting for them in life what is best for their own emotional, physical, mental and spiritual wellness- we become more accommodating. When we are accommodating, flexible and considerate, it has a knock on effect. They become more considerate and concerned for your happiness. Instead of score keeping ‘tit-for-tat’ interactions, a climate of love is generated. When we feel some has genuinely and fairly considered our best interests, we don’t become complacent and take one another for granted. We want to please them. To make them smile and laugh. We become playful and enjoy their company. We feel connected and close. Wanting to show or express our appreciation becomes a priority. It is the choice me make because we feel heard, seen, validated and appreciated in the relationship.

When and if we have spare time and energy, our thoughts go to sharing pleasure with our partner because the act of giving and loving makes us feel good as well as our partners. Everyone wins.

Keeping the spark alive is created with an ongoing practise of mindfulness/ thoughtfulness toward your significant other. Prolonged rapture is a consequence of the ongoing choice to place your relationship as a priority. A quality relationship is the reward we get for investing our time, energy, thoughts and kindness into another person. During the honeymoon phase of all couples, it’s that very endearing behaviour which makes us feel adored. There is no need for that to end if BOTH choose for it not to.  It’s your Choice.  Changing (read as: upgrading/ downgrading) your current partner for a different, newer model is only a short-term solution. In 5 years you will become bored/complacent again and confused about where the spark vanished to this time. The ‘spark’ is not hidden in the person you are with; it is hidden in the behaviours you exhibit when you bestow your adoration on your lover. Try it and watch the flames re-ignite. Be warned, they might want to stay married to you for a lifetime.