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Regain the Romance and Sparkle in Your Relationship

If only relationships could be as exciting and romantic as when we first met. You know, all that intensity, enthusiasm, excitement and, of course, sex. I'm sure you've felt it: hating being apart, even for a short time; being unable to concentrate on anything else for very long; and waiting to be together again. When you are together, you hang onto every word, marvel at every part of your lover's body, and feel so wonderful, you smile all the time.

Does this all have to end? Are relationships doomed to predictable and boring routines of shopping, preparing meals, doing the dishes, laundry, watching T.V., talking about work, taking care of the kids, fighting, and sleeping? Definitely not. In fact, long term lovers can become even more enchanted with each other, since their passion grows from a deeper knowledge and fondness for each other. But time alone does not help a relationship to fourish-it requires a willingness to take risks, and special, persistent attention.

Many couples love each other deeply, and genuinely enjoy each others' company, yet feel that the relationship is stale. They long for some of the old intensity, romance, and spontaneity. Others don't see the need for that intensity, or even believe that it's possible to feel that again. They assume that intensity exists only at the beginning of a relationship, and that "mature love" is more settled and less exciting. While how we feel toward each other certainly changes and evolves over the years, the truth is that our relationships reflect what we put into them.

Children can be so carefree and loving because they have lived for just a few years-a much shorter time in which to accumulate negative experiences and build up feelings of resentment, anger, and mistrust. Relationships are similar to this. In the beginning, we don't know each other very well, and aren't carrying around resentments from past interactions with each other. As the years go by, these resentments accumulate. We no longer look at our partner with the same fresh, unjudging eyes.

It can help to look at our partner with a fresh look, let go of past baggage, and remember all the reasons we love her/him so much. This means stretching past any resentments, and opening up to feeling and giving love more fully.

So, how can you regain some of that old spark? Start out by thinking about your partner and all the reasons that you love her/him. Ask yourself:

what s/he means to you;
what it is about her/him that you love;
when was the last time that you told her/him how much you love her/him in a real feeling way; and
whether you have written her/him a love letter, or left a love note under her/his pillow or in her/his briefcase recently.
Give yourself permission to creatively express your love. You can make a card, a little book of love, coupons s/he redeems with you for a massage, dinner, or whatever you know s/he'd enjoy. You could write a love poem, sing to her/him, or read an erotic passage out of a book. Don't be shy; your partner will be touched by the love you put into it.

Consider doing something silly with your lover that you used to do when you first dated, no matter how silly it seems-in fact, the sillier the better. Take time to enjoy your partner. Let the dishes and laundry pile up if necessary.

Need some more ideas? Here's a few:

Surprise your sweetie with tickets to an event you think s/he'd really enjoy. Hide them where s/he'll find them.

Take her/him out on a date where s/he gets to choose whatever s/he wants to do, even if it's something you wouldn't ordinarily want to do (remember to be gracious).

Take turns planning weekly dates, where you take turns deciding what to do. A date could be a picnic in a park, a drive in the country, a trip to an art gallery, or a movie.

Turn your home into a fine restaurant for one evening. Surprise your lover with a menu, music, candles, a delicious meal, and table service (that's you). If you're frequently too busy to find time together, make spending time together a priority. Show your partner that s/he is your priority.

Take a day off from all responsibilities, including the telephone, and just do what you both really want to do. Be completely spontaneous, and if you can't agree, take turns doing what you both want.

Devote yourself to your partner's wishes for a fixed amount of time. S/he gets to decide whatever s/he wants you to do (assuming you agree to it). S/he may want to be held, have you read poetry, receive a massage, be understood about something, have you clean the kitchen, or be taken out for coffee. Taking turns with this can be a lot of fun.

Be playful with each other. Feed each other with your fingers, stay in bed all day, take a walk in the rain, sing old tunes you both know, or have a pillow fight. It doesn't matter what you do, just that you have fun again.

Find a time to look deeply and lovingly into your lover's eyes; words are not necessary. Look at her/his face and see her/his beauty and uniqueness. Tell her/him what you see and feel. Take the risk to feel the depth of your emotions and to share that with your lover. At night before you fall asleep, tell her/him something that you love about her/him. Remember, you're the one who knows what your lover really enjoys. Surprise her/him with something special-don't wait for a birthday or anniversary.

The idea is, no matter what you do, make it special.

These are just a few suggestions to help you regain some of the sparkle in your relationship. Don't be afraid to let your imagination go wild, or to appear silly. Your partner will enjoy the love and thought you've put into it, and over time you may find your relationship feeling vibrant once more.

- Kali Munro, 1998, 2000.

Kali Munro, M.Ed., is a psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto, Canada. She has twenty years experience specializing in a variety of issues including sexual abuse, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders, and body image. She provides individual and couple therapy in Toronto, as well as online. She offers free healing resources at her web site about relationships, abuse, sexuality, and much more. Check out her inspiring and healing site

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