How to Fall Back in Love With Your Partner
All long-term relationships evolve over time, inevitably ebbing and flowing with the ups and downs that life brings. In many cases, once the honeymoon phase—which may last up to two and a half years—wears off and reality sets in, it can feel like the spark that drew you together in the first place has flickered a little. Marriage, kids and all the responsibilities associated with these huge life changes can also contribute to a loss of passion.
But that's not to say you have to throw in the towel. Experts say there are a number of ways to reignite the primal excitement you felt when you first fell in love—you just have to be willing to work at it.
Toy Banks knows this firsthand. Banks, based in Detroit, has been married to her husband for 26 years, but she said the first 10 years were miserable. After having four children in five years, she said the initial spark was nowhere to be found.
"We argued all the time," she said. "We almost divorced 20 or 30 times. I was so unhappy and so depressed."
Banks eventually reached her breaking point and knew something had to change, so she decided to look inward. She discovered that she needed to communicate her needs more openly and honestly. She learned how to forgive and fully submit herself to this person to whom she had made a lifelong commitment. Her husband did the same, and their marriage finally began to grow.
"It took time, but the time that it took was worth it because our marriage became more successful, more romantic and loving," Banks said.
Banks' marriage improved so much following her personal journey that she decided to become a marriage coach. She now helps other couples facing similar struggles and runs the Satisfied Wife Club website.
Her No. 1 tip for getting everything back on track is to take responsibility for the role you play in your relationship. Rather than blaming the other person for your own unhappiness, she said each person must make it their responsibility to bring the passion back.
"In long-term relationships, we begin to get lazy and we begin to take advantage of who our partner is and the value they bring to our lives," Banks said. "You want to avoid getting into that rut. When the spark is gone, we often blame the other person. And when you place blame, you relieve yourself of accountability."
Make it fun
One of the best ways to take initiative in improving a strained relationship is to carve out time to revisit some of the places where you first "kindled that fire" and relive the experiences that made you fall in love in the first place, according to Edwina Caito, an Indiana-based relationship expert and head writer for the sex-positive website bedbible.com.
"Go back to the beginning," she said. "Sometimes, the familiarity of those places and activities brings back those positive memories and feelings you experienced through sights, smells and remembering why you fell in love with your partner."
If that doesn't sound appealing, she said couples can do the complete opposite and seek new experiences to try together. Whether it's hiking in the mountains or heading to a tropical destination to try surfing or scuba-diving, Caito said sharing a new experience can help you see your partner in a whole new light.
"Experiencing new things as a couple mimics the feelings you had when you first met when everything was new and thrilling," she said.
Try something new in the bedroom
Spicing things up in the bedroom can also help reignite that spark while adding excitement to your sex life, Caito said. She suggested visiting an adult toy shop together—you can also do this online—roleplaying, both of you wearing sexy lingerie, playing adult games or trying a sensual massage.
"Growing closer in intimacy always feeds into our everyday lives, making us want to cuddle, kiss and interact more outside of the bedroom," she added.
Somatic sex and relationship coach Sylvie Bee, based in California, recently launched a course to help couples do just that. Called "Kink for the Curious," the course is aimed at couples who want to bring a bit of excitement and spice into their lives, both in and out of the bedroom, Bee said.
Whips, paddles and chains are some of the objects that likely come to mind when hearing the word "kink," contributing to many couples' reluctance to try it. But Bee stressed that kink can include everything from gentle sensation to impact play, which means using textures, touches or implements to create soft, gentle, hard or rough kinds of sensations.
She said kink is about indulging your deepest fantasies and deepening your intimacy through aspects such as power dynamics, mind games, roleplaying, rope play and more.
"Many people don't realize that you don't have to use floggers or paddles or canes to bring some kink into your life," Bee said. "I have seen the cathartic, transformational power of kink with my own eyes and experienced it myself in my own marriage and I feel it's something many couples could benefit from."
While it's not uncommon for life to get in the way of a long-term relationship, and you may be left wondering whether you can rediscover what you've seemingly lost, you can take comfort in knowing there are a number of ways to reignite that spark and fall back in love, perhaps even more in love than you ever were.