We associate June with weddings. If you know any couples walking down the aisle this month, you’ve probably noticed that they’re starry-eyed with passion. And, no doubt, they wouldn’t believe you if you told them they won’t always feel that way. There’s a romantic ideal that once you’ve found “the one,” you’ll share passion that burns brightly forever. But it’s normal for passion to wane over time, even as your partnership grows deeper in other ways.
Social psychologist Elaine Hatfield explains that there are actually two types of love. Passionate love is physical and emotional longing. It’s what you feel when you first fall in love. Companionate love is characterized by intimate friendship, but it’s less emotionally charged. It’s tough to maintain passionate and companionate love at the same time because these two types of love thrive in polar opposite conditions. Companionate love will typically emerge out of the intimacy and comfort of daily interaction, but passion thrives on surprise, distance, and novelty, which must be cultivated more deliberately if you’ve been together a long time. Although it’s virtually impossible to maintain a constant state of passion in your relationship, incorporate these specific habits to keep the spark of passion alive in your marriage:
- Put some more time into other relationships. When you spend time with other people you enjoy, you bring fresh energy back into your marriage and take the pressure off your spouse to meet all your needs. Giving your partner some breathing room helps him see you with fresh eyes.
- Get out of your routines. Try something new on your date nights, especially if it jolts your nervous system or gets your heart racing. Think seeing a scary movie or riding a motorcycle.
- Learn something new. Take a class or develop a new hobby. Besides making you happier, developing different aspects of your life makes you more intriguing to your partner.
I talk more about maintaining passion in marriage in my book Strong Women, Strong Love. I also recommend Esther Perel’s TED talk “The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship.”
Try out some of these tips in your marriage this week. You just might give those honeymooners a run for their money!