All you need is love, like the Beatles wisely sang. But once you have it – that heart-thumping, face-flushing much-sought-after romantic love you see in movies like The Holiday – how do you keep it fresh?
I, personally, have enjoyed two long-term relationships in which I got to experience that gaga “falling in love” stage, followed by (no matter how much one puts it off) the eventual slog of “feeling in love” with someone I spend a lot of time with. The success of my current marriage to B was recently confirmed by this FB post: “90% of marriage is just shouting ‘what’ from other rooms.”
Doing a poll at my fitness classes for this blog I asked, “What do you do to keep the love alive with your spouse/partner?” and one woman answered, “Well, I don’t kill him.”
Seriously though, it’s a good question, yes? We humans desire to feel “in love”, but once the chase has ended, the mystery’s been solved, and we start letting our guards down about bodily functions like burping and fluffing (f*rting for guys), what do we do?
Well, I’d like to thank you, my readers, for these great suggestions on how to keep the love alive as Valentine’s Day 2018 approaches:
Says Glenda, “I have been with my current partner for 11 years. I keep the love alive through three important points:
- Appreciation – One of the biggest things for a man is knowing he is appreciated. I will say things like, “I really appreciate you having my back in that situation” or “I don’t know what I would have done if you had not been there to help me. Thank you.”
- Planned Intimacy – As our lives get busy we don’t always feel like being sexy. Setting aside a day a week or a schedule that works for you is essential. On a cold night you don’t always feel like being sexy, but you know it is important for your relationship so you can plan on getting yourself ready to get in the mood for the one you love. You can do something simple like make dinner or he can make dinner for you, do an activity, see a movie or have a candlelight bath together. Chapters has books that can guide you in sexual games.
- Being Fair – Make sure that neither party takes advantage of the other in the relationship. This may be financial, emotional or even physical (tasks). It is important to talk about when someone is not being fair to keep your relationship balanced and respectful which allows your love to deepen.”
This was a challenging question for my brother Ray, who married his first wife Valentine’s Day 1981. “I always said that was the best day of my life. Now it’s the worst day for me.
I spent 36 years of my marriage focused on a different set of priorities: myself, money, working, providing, motorcycles, fixing things, kids. I took the relationship for granted, I took love for granted. By the time I was ready to change and realized what I was doing, it was too late and I lost her.”
Now Ray has a partner he’s been with for over three years. And he has some great love wisdom to share, gleaned through Yoga, Bhakti, Devotional Practice. “Love is not about infatuation, neediness, sex, the perfect relationship. It’s not about that beautiful feeling of elation when you meet and the world disappears around you. Love is about giving. Working hard every day. All in. It’s not easy, it’s not that elated feeling, roses and buttercups. At times it’s slogging through the mud, fighting, struggling, compromising, trying, listening, caring, holding, hugging, cuddling, putting aside your beliefs, working hard to come together as a couple, come together as one.
I wake up every day and work at our relationship. It’s first in my life. It is the most difficult thing that I have ever done. It’s life, it’s love.”
Says Ray’s partner Hilary, “We have ‘date nights’ regularly and do ‘naked yoga’ to keep things interesting. We also use “Rock Talk” when things get complicated: holding a rock in turn and the one with the rock gets to ‘get things off their chest’ first, then they pass it to the other for their turn. We also have a cleaning lady, no matter how tight things are – keeps the love alive! And we bake/make dinners together.”
“Faith is a big part of it for me,” says Mary, who’s been married to her husband P for almost 34 years. “Trust is earned, gets tattered and worn and needs repair at times. I am learning to see P, and everyone really, through Jesus’ kind of love lens. I see the wonderful, caring, humourous, goofy, intelligent, loving man he was created to be and accept that he is flawed and working toward Jesus kind of love. Maybe it’s seeing times together as adventures, be it working together chopping down trees at our daughter and son-in-law’s house or grocery shopping or traveling somewhere? Why P loves me I’ll never know! Maybe the brownies?”
“Mark and I have been together for 37 years, married for 32,” says Nancy. “We have date night every Wednesday and enjoy our five grandchildren (two more coming this year).”
Rosemary says it helps that Valentine’s Day is also her birthday, which tends to guarantee dinner, roses, cake and presents. Of her 45-year marriage, she says, “The rush and gush changes to recognition that he is just a great guy and gratitude for the person he is becomes more important. Things like being there for me, committed to marriage and being a good father play a bonding connection.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but I think gratitude and respect are key. We learn as we journey and know that celebrating special occasions, vacations together, traditions, humour, saying ‘I’m sorry’, remembering our history, shared values and family have been the glue.
Sometimes . . . a house that is big enough that we each have our own space works wonders.”
“We plan and do a lot of adventures together and our relationship just keeps getting better day by day,” says my daughter Randelle. “In just one year we have travelled to the Yukon, Paris, London England, San Francisco, Whistler, Ontario, Tofino. And the biggest adventure of all? I moved in to his place on Bowen Island. We keep learning from each other and we make a huge effort to always keep things exciting.”
On a lighter note, there’s my son Jay, with a wacky sense of humour no doubt inherited from his father. He and his girlfriend have been together 6-1/2 years and this is how he keeps the love alive: “By pretending that she is Ryan Gosling at all hours of every day. I also like to pretend that I am in fact Rachel McAdams. Like I really get into the role and truly believe that I am her and she is him. It seems to work for us!”
(I can’t let the mention of Rachel McAdams – from London, Ontario! – go by without sharing that I watched Elton John from a suite at Budweiser Gardens with her parents. I debated, but eventually admitted to Wikipedia-ing their daughter. Her father said, “What’s that?” Her mother waved him off, said, “I’ll explain later”, then, looking at me, said, “Yeah, I’ve done that too.” We both marveled at how much was on there about her!)