6 Ways You Could Make That Honeymoon Stage Last …
Even if you’ve been married for decades. Really!
Falling in love? Easy. Staying in love with the same person who chews loudly, snores while you’re trying to fall asleep, and has a habit of leaving his dirty socks mere feet away from the hamper? More difficult.
Numerous studies have found that the quality of a marriage declines over time — and this doesn’t bear well for our overall happiness: A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies finds that the well-being benefits of marriage are greatest immediately after marriage when you’re in the honeymoon stage.
So, we spoke with therapists about how to keep that spark going in your marriage. At the very least, do it for your own well-being.
Embrace your partner’s faults
The honeymoon phase is technically called the “limerence” stage, as it’s part of the first stage of love, says Michele Waldron, a licensed psychologist and certified couples and sex therapist. The term was first coined in 1979, and it’s characterized by intense pleasurable physical sensations.
“Some describe it as feeling almost addicted to the person,” Waldron says. “Being with them causes significant emotional and sensual pleasure.” This phase can last a few months or a few years, and those in it tend to see the other’s best sides (both people usually present the best sides of themselves as well). The phase ends when the rose-colored glasses come off, and you start to see faults in your partner, which may lead to conflict. This is normal, Waldron says. Remaining in the honeymoon phase isn’t normal, since it’s superficial. For a relationship to progress, it needs to deepen, and that means getting to know your partner — which includes getting to know their faults.
“To keep the feelings going, it is important to embrace the other for all of who they are, and to find ways to stay adventurous together,” she says.
We tend to take each other for granted the longer we’re in a relationship. For example, at the beginning, you may have gushed every time he made you dinner. Now, you complain because he uses too much butter when he cooks. Gratitude is one of the major things that falls to the sideline when couples are in long-term relationships, says Laura Doyle, an author and a relationship coach. “How often do you tell your spouse thank-you?” Doyle asked. It can be for anything, from doing the dishes to picking up his socks on the way to bed. “Sure, these are things that he should naturally be doing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, nor can’t, appreciate it,” Doyle says.
Make time for each other
You may find yourself letting your relationship take the back seat, especially after you have become comfortable, says Joni Ogle, a licensed clinical social worker and a certified sex addiction therapist. But making time for each other is crucial for keeping the spark alive, Ogle says. “Whether it’s going on regular date nights, a weekend trip or just taking a few minutes every day to talk without distractions, carving out time for each other will keep you connected,” she says.
Many couples forget the important components of a marriage, which are communication, intimacy and quality time, says Kasey King, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “They no longer have to come together and plan a wedding or paint the new house, so they slowly become emotionally distant.” Try taking a class together, or even form a book club together.
Accept that one person can’t give you everything you need
Cultivate friendships, and encourage your spouse to do the same, says Caroline Madden, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and the author of How to Go From Soul Mates to Roommates in 10 Easy Steps. Having friends outside your marriage takes the pressure off your partner to be everything for you. Just make sure you choose healthy relationships that enhance your marriage instead of detracting from it, Madden says.
Commit to having weekly dates — and be creative with your dates, says Danielle McDowell, a licensed therapist in Virginia and Florida. Seek to continue to learn new things about your partner through open communication or by using conversation-style card games that help to ask unique questions so you can learn more about each other. “It’s important to understand that the newlywed feeling will evolve and change as the relationship changes, and that’s OK,” she says. “As the feeling evolves, commit to doing your part to maintaining the spark that developed during the newlywed time of your relationship.”
What do you think of the advice above? Let us know in the comments below.