A few of us went out for dinner on Valentine's Day, instigated by a friend who's in a long-distance relationship. They've been together for several years but at the moment, due to work commitments, are only able to meet up at weekends.
I wondered if they'd prefer to make the most of dining more intimately together on Valentine's Day, rather than with us in a group. But he replied, 'no, it's fine, we've been together for years, we're at the no card, no flowers, no gift stage in our relationship.'
This led me to later reflect on whether we need to make more effort in our long-standing relationships. Whilst it's lovely to be comfortably settled and not have to constantly be trying to impress our partner surely it's the little things, that often aren't especially necessary, which help keep the romance alive in our relationships.
Those little touches keep the flames flickering and sustain us through the mundane and routine times in everyday life. We may not 'need' that card or bunch of flowers but it certainly can make us smile to be thought of with affection.
What are some ways to keep the romance alive;
- Don't neglect the basics. Look after yourself physically. Keep on top of your hygiene, take responsibility for your health, for looking smart, for your appearance. It's great to kick off your shoes and change into casual clothes after a stressful day but it's not a good look to automatically do that everyday. There are times when looking good is important, both to you and your partner and you'll feel more attractive and confident when you do make the effort.
Don't be that partner who's let yourself go. Yes, we all change physically over the years, but exercise, dental check-ups, a healthy lifestyle are our choices that support us in taking the best possible care of ourselves.
- Keep yourself interesting. Rather than flop in a chair with the TV every evening why not sometimes suggest a walk, a pleasant outing or an engaging hobby. 'School nights' can be busy and tiring, but equally so is repeating the same old routine every day. Be up-to-date with current affairs, ready and interested in learning about each other's news. A little planning and effort can help keep the romance alive.
- The simple touches are important. Maybe offer to look after the children so your partner can have a free afternoon for shopping, a game of golf or a leisurely afternoon. Do the chores without having to be asked or, worse still, repeatedly reminded. It makes life so much easier and less stressful for everyone and enables you both to feel invested in all areas of the relationship.
- Why not send a text with a simple, 'thinking of you' message. Not wanting anything other than to say, 'I love you'. Or run a bath for them when they come home after a busy day at work or with the children, or offer to give them a back or foot massage.
- Keeping the romance alive doesn't necessitate spending money. A gift of a framed photo of 'our' favourite place, a compilation of 'our' songs, a pressed leaf or champagne cork from a special date can all be beautiful, much appreciated gestures that demonstrate love and affection for those significant memories. Thoughtful, romantic gestures are often more appreciated than any expensive department store present.
- Many of us have several groups of relationships that need juggling which can sometimes cause us stress. Work, family, friends can at times be demanding and require extra input. Being romantic is also about being insightful and considerate. Occasionally suggesting something that would ease our partner's stress levels, like visiting their family or inviting them round for a meal could be viewed as romantic. Or being gracious about accompanying them to an event or social occasion that's important to them can mean a lot.
On reflection, keeping the romance alive isn't just about red roses and chocolates. Often making the effort with sensitive gestures and actions can be proof enough that we care, and that can be enough to keep the romance alive in our relationship.
Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net