You've been thinking a lot about it for a long time. Maybe years. Is it time for the big leap of faith? Is it time to move out of your house into a senior living...
Anyone who has been in a 'relationship' with another person has experienced an effect known as the honeymoon phase. The honeymoon phase is often referred to in terms of romantic relationships, but it applies to all relationships. However, for the purpose of this article, I'll keep it in the realm of the romantic.
Most people would agree that there is nothing like falling in love. The first time you saw him/her. Your first date. Your first kiss. Your first fight and the subsequent make-up after that. These milestones are exciting and can often be quite turbulent. Question marks keep the spark alive. Does he love me? Will she like these? Should I, or shouldn't I? These questions and many more rarely garner any answers without time invested into the relationship. The trouble is when all your questions seem to be answered, where then does the relationship go?
In every relationship, there is a cooling period. For many, it happens once you've gotten married, moved in together, or had children. But, problems with the house, the dog, the kids help to keep relationships interesting. When all the distractions are gone, it's just you and your partner you've been with for 30, maybe even 40+ years, and all the kids have moved on, how do you keep the love alive? The following list will attempt to provide inspiration to make your time together more enjoyable, more meaningful, and keep the spark alive.
Put That Spark Back Into Your Marriage
Planning Regular Date-Nights
We all know that work is exhausting, and routines are easy to settle into. If your children are adults and you and your spouse/significant other are close to retirement, this routine almost seems like autopilot. How then do we keep things interesting? Perhaps you're already retired, and you have all the time in the world, but the time seems to be sliding by. A great way to keep things fresh and remind your special someone just how special they are is to break that routine a bit and plan date nights. While setting a regular date every week may seem like more of the same routine monotony, it gives both of you something to look forward to each week. You keep things fresh by changing up the location and trying new restaurants or activities. You may even have a date night in but watch a favorite movie or make a special dinner.
Not sure what to do? Check out our post, 10 Fun and Easy Date Night Ideas for Seniors!
A way to show your significant other you care about them is to take care of your own health and let them know that you care for theirs as well. Exercising together is a great way to release any frustration you may have about the many stressful things you encounter on a daily basis. Working out also releases endorphins which help to improve both of your mental states.
Pushing one another is a way to show that you are still invested. Doing personal maintenance is also appreciated by your significant other. Being competitive is also a way of showing your partner that you still respect them and believe in them. Finally, supporting your partner in their fitness goals at any age is a fantastic way to show you care and are willing to be involved in their life.
Exploring New Hobbies
Finding a new shared hobby can prove challenging at times. This is why it is vitally important to be democratic in your relationship and try to find something that combines both of your interests. However, it is also worthwhile to get involved or support whatever new hobby your partner is into. This shows your special someone that they are still special to you. You are devoted to them and supportive of their endeavors.
This becomes especially important in our later years when kids are not around anymore or we've retired. The older we get, the more we may feel unnecessary to our loved ones or to the world, so taking the time to remind them that they are important and integral to you means the world. If you play your cards right, the new hobby could be something like bread-making or dancing classes that she's always wanted, then everybody wins. Click here for even more new hobby ideas!
Surprising One Another
Nothing says that these surprises must be huge or earth-shattering. They can be small. In fact, the gesture is what tends to count the most. Buy flowers on your way home. Make your spouse's favorite meal before they get home. Or, finish that gazebo in the backyard that you've been promising. These surprises are not extravagant by any means, but they show care and forethought. Surprising them with something just for them or creating a shared experience will only bring you closer together.
Think back to your teenage years—the excitement of receiving a handwritten note from your sweetheart. Hers had perfume on it or sealed with a kiss. His notes smelled like him. Or the anxiety and accomplishment of passing notes in class without getting caught. In those moments, your love was somehow forbidden and tantalizing. Over the years, you've grown closer, and you know each other as well as a person could possibly know another. Sometimes it feels like you know everything the other is going to say without saying it, but that's just it; sometimes, we need to hear it. It doesn't have to be a big to-do; it could be as simple as leaving him a handwritten love letter in his lunchbox before he leaves for that fishing trip. It could be scribbling a note on her napkin at the restaurant while she's gone to the bathroom. Small words of affection remind him/her how special they are and that you still know it.
Seeing the World
Taking a trip to a new place can help excite the imagination. It doesn't have to be elaborate; it could be a spontaneous weekend getting to a place in your home state. However, taking the time to plan a big trip to the country you've always wanted to visit is a great way to show your investment: both literally and figuratively. The planning is sometimes the best part. You each help each other build excitement as you find new sites to visit or restaurants to try.
Then, of course, going there may be the realization of a long-anticipated goal or a reminder that you are still partners and can accomplish things as a unit. Seeing the sights and going on adventures has a transformative effect on most everyone and helps to reforge or bonds as we are allowed to give up our cares for however long a time.
Taking Time to Discuss and Plan for the Future
Do you remember being young, in love, and how exciting it was to talk about your future together? As we and our spouses grow older, we may have fewer responsibilities pressing on us, but that does not mean there aren't many things to plan for. Perhaps you've fallen out of the routine of regularly discussing your future plans, but it's important to check in and make sure you're on the same page.
When should you retire?
Should you downsize the house?
Retire to Florida?
What should your next vacation be?
What kind of grandparents do you want to be?
Some of these topics are more than others, but taking the time to discuss them can help ease your spouse's mind about the future and create excitement around it. In addition, it shows them that you are there to support and care for them. Once these matters are taken care of, you and your spouse can move forward with less stress, knowing that you are on the same page and have many more exciting things to look forward to together.
Growing older takes its toll on everyone. All too often, we hear of couples growing apart over the years and relationships growing strained. However, this does not have to be the case. If you're feeling unfulfilled in your relationship or a bit depressed, try one or more of the above suggestions. Not only will this help to liven things up for you, but you will also see your partner come alive in your love for them. Love and laughter are powerful medicines, and we must do what we can to preserve them for as long as we can.
Let us know in the comments below - How do you keep your long-term marriage fresh and exciting?