Rekindle Romance

My husband and I went to see a movie a few weekends ago and I was distracted during the show (in the best way) by an elderly couple sitting in front of us. When the movie began, the man yawned and stretched his arm over the woman’s shoulder. She erupted in laughter. They were giddy, whispering and shushing themselves throughout the show. It occurred to me that even in their eighties, this couple was on a date, and enjoying every moment of it.

How can couples rekindle romance?

The elderly couple reminded me of a piece of advice from Stan Tatkin, founder of the PACT couples therapy approach I use in my practice. In his book, We Do: Saying Yes to a Relationship of Depth, True Connection, and Enduring Love, he asks couples:

“Are you committed to remaining boyfriend and girlfriend*?”

*We recognize that the terms “boyfriend/girlfriend” are binary. Gender-neutral titles such as “datemate” may be preferred by gender non-conforming, non-binary, or genderqueer couples.

Many couples may counter:

“Boyfriend and girlfriend? But we’re so much more than that to each other. That doesn’t do our relationship justice!”

It’s true that the titles of boyfriend/girlfriend don’t convey other special roles you may have acquired in your long-term commitment– perhaps life partner, husband, wife, mom, or dad. However, considering yourselves to be boyfriend/girlfriend first and foremost honors the foundation of your relationship. It celebrates the special dynamic that sparked your initial attraction and can inspire you to keep the fire alive.

Prioritize Play to Reignite Pleasure and Passion

New relationships are fun and exciting, sometimes even intoxicating. And though science tells us that the chemical rush responsible for that “crazy in love” feeling does level out over time, it doesn’t mean you and your partner can’t enjoy that excitement again.

In my practice, I work with many couples who have put their role as boyfriend/girlfriend on the back-burner. They go through the motions of daily work and home life and meet the responsibilities of other life roles, but aren’t experiencing consistent pleasure or passion in their relationship.

In order to rekindle romance, partners should start dating each other again. Regarding your partner as your boyfriend or girlfriend will remind you to play, to flirt, and to enjoy each other. It will motivate you to seek out each other’s attention and affection. The elderly couple I mentioned earlier may have been married and they might also be parents and grandparents. But, for those ninety minutes in the movie theatre, they were boyfriend and girlfriend, carrying on like love-struck teenagers.

Homework for Couples: Get Back to Basics

If you would like to rekindle romance with your partner, I recommend reflecting on your romantic roles by planning a date. It may seem insubstantial, but carving out time to reintroduce pleasurable experiences in your relationship can reinvigorate a dull dynamic.

Even though planning a date may take some work on the front end, it is a great investment in your relationship. Coordinating schedules and/or child care can be tricky and may not be practical every week, but don’t let that get in the way. Some studies have shown that just one quality outing a month can be beneficial for partners wanting to connect.  

When you and your partner are together in a private setting, consider and discuss some of the following questions . . .

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