7 ways to keep your relationship alive if the sparks start to wane

It's one of the toughest things...to turn around to the love of your life and tell them that, actually, the love ain't so lovely these days.

It's pretty crap looking back on the early memories with a happy nostalgia as if it were a distant dream, but you've been slapped with reality now.

It's so difficult to comprehend that this is the same person you once couldn't bear to be apart from, yet now you head out for dinner most nights to try to avoid spending time at home.

How does this even happen? How can the same love, the same relationship, the same two people...become so very different?

It isn't time-specific either, the 'this was not what I first signed up for' feeling can settle in after a year (if not before), five years or even 10 years.

The rut can creep up on you no matter how long you've served. I use the word serve because that's what it's starting to feel like, am I right?

Serving some self-imposed life sentence.

The sex is 'same old same old' and becomes almost like a ritual or a routine chore than something you actively want to engage in.

The weekends blur into one long laborious weekend of visiting relatives or house-cleaning or cooking or doing extra work beyond the office.

Conversations are hardly inspiring because, after all, you know everything about each other already. Once the post-work daily updates over dinner are over, you've got an air of empty space to once again fill.

The whole thing is just emotionally exhausting.

But, you DO love him with all your heart, and it's ridiculously frustrating that you can't just rewind and blossom once again.

What's more, other couples seem to still retain that bright light...even if they've been together longer than you two.

How have they done it exactly? Is their love stronger than yours?

Next you'll start doubting if it even is REAL love and perhaps you should end it…

I'm going to stop you right there.

Divide and conquer is how we get out of the dreaded relationship rut.

Firstly, ask yourself - do you still actually love him?

Try picturing your life without him in it...are you liberated or alone? If you genuinely feel like you want out, then that's a conversation you need to have with him.

If, however, you are still in love with him but are just burdened with this 'is this all there is now?' gut-wrenching feeling...there is good news. It can, and will, disperse.

So, without further ado, let's start to divide and conquer.

Sex

Sorry, but I have to bring this up as it's the elephant in this room.

Sex will ALWAYS become slightly routinal when you're making love to the same person for the rest of your days.

You know their body inside out, and vice versa. It can even start to become automatic.

But there is beauty in this too, you know.

The knowledge of knowing each other so intimately means you can awaken the bedroom antics once again.

Sex can be spiced up with a few tweaks and tricks.

You can start bringing in external toys that you can use together, change up the location (that expensive dining table deserves more than just a vase on it) or surprise each other with an unexpected session.

If you just don't feel like it or you're too tired...remember that the match only ignites once someone strikes it.

You get me? Be vocal and explain that you want some extra spice...he'll probably welcome the change, too.

Date Night

Set aside time to enjoy who you two are again.

Work, family, life commitments...it can all get in the way of what really matters - you two.

You embarked on this life together because you fell in love; the rest is just white noise in comparison.

I always aim for a date night a week. If you have children, then get the mother-in-law or a babysitter to look after them.

Just one evening a week can work wonders. You will both return to the person that made you fall head over heels in the first place.

Cinema, picnic, dinner at a restaurant or cocktails at a bar...anything and everything is fine as long as it is just the two of you for a few hours.

If you're broke then hey, no issue. A walk along the beach or at a neighbourhood park is enough.

You need to "just be" again.

Speak up

Give voice to that inner voice you've stifled.

You know exactly what I am talking about. You have all these pent up feelings - maybe you resent how long he spends at work.

Maybe he doesn't help out around the house enough.

Maybe the flowers stopped and the birthday cards are now scribbled in haste...leaving you feeling unwanted.

Or maybe you've got a serious issue and you've just swallowed it to salvage the relationship.

What all of this is doing, my dearest reader, is causing a huge silent rift between you two. Sometimes, silence is louder than words.

You might think you're keeping the peace but actually, imagine how you'll feel once you open up?

It will be like someone has lifted a weight off your shoulders. I would bet a lot of money he'd rather know how you feel than receive a fake-smile version of the true-you.

Plus, how can he possibly rectify the situation if he doesn't even know it exists? Talk to him. Iron out the issues - even if it is literally about the ironing.

Come on now...iron your own shirts, mate. I'm a partner, not a maid.'

"Me" time

Spend some "me time" on...yep you guessed it...YOU.

We often neglect ourselves in aid of our relationships and work commitments, but all this does is lower our morale.

With lower self esteem and less self-love, we then become internally miserable and either take it out on our partners or blame them for it.

Whilst yes, going to get your hair and nails done will temporarily lift you, I'm thinking beyond that.

What makes YOU happy? Did you use to read? Perhaps you like to paint?

Thought about trying Tai Chi but never bothered to find a local club? Or maybe you want to return to education and fancy a career change.

Whatever it is...stop dreaming, stop waiting for "the right time" and just do it.

You cannot lose yourself in someone else then get frustrated with the other person that you're not who you want to be.

Once you begin to feel happier about who you are, it will reflect positively in your relationship.'

Mini vacations

Get away with a getaway.

Firstly, planning mini vacations or long haul holidays is so much fun and injects some excitement into your current "werk werk werk werk werk" mentality.

Secondly, there is nothing like a freshly made hotel bed and champagne by the pool to make you relax, rewind and revisit the best parts of you as a pair.

Once again, it doesn't have to be expensive or a lot of effort...even an overnight stay for a weekend is enough to do some much needed relationship revival.

Mind over matter

Begin to mind your own mentality.

Eh? Let me explain.

In the bestselling novel Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, her brutally honest character Richard from Texas proffers this pearl of wisdom:

"You have to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes everyday. That's a power you can cultivate."

It's an interesting concept, isn't it? We don't ever really stop to think about our own thought patterns, and the fact that we can have either a negative or positive impact on them.

Basically, if you go around full of sadness for your past and resentment for your present, then nothing will change.

If you train yourself to think in a different way, that will soon become a habit which will override your old thought process with the new, more positive one.

Have you tried not worrying about the bills, or hating the fact he works so late? He works to bring home money, does he not?

Why not attempt to see everything from his perspective, and you might be able to handle the relationship differently and move forward in the process.

Live for the now

My final suggestion for your relationship R+R is this: Live mainly in the moment, not the past nor the future.

Stop comparing what you have to what you had.

The world is constantly changing, including us human beings.

I certainly am not the same person I was five years ago, or even one year ago (thank goodness).

You have evolved, and so has your relationship.

Don't dwell on the good times, create new ones! Don't fear the future, embrace it.

Instead of fighting the journey attempting to get back to the way you were, embrace it with him.

Who knows, it might just be the best thing you ever did.

I'll leave you with another Richard from Texas gem. He was a smart guy…

"You wanna get to the castle … you got to swim the moat."

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