In a long-term relationship gone stale? Reassess and keep it fresh
Elizabeth Weil doesn’t just have a good marriage, she has a great one. A contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, she just released a memoir, “No Cheating, No Dying: I Had a Good Marriage. Then I Tried to Make It Better,” which chronicles how she and her husband improved their relationship after more than a decade together. Now she shares five ways long-term couples can to get back to the honeymoon phase — and keep it going till death do you part.
Do something together that’s a little scary
Nothing jump-starts romance like a little fear. “People in long relationships get really comfortable, and it’s good to shake that up — not just a little but a lot,” says Weil. “Many of the feelings we associate with falling in love throw us off balance.” So for that next date night, skip the fancy dinner and go skydiving or bungee jumping. Weil and her husband, who live in San Francisco, decided to swim to Alcatraz Island and back. “That really put us back in touch with all of those feelings, when we needed each other in a more visceral way.”
Make great sex a priority
Don’t just have sex — have earth-shaking sex. But to do that, you’ll need to have a very open and honest conversation about your turn-ons. “Don’t assume that you know, because you may not,” says Weil. “Don’t wait until the sex is stale. Talk about it. Decide you want your sex to be great and put some effort into it.” Send the kids on a playdate and do it on the bathroom sink. Fulfill a secret fantasy. Get kinky. Go have loud “hotel sex.” Whatever it takes.
Put yourself in the other’s shoes
“When you’re in a long relationship, you think you know the other person and everything they think and feel, but you don’t,” says Weil. A well-developed sense of empathy helps bring couples closer together and cuts down on petty arguments. “When you’re not understanding each other, slow down and imagine how the other person feels. Literally, role play as your partner.” You’ll find you make up quickly (makeup sex!).
Even happy unions have room for improvement. “Treat your emotional life the same way you treat your physical health,” says Weil. “Take preventative measures. Stay in shape. If you wait until problems escalate, they’re much harder to fix.”