Science

2 Science-Backed Ways To Fall Back In Love With Your Partner

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Many people come to therapy saying that they’ve lost “the spark” with their long-time romantic partner. They may say things like:

“We used to be so affectionate with each other. Now it’s a strain to ask to hold hands.”
“We’re fine as we currently are, but I still feel like there’s something missing. Am I asking too much from our love?”
“Is it even possible to be head-over-heels in love with someone after spending every day together for the past eight years? I can’t tell if we’re the rule or the exception.”

It’s impossible to definitively know whether one’s long-term relationship is in need of repair. So much depends on subjective interpretations of the alliance.

However, relationship scientists have designed various instruments to test the quality of a couple’s partnership. One such test, called the Relationship Satisfaction Scale, is used in therapeutic settings to provide objective insight into the nature of the relationship. The test asks respondents to indicate the extent to which they agree with the following 10 statements:

I have a close relationship with my spouse/partner
My partner and I have problems in our relationship
I am very happy with our relationship
My partner is generally understanding
I often consider ending our relationship
I am satisfied with my relationship with my partner
We frequently disagree on important decisions
I have been lucky in my choice of a partner
We agree on how children should be raised
I think my partner is satisfied with our relationship

If these statements make you feel like there might be a fracture in your bond—or if you’ve been sitting with the feeling that something is not quite right for some time—here are two ways to reignite the flame.

1. Experiment With Taking Breaks From Each Other

This may sound counterintuitive, but taking time apart from your partner can be an effective way to rekindle your romance. Just as research suggests that taking regular vacations from work can have lasting benefits on your mental health (one study found that the odds of depression and tension were significantly higher in women who vacationed only once every two years compared to those who vacationed twice per year), so too can extended “me-time” breaks help you return to your marriage or long-term partnership with newfound vim and vigor.

Here are two ways to go about this:

Plan a trip with friends. Think of your friend circle as a bastion of emotional support that can help you weather the ups and downs of a long-term relationship. One study conducted among newlyweds found that spouses who maintained a strong network of social connections outside of their marriage fared better during episodes of marital difficulty. Use this knowledge to your advantage. Plan regular meet-ups and activities with your close friends. Don’t be afraid to schedule the occasional weekend getaway or trip. You’ll likely return to your partner with a renewed appreciation for your life together.
Take a solo sojourn. Just because you are in a committed partnership doesn’t mean you can’t plan the occasional solo trip. Solo travel, according to research, can be a powerful way to bring about positive change in terms of escape, happiness, empowerment, self-growth and self-realization. Solo travel can give you the time and space you need to calm an overactive mind and re-evaluate life priorities. The perspective you gain by spending time alone in a new environment can help you rediscover the initial attraction you shared with your partner.

2. Give Spontaneity A Try

Long-term partnerships can suffer when one or both partners go into auto-pilot mode. There needs to be some spice to keep the novelty alive. The elements of spice can be big (“let’s hop in the car and find somewhere fun to spend the long weekend”) or small (a surprise lunch date in the middle of a hectic day). They can even be “micro-actions,” like an unexpected heartfelt text message or email.

The point is that you show your partner you care about them and the relationship—and that you aren’t afraid to go off-script to make them smile.

Conclusion

No relationship is perfect and no partner is perfect. If you’ve been with someone long enough, you will have made mistakes in the relationship as will have they. The important thing is to actively engage to keep the spark alive. This may mean taking your own mental health vacation. It may mean adding some spontaneity back into the partnership. Most of all, it means having the ability to show compassion, forgiveness and acceptance in the face of life’s inevitable setbacks.

If you’d like to take the Relationship Satisfaction Scale cited above and receive your results, you can follow this link: Relationship Satisfaction Scale

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