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Keeping the Spark Alive in Marriage

coupleA widely believed myth is that marriage gets boring and stays that way. This is only true when things get too familiar and predictable. Granted, we like routines and it’s nice to know that we can count on our spouse being there when we go to bed and wake up. But this doesn’t mean that after you realize he’s (or she’s) the one that the fun has to end.

It means to notice when it’s time to add excitement to your marriage. When an activity you used to enjoy on your own or as a couple no longer lights you up, it’s time to try something new — on your own or together.

If you enjoy your job, hobby, or other activity, you’ll sparkle. Your aliveness will be contagious; it will spice things up for both of you. So take a break from a routine. Do something different, even if it feels uncomfortable.

Snorkeling Adventure

My husband and I were vacationing in Maui with our son, then a toddler, which kept one of us on constant duty. While I took a snorkeling cruise, my husband watched our son. I love snorkeling in warm water, exploring the pristine habitat of fish. It had been years since I’d had the opportunity to do this.

This time, as I usually did when snorkeling, I kept swimming, searching for fish. I seemed to be working very hard for the reward of finding an occasional fish that would rapidly move out of sight.

Soon a current was jolting me toward hazardous sharp coral rock. When I resisted, it pulled me closer. After what seemed like an eternity of struggling, I noticed scores of fish beneath and around me, tiny black and gold striped ones and larger gray ones, all swaying gently, so peacefully, like a metronome, slowly moving back and forth, toward the shore, toward the open sea, but just a foot or so in each direction.

I stopped fighting, became part of the swirling melody, as the fish and I and the sea rocked back and forth for a while. Boundaries disappeared; we were one. As I lazily allowed the ocean to hold me, face down, relaxed and continuing to breathe through the snorkel, one group of fish after another came to me. Striped, bright-colored and speckled fish and long, thin, iridescent blue ones.

Soon I drifted into deeper water. As I began to float out to look for more fish, something made me look back. There they were, almost touching me — the most striking fish yet, in a rainbow of colors and sizes.

I sensed they were telling me: Let go. Stop trying so hard.

I experienced a keen insight. I wanted to remember it, let it guide me. This is what I realized: I don’t have to drive myself so hard to get what I want. I should trust that I will get what I need without knocking myself out. Blessings are in store for me; I just need to allow myself to be present to receive them.

Helicopter over Maui

As our time in Maui neared an end, my husband said he wanted to do something exciting. He suggested that we splurge on a helicopter tour of the island. So up we went, with mufflers on our ears to mute the sound. We viewed the huge Haleakala volcano from above. The pilot bluffed us into thinking we’d crash into a cliff he headed straight for. As we held our breath, at what seemed like the last minute, he took us high enough to clear it for a narrow escape. Okay, he knew what he was doing; his job was to manufacture thrills for tourists. That’s fine. He gave us an unforgettable, albeit hair-raising, experience.
Your Zest-Filled Adventure Can Be Anywhere

You don’t need to go to a faraway place for an adventure on your own or together. It might be trying a new sport, arranging a picnic, acting in a play, taking a class, going somewhere new, flying a kite, or any one of countless possibilities for whatever out of the ordinary experience you’re game to try.

When you venture away from what’s familiar, you’re likely to discover new things about yourself and your spouse. You’ll add zest to your marriage. Each of you, and your relationship, will grow.

Couple image available from Shutterstock.

Keeping the Spark Alive in Marriage

Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW

Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW, author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted (New World Library, 2014, audiobook, 2020), has a private psychotherapy practice in San Rafael, California. She offers and workshops for couples and singles, and continuing education classes for therapists at NASW conferences and online. She has taught also at the UCSF School of Medicine, UC Berkeley Extension, and Alliant International University. A former executive director of a family service agency, she earlier held senior level positions in child welfare, alcoholism treatment, and psychiatry.

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APA Reference
Berger, M. (2018). Keeping the Spark Alive in Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 27 Dec 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.