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Rekindling the Spark in a Long-Term Marriage

Rekindling the spark in a long term relationshipPeople tend to work very hard to get into that “once-in-a-lifetime” relationship. The honeymoon phase of courting and dating requires great effort to let the other know that she is special, that he is “the one.”

Falling in love with your partner for the first time is all-consuming. Maintaining the love and affection once a relationship is well-established also requires effort. Often the responsibilities of life, work, and children may get in the way of focusing on the love and happiness that one feels toward his or her spouse. Your spouse may start to feel more like your roommate than your lover. It is possible, and actually enjoyable, to recapture the romance and fall back in love.

There are many things that married couples can learn from newly-dating couples to help rekindle their spark and keep their marriage their number one priority. Here are a few:

  • Affection
    Hand-holding, hugging, and kissing are all forms of physical contact that are important in staying connected with one’s spouse. Kissing hello and goodbye and before bed should never be taken for granted. Walking hand-in-hand provides that warm connection spouses need. Never underestimate the power of the 20-second hug. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and releases oxytocin, which promotes strong bonding.
  • Flirting
    Flirting can make your spouse feel special and show that you are attracted to him or her. Texting something cute and flirty during the day shows that you are thinking of one another.
  • Listening
    Hearing and caring about your spouse’s day shows him or her that he or she is important to you. Listening to each other’s stories helps promote stronger connections.
  • Dating
    Dressing up and going out together helps strengthen your bond. Taking the time to dress up demonstrates to your spouse that he or she matters to you. Try new restaurants, explore new places, and go on adventures together. Having fun and laughing with each other is a great way to keep the spark alive.
  • Gifts
    Bringing home small gifts, treats, or flowers for no other reason than you were thinking of your partner lets him or her know that he or she is special to you; that he or she is loved. Picking out the gifts helps the giver continue to foster those smitten feelings.

It’s easy to forget to do these simple things when we get into the rut of daily life.

After living with someone for years, it is easy to build up resentment. Feelings of an unequal partnership can arise, with child rearing, chores and errands tending to be the main culprits. Letting go of these resentments, however, is important. Bitter feelings can end up leading to the deterioration of love, admiration, and rapport created over years of being together. Taking a good look at what you are expecting from your spouse can help in letting go of resentments. Communicating what you need from your partner instead of building up resentment is essential.

It is also necessary to rediscover the person you fell in love with and remember your original feelings and why you were attracted to each other in the first place. Focusing on those exciting feelings you had just being together, and remembering the warm sensations of being with each other, helps recapture the emotions and sparks of the past. Taking a trip down memory lane, remembering the dating as well as the life you are building together is fundamental in appreciating how far you have come together.

Remaining physically intimate is extremely important in keeping the spark alive in a marriage as well. Being committed to meeting each other’s physical needs and desires helps keep the flame burning and ensures genuine love. Sex reduces stress, anger, and anxiety and it increases happiness and contentment. By staying physically connected, emotional intimacy increases due to the feelings of trust and mutual respect.

Creating traditions together also helps keep the relationship meaningful and special. Looking through your wedding photos on your anniversary, going back every year to that special place where you were engaged, or a monthly date night to your favorite restaurant, are all personal traditions for your marriage. Sharing and enjoying in private and personal traditions exclusive to your relationship can be what is needed to fall back in love and keep the spark alive.

Marriage counseling can help couples navigate and create a greater understanding of each other, deepen emotional and physical bonds, and promote the closeness required to sustain the lasting, loving, and passionate relationship that couples desire.

Happy couple photo available from Shutterstock

Rekindling the Spark in a Long-Term Marriage

Staci Lee Schnell, MS,CS,LMFT

Staci Lee Schnell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She is currently the President of the Broward Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Coordinator for the South Broward/North Dade Chapter of CHADD. Staci is the President of SLS Therapy, Inc. as well as the Clinical Director and Owner of the Counseling and Wellness Center of South Florida. Staci received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Child Development from Florida State University in 1991. Staci then went on to earn her Master of Science Degree in Family Therapy as well as a Clinical Specialist Degree in Family Systems Health Care from Nova Southeastern University in 1993.

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APA Reference
Schnell, S. (2018). Rekindling the Spark in a Long-Term Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 18 Apr 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.