I heard once that people spend more time planning their wedding than their marriage. It stuck with me because it defies logic. Why spend more time planning a single day than the decades of marriage to follow? If you want the bliss to continue long after you tie the knot, here’s how to keep your romance alive when you're married.
1. Date each other.
And I don’t mean go out every Friday night to the same restaurant. If date night always looks the same, you can easily fall into a rut and soon it will feel about as romantic as going to the grocery store. Date inspired like you did when you first met. Try a new romantic restaurant, go for an early sunrise hike, or just talk until you fall asleep at night. Try a brunch date or something you don’t normally do. When you do the unexpected, trying new experiences or going out at different times of the day, it keeps the excitement alive.
2. If you want quality time with your significant other, plan it.
Get things on your calendar weekly, not just on birthdays and anniversaries. When it’s Monday, think up a fun plan for the weekend. Purposefully schedule future events — a concert, festival or sporting event, (whatever is your thing!) — so you have things to look forward to together.
3. Don’t stop caring about how you show up.
Yes, one of the comfy aspects of marriage is how you can be real around each other — hanging out in your gym clothes, going sans make-up or gaining (what I call) happy marriage weight. It’s wonderful to love each other unconditionally, but when you date, you put some thought into how you show up, so the point here is: Don’t stop caring about how you show up. Learn from what you did when you were dating.
4. Make it a no-secret zone.
Ever hear the expression that you're only as sick as your secrets? Romance needs one essential ingredient to survive and that’s intimacy. And you can’t have intimacy if you're keeping secrets from each other. Preserve your romance by communicating often, having total transparency, and making your marriage a no-secret zone.
5. Decide to spend more moments in joy than tension.
Ever go to someone’s house and it feels like tension soup? The air is heavy, the atmosphere tense, and after you leave you need a yoga class to decompress. Purposefully choose to have a joyful home instead. When you make a conscious decision not to have tension in your home, you will resolve conflicts fast, take the higher road more often and push yourself to be positive even in moments when you aren’t totally feeling it. And if you’re doing it right, other people just might tell you your home feels easy-breezy.
6. Skip the negativity.
Your marriage won’t resemble your dating life if you and your spouse compete for the title of Who is Right and try and prove each other wrong. If you take digs at each other, roll your eyes at your spouse, or dish out some form of negativity regularly, you could be eroding the relationship. Chronic negativity isn’t (successful) dating behavior.
7. Take care of you.
Hooray if you are always thinking of your partner’s needs. Boo if you do it at the expense of your own. It’s much easier to keep the spark alive in your marriage if the spark is still alive in you. Take that much needed time for your own goals and interests.
8. Ask for what you want.
Do you wish you did more spontaneous things as a couple? Hoping your spouse will start working less so he or she will spend more time with you? Don’t test your spouse to see if he or she is a mind reader. Ask for what you want. It’s a much quicker route to getting what you want than venting to your friends.
9. Do the things you did when you dated.
Do the small, simple things you used to do when you dated like holding hands, making your spouse a cup of coffee, snuggling up, wearing cologne or perfume or complimenting each other. Don’t let the security of marriage cause you to stop investing in the relationship. Small acts can add up big.
You can practice all of these things by just giving your marriage some conscious thought. What could I plan this week for some quality bonding time? How can I be a better version of me today? What could I do for my partner to make him/her feel loved and supported? Bottom line: Don’t stop thinking about your marriage just because you're already married. Date your spouse and an ordinary day can be as happy as your wedding day.