How To Keep Your Relationship Fresh

by Kristine Fellizar

No matter how much you love your partner or value your relationship, it’s not uncommon to feel a little bored in your relationship from time to time. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. In fact, a 2005 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that the honeymoon phase lasts for about a year unless you actively work hard to maintain those feelings. But keep in mind, there are tons of things you can to do to bring the spark back into your relationship. As research has found, whatever you do, just make sure you and your partner try something new together.

"From personal and professional experience, I'd suggest couples try to create little surprises to make the other member happy like showing up for a date with your partner's favorite cookies or bringing a small gift that signifies an inside joke," Gestalt life coach Nina Rubin tells Bustle. "I also think it's important that couples get out of the TV routine and go out," Rubin says. "A night away feels very special or romantic, as does making a designated starvation at home where phones are not allowed for a period of time so the couple can truly connect and unwind together."

Arthur Aron, a psychology professor from Stony Brook University conducted a few of studies looking into this very issue. In a 1993 study, researchers took 53 married couples and split them into one of three groups. One group was told to pick “new and exciting” actives to do together for 90 minutes a week, another was asked to spend 90 minutes a week doing something “pleasant” but “routine,” while the third group didn’t change anything. Participants were asked to do this for 10 weeks, after which, researchers assessed the quality of their relationships.

As you may have guessed, the couples who tried new things together were found to be most satisfied in their relationships. Aron’s 2000 study split couples into two groups. One group was told to complete a “boring task” like walking back and forth together or an “exciting” one, which in this case was walking through obstacles while being Velcroed together. Relationship satisfaction was measured before and after participants completed their given tasks. Couples who did the more exciting task showed a greater chance in relationship satisfaction.

Not that falling into a routine is anything bad. According to a Wall Street Journal report earlier this year, boredom can actually serve "as a powerful signal to pay attention and step up your game." Inevitably, "It may even help you rekindle your connection.”

"When you try new things together you are creating shared experiences that are new and exciting," dating coach and licensed marriage and family therapist Pella Weisman tells Bustle. "That shared excitement is a way to have both closeness and stimulation, which is a great combination for sparking things back up." Here are a few ideas on things you and your partner can do to bring the spark back into your relationship:

1. Visit A Beautiful Place

“Whether it's local or out-of-town, witnessing natural beauty together is very romantic,” Weisman says. She suggests taking a hike, going for a dip, having a picnic and enjoy being tourists together because “new sights, sounds and tastes are wonderful to share together.”

2. Try New Things In Bed

Shake things up a bit and suggest something more wild, kinky, or sensual. As Weisman says, “Think about it as conducting a fun experiment together. If it works for both of you, great, you can add it to your repertoire. If not, you can laugh about it together. Shaking things up in the bedroom is a great way to create some new sparks.”

3. Get Active Together

Whether it's roller skating or parasailing, as long as it’s a fun new sport that neither of you has ever done, it's worth a shot. “Not only does this get you moving, it hopefully gets you laughing as you stumble through learning some new skills together,” Weisman says.

4. Get Cultural

This can be anything from watching a new play, hitting up a new art exhibit or going to a concert. “You will have your senses stimulated and have lots of new things to think about and talk about,” Weisman says.

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