Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship would recognise the signs: going one whole day without texting, spending the night together without sex, dates are now just dinner and a movie, and – gasp – the fights are getting more frequent.
It’s not unusual. After all, you can only stay starry-eyed lovers for so long before real life gets in the way. And that’s not just an observation, it’s been scientifically proven. A group of researchers at New York University studied 400 couples and came to the conclusion that the honeymoon period is very real and lasts for about 30 months.
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Don’t start panicking just yet. Hitting a slump in your relationship doesn’t mean the love is gone, it simply means your love has evolved, says psychotherapist and mediator Jessica Lamb, founder of Relationship Matters. So don’t buy into the notions of #relationshipgoals you see in movies or TV shows, and throw out all expectations of an all-consuming love.
“In fact, the love that follows creates a deeper connection built on knowing each other really well, warts and all, and still choosing each other every day. When embraced, this is a very powerful and enriching experience,” assures Jessica. How do couples get out of this slump then? We asked the experts, and here are the three most important things to do after the rose-tinted glasses come off.
1. Show appreciation
When was the last time you thanked your partner? Or reminded him of why you fell in love with him? It doesn’t have to be super mushy stuff, but it’s nice to know that someone appreciates you. Remember to be generous with your words, and shower him with compliments frequently. Says Willy Ho, founder and lead counsellor at The Counselling Paradigm: “You don’t need to wait for big occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. Daily appreciations can mean a lot to either party.”
2. Make time for each other
Just like how you set aside time for exercise, you have to make sure you work in enough boyfriend time into your schedule. It doesn’t have to be a fancy date – it can be as simple as giving your beau half an hour of undivided attention. Use this time to talk about your day, or do something that the both of you enjoy, like taking a short walk around the block. “Think about what you need to feel more connected to your partner,” advises Jessica. We don’t want to scare you, but one of the major reasons why couples break up is due to a lack of quality time. Yes, sometimes there’s just too much work on your plate, but think of this as an investment in your relationship.
3. Try out new things
When you’ve been together for a while, things might start to get repetitive because you’d have developed a routine. “After years of dating, both partners will usually know each other quite well,” explains Willy. “Couples who want to avoid the slump need to look for new ways to bond, such as forming a new hobby.” In other words, find new things to do together to create new experiences. Switch things up by going on a holiday, trying a new sex position, signing up for a marathon or learning how to make soap – whatever floats your boat. If it looks fun, give it a try. But ultimately, you need two hands to clap when it comes to rebooting your relationship. And the key to making it last? “Both parties need to actively work on the relationship, rather than just going through the motions,” says Willy.
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