The first few months in a marriage can be the most exciting. You have butterflies in your stomach when you see your partner, you are discovering multiple aspects of each others’ personalities, there are many things you’d want to do together and you also have high levels of tolerance. But as time passes, the tolerance levels start simmering down and dislikes start mounting. Small things may end up being blown out of proportion and physical intimacy also goes for a toss, especially after children. The honeymoon period ends. Positivity gets cancelled with anger and toxicity, and many couples are left with memories of that wonderful honeymoon phase.
Experts believe that though it is a lot of work to keep the spark alive, it is essential to do so to sustain the positivity and happiness in a marriage. To help with doing that, Meghna Singhal, PhD clinical psychology at Bengaluru's NIMHANS and trauma-informed psychotherapist, and Jigyasa Tandon, trained mental health educationist and counselling psychologist (sensitive groups), NIMHANS, share some tips.
Take time to check in with each other: It's easy to lose connection with your partner when the initial passion starts fading away. Take time, at least 15 minutes every day, to check in with how your partner is doing, beyond simply asking them how their day was. This doesn't sound very sexy but you'll be surprised at how many couples find this tip useful.
Laugh together: Research shows that couples who laugh more together tend to have higher quality relationships. There's a correlation between couples who laugh a lot together and report being satisfied with their partner. Laughing is said to be a supportive activity for romantic partners.
Communicate feelings beyond 'I love you': Words to validate your partner beyond the simple 'I love you' matter a lot in long-term relationships. Phrases like, “You mean a lot to me” or “I like it when you...” are extremely valuable in communicating feelings of love.
Do small things together: The small moments that you make time to share, be it cooking or working out together, can add value to your relationship. It gives the couple a sense of accomplishment and helps you discover and rediscover newer and older aspects of each others’ personalities.
Schedule time for intimacy and sex: With time and monotonus schedules, it becomes difficult to be intimate with each other. But it is essential, overtime, to plan ahead. Especially for couples who live with families and have children, it is essential to plan sex and intimacy. What’s more, planning ahead adds an element of anticipation and fun.
Maintain positive reinforcement: In the honeymoon period, there is plenty of appreciation, communication and gifting. There’s a lot of attention that is paid to small details too. This needs to continue even after the honeymoon phase is over. Keep appreciating each other, make effort to notice positive actions, communicate the nicer aspects.
Be patient with each other: For both individuals, marriage is a new and sudden change. A lot of things take a new turn and adjustment takes time. A marriage evolves over a period of time. Thus, it is important to be patient with issues that take place and give each other time and space to deal with them. Communication is the key in discussing ways to deal with problems and comfort levels.
Adapt to change: As time passes, there will be many new commitments that will take priority over the relationship. With most couples, children become the priority. Both individuals would need to learn to adapt to these changes and readjust their expectations about each other. Unlike before, you may not get the time to party, go clubbing or have movie nights. But then there might still be time to go for walks or explore some other activity. Both parties need to look at reinventing themselves, adapting and evolving together.
Build mutual respect: While physical intimacy and emotional connection are important, it is important to respect each others’ choices around these aspects too. Don’t do something for the sake of it. Have conversations, discuss your needs and wants, and understand each others’ choices.
Take healthy breaks: A relationship isn’t about smothering your partner or let yourself be smothered with love and affection all the time. At times, taking a break from each other and spending some quality time with yourself or with friends or family is healthy. Give yourself the space and time to rediscover yourself and miss your partner.