Whether you've been married six months or six years, you may be feeling something less than the head-over-heels infatuation you felt for your spouse when you were just dating. "It's difficult to keep a marriage going over the course of a long term," commiserates April Masini, relationship expert and advice columnist. But a lack of lust is something you can overcome-and even create. "Keeping your marriage hot increases your chances of keeping your relationship committed," she says. "Dating is what brought you to marriage, and so dating in marriage is important to keep the love alive and the commitment strong." Here's how to do just that.
1. Whisk your spouse out of the bedroom.
Getting it on doesn't mean you're getting it good. "Sex has a habit of getting stale when you do it in the same place every time," Masini explains. So keep sex and your relationship fresh by breaking out of the bedroom. "Booking a hotel room for a lunch break date or even a weekend getaway shakes up your romance in a very good way," says Masini, who adds that with each passing hour away from home you'll feel a revived interest in adventure and one another. "Something as simple as a new hotel room or a new city will give you both the opportunity to look at each other with new eyes."
2. Get your spouse a gift just because it's Thursday.
When you were first dating, it was likely nothing to drop your significant other a love note-or at least a love text. But as time went on, the habit of surprising one another may have faded away. It's time, Masini says, to work surprises back into your schedule. "Sending love notes, flowers, and gifts shows your partner that you appreciate him or her and it's not just rote," Masini explains. "It also shakes him out of any rut your partner has been in, and he or she will feel appreciated and will want to make sure you do too."
3. Make a date for a date.
Masini admits that it seems backwards to plan for romance, "because making and keeping a date night when you're married and busy may feel like a chore, which isn't how dating should feel." But wine in hand and excellent food in fork, "you'll relax into the date and feel like marriage is good because you can do this," she says. "It's easy to get booked up with other obligations and lose that connection to your spouse, so it's essential to connect over the course of a long term marriage. Regular date nights will make you feel like you've got a schedule commitment and a love commitment that makes the schedule important and possible."
4. Flirt often.
It may seem like your flirting phase has come and gone, but you can still tease and tempt your spouse. "Call your partner up during the day and talk sexy," suggests Masini. "Or compliment your partner by telling him or her how hot he or she is, what you like best about sex with him or her, and what you want to do with him or her later that evening." Not only will this back-and-forth banter give your spouse a confidence boost, but when you let your partner know how much he or she turns you on, "you're recreating that dating feeling and stimulating your marriage," Masini says.
5. Hold hands.
Masini explains, "Hand holding is one of the first shows of affection, and one of the first to be discarded when a relationship gets a little stale." Why? Masini believes it's easier for many couples to be together without connecting by hand, or any other way. "And yet there's nothing as pure and simple to show you're connected-to each other, yourself, and the world-than holding hands and strolling in the park, through the city, or on the beach," she says. "This will make you feel that rare combination of connected and unique because you're seeing the world through your own eyes, but that hand holding reminds you of what it was like to first connect in the most pure and simple and romantic way."