Want to inject a little magic into your relationship to bring back the ‘zing’? Here’s how!

It’s no secret that when there is a major change in dynamics such as a new career, adult children moving out or retirement, relationships can go through testing times. It’s an enormous shift bringing with it new challenges, yet there are opportunities for growth and renewal.

No matter what stage of life you’re at, there are several things you can do to keep things fresh, says couples therapist Peter Fox, from Here are Peter’s top five tips:

Tip 1: Make the first 4 minutes count
The most important time in a couple’s day, Fox says, is the first four minutes that they are together, or the four minutes before they part. 

“If you have an intimacy-sustaining connection with each other in the first four minutes then your body will tend to maintain that sense of connectedness and good will, even if it is challenged by subsequent disharmony,” he says.

“Whereas, if you get a disconnect then that tends to set the emotional tone for the following hours, too. Then there is little reserve of good will to deal with disharmony.”

According to Fox, you can activate the “cuddle hormone” by reaching for and holding each other the minute you see each other, without any distractions. You can also ask your partner to send you a message when they’re close to home so you can be ready to give them your full attention as soon as they walk in the door.

Tip 2: Date jar with a twist
If your idea of a brilliant date differs wildly from your partner’s, don’t worry. This is perfectly normal. But it doesn’t mean dates can’t work.

Fox recommends writing five to ten date ideas on paper and throwing them into a jar. Each week take turns in picking out a piece of paper, and discuss beforehand how to make the date satisfying for you both. This is where compromise is key. 

So, if he wants to go fishing, perhaps suggest bringing along a picnic rug so afterwards you can enjoy a wine and cheese spread by the lake. If she wants a candlelit dinner then perhaps it could be in a restaurant in his favourite environment.

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Tip 3: Take turns
Human beings tend to fall into ruts. He does the mowing, she washes the dishes. He prepares breakfast and dinner and she does the gardening. She does yoga and he watches the football. 

“Talk about the things you can share and consciously take turns doing those things, from the small stuff like making breakfast to the big stuff like managing the family finances,” Fox says.

Becoming more familiar with each other’s responsibilities and interests not only helps you to appreciate each other’s talents, but also assists in the development of an understanding and appreciation of the various pressures you each face as individuals. This leads to greater respect.

Tip 4: Give your undivided attention
“Look at each other the way you look at a beautiful sunset, rather than the way you look at a problem,” Fox says. “Look at your partner with wonder, with relaxation, with complete openness.”

“People rarely get anybody else’s full attention in this busy life. But if you can show somebody that you have the capacity to take them in fully, to even take in the things that might hurt you, then it is a wonderful gift.”

“For this you need real presence of mind, and this comes more easily to older people. But it can have an immediate and profound effect.”

Tip 5: Make “us” special
This is really about getting your priorities right, which sounds obvious but is rarely achieved, Fox says.

“When couples are very busy and used to each other they can forget to give each other the feeling that they are special.”

“What can you do? Surprise them. Do something unexpected. Look them in the eyes. Hold them close. Take them for a weekend away. Don’t treat your partner as if they’re just another transaction in your day. Treat them the way you’d never treat your mechanic,” he adds.

What are your best tips to keep the romance alive? Let us know in the comments section below.

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