Rediscover That First Date Energy
Wake up. Deal with the kids. Work. Check on the parents. Somehow figure out something for dinner. Wait, where is the cat? Did someone feed the cat? Melt into the couch beside your partner with John Oliver on TV, as the two of you take turns farting and checking your phones. How did you get here?? New York-based psychotherapist Lesley Alderman, LMSW, and sex and relationship therapist Sandi Kaufman, LCSW, know how! And they can help you fix it.
MASTER THE ART OF CHECKING IN
If you feel like the two of you just haven’t been connecting on a level that you used to, the solution often lies in simply asking, “Hey, how are we doing?” Even in the whirlwind that is life, you can usually tell when your partner is bored or pissed off with you, so it’s better to address the situation as soon check in with your partner as soon as you do notice, rather than waiting until it gets to a boiling point.
There are plenty of new ways the two of you can feel intimate, and again, it’s as simple as asking your partner if they would be down. “It can just be introduced as, ‘I heard about this activity that deepens connection and intimacy, I know it may sound silly, but would you be willing to do it with me?’” says Kaufman.
LEARN YOUR PARTNER’S LOVE LANGUAGE
Oh yes, this again. Look, we get it — the whole notion of speaking to your partner’s love language is thrown around in conversation almost as frequently as the phrase “sparking joy” tends to be these days, but let’s hear Gary Chapman out. There is truth behind what he’s expressing in the now-infamous book, The Five Love Languages.
“Sometimes people don’t realize their partner is doing something for them because their love languages are different,” says Alderman. For example, if you’re the type to express love through words of affirmation, whereas your partner is an acts of service kind of person, there could be a disconnect, so it’s good to acknowledge the different ways in which you show each other love. Learning and understanding that can help to reinforce your bond, and better yet, create new rituals together. Alderman also advises couples peruse couples therapy books together, especially if they feel they are in a rut—and do the exercises and quizzes within said books. Taking a good, hard look at your dynamic, recognizing common traps you fall into, and doing overall research on your relationship can only prove beneficial in the end.
FOCUS ON THE LITTLE THINGS
Instead of focusing on grand gestures, show gratitude for your partner by focusing on the little things they’ll appreciate. “You want to feel that there is a special connection between you two,” Alderman says. Of course, it has to be authentic, but small gestures like leaving the short, occasional love note (swoon!), making an effort to walk the dog together, sending a text to your partner during the day, or even the way you greet your partner when they come home from work can make quite the impact.
BREAK OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
As you grow increasingly busy and familiar with each other, those early days of reckless-abandon sex tend to taper off (and truly, who has the time or energy to go naked bungee jumping or whatever), but wouldn’t it be fun to just do something different every now and then?
A workshop on tantra could be an interesting way to learn how to connect with your partner, while simultaneously being adventurous and respectful of your busy lifestyles. “It’s a partner workshop, and if it’s done right, it’s great,” says Kaufman.
One exercise taught in many tantra workshops is the simple act of eye-gazing, or, just holding eye contact for five to ten minutes with no conversation. Easy enough to do with each other at home, yet vulnerable and far enough outside the comfort zone to stir intimacy and emotion.
SCHEDULE INTIMATE TIME
This is not to say that you should be sending out calendar invites for sex. Rather, it’s about setting aside time for you and your partner to connect, whatever that may mean to you. For some, that could mean a spa night together. For others, it can be as low-key as grabbing a drink at a bar in the neighborhood or turning on some music and reading in bed beside each other.
“People don’t like the idea of scheduling intimacy or intimate time together the way you would schedule a yoga class or a PTA meeting, but the truth of the matter is, spontaneity just isn’t that possible with a lot of responsibility,” says Kaufman. Similar to Summer Fridays, there isn’t pressure to take every single Friday off, but you know, it’s nice to have the option.