When you’ve been married to someone for so long, it’s natural for you to lose the butterflies in your stomach and that initial sense of the warm and fuzzies you felt being together. Those feelings sometimes go away when you are comfortable with each other, but it is possible to be too comfortable. When you get too comfortable, you forget each other without realizing it. Eventually, you and your spouse feel like you are miles apart, though living under the same roof. This emotional distance creates a riff between you two that can only be mended if you make sure to stop, take a breath, and try to get back on the same level. Starting almost from scratch to rekindle your relationship will be difficult, so here are some crucial steps to take in the process.
You may have heard that it’s important to be friends with someone before you start dating him or her, but what about still being friends when you are married to that person? As silly as that sounds, it is easy to forget that you two are on the same team, especially when life at work and home seems to separate you for most of the day. When you make an effort to spend time together, you’ll see each other as true companions rather than roommates.
As friends, you will have already connected emotionally. This connection establishes a deeper trust in each other and allows you to relate to each other in ways that may not come as easily if your relationship is lacking in emotional intimacy. So, when you and your spouse decide to continue dating each other, you are ensuring that you two stay connected. That way, you will be able to avoid a syndrome called “Two Ships Passing in the Night,” in which you and your spouse will cross paths in your own house but hardly exchange more than a few words before parting ways again. With an emotional connection, not only will you two continue to have a mutual understanding of each other, but you will also find it easier to communicate when problems arise.
It’s completely normal to disagree with each other from time to time. In fact, disagreements are often what keep any relationship alive because they open up windows for discussion, encourage open-mindedness, and even strengthen the relationship, but that does not mean they have to turn into a fight. Now that you’ve established you’ve got each other’s backs, every little scuffle will not feel like a battle between who is right and who is wrong; instead, it’s only a disagreement, and one that can be resolved by finding middle ground or even agreeing to disagree. Even if you cannot come to an agreement, you and your spouse can let go of the anger and prioritize each other’s feelings as best friends do.
When you choose to date your partner, you are making a conscious effort to dedicate time to them. Your relationship will become a priority instead of simmering on the back burner while the rest of life takes over. In order for this to work, the effort must go both ways. Hold each other accountable by taking turns coming up with date night ideas, by making sure you check in on each other throughout the day, and by reestablishing deeper communication whenever necessary. When you see each other making this effort, you’ll feel that initial excitement from when you first got married, and you’ll remember why you decided to marry that person after all.
So, how exactly do you date the person you married? What if you don’t have the time or the money that you used to have earlier in your relationship? It’s not as difficult (or expensive) as you think it would be. Here are some date night ideas for when you can’t afford to take a long vacation or eat at a five-star restaurant:
- Run errands together. Errands don’t have to feel like a hassle. Get your spouse in the car with you, put on your favorite tunes, and make a game out of your shopping expedition. Whoever completes their half of the grocery list wins!
- Work out together. Maybe one of you likes to work out while the other does not, or maybe you have separate workout schedules. Whatever it is, having a workout buddy will motivate you to get your blood pumping, and you’ll be able to give each other tips and tricks while working out.
- Walk the dog together. Take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood after dinner with your fur baby. You may even be able to catch the sunset.
- Have late-night talks. It’s hard to talk about more personal things when the kids are awake. So, after they go to bed, spend at least an hour talking to each other or simply relaxing in each other’s presence. Comfortable silence is okay! Take this time to unwind and tell each other about your days.
- Go on cheap (or even free) dates. Dates don’t have to be expensive in order for them to count. Look up some local attractions to visit, such as a festival, an open-air market, or an exhibit that lets you get in for free. Get some candy at the corner store and sneak it into a matinee show at the movie theater. Meet up with each other during your lunch breaks at someplace affordable. When you truly value your time together, the amount of money you spend on each other does not matter.