4 min read

How to Rekindle the Spark in Long-Term Relationships

"Why don't I feel in love anymore?" "Is my relationship missing something?" "Would I be better if I ended my relationship?"
Woman trying to rekindle the spark
Image by Cottonbro Studio on pexels.com

Ever heard of the seven-year itch?

It describes the idea that after seven years of marriage or a committed relationship, you become unhappy with your partner. It was first popularized by the 1955 Marilyn Monroe movie, "The Seven-Year Itch." Thanks, Marilyn, another insecurity was added to the list.

But is there any truth to it?

One study followed 93 couples during the first ten years of marriage. The study showed a pattern:

  • The honeymoon phase of high passion
  • first decline in the first four years after the honeymoon phase wears off
  • stabilization of the relationship
  • another decline at around year eight, usually due to the birth of children

The statistics for divorce are not pretty.

Half of all first-time marriages end in divorce. Of all marriages that end, half of them do so in the first seven years.

While the number seven seems to be a coincidence, it highlights the importance of maintaining long-term relationships.

What Kills Long-Term Relationships?

Dr. John Gottman's studies recognized the "Four Horsemen of Divorce". The presence of these means a high likelihood of future divorce or an unhappy relationship.

  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness
  • Stonewalling

Other relationship killers are:

  • lack of quality time
  • lack of appreciation
  • breaking of trust

What is that "Spark"?

Spark. Connection. Lust.

Spark is usually used to describe the undeniable attraction and connection with someone. At the beginning of relationships, "spark" is what tells us if we want to continue seeing that person or not.

Often, people allude to a spark as a mysterious magic that brings them together. It is that invisible force that makes love songs suddenly make sense.

Although spark has its air of mystery, it is usually the result of feel-good hormones. Your brain produces dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin when you're attracted to someone. This addicting cocktail of hormones drives us wild for the other person.

With time, your brain doesn't react the same way. The newness fades. Mundanity settles in.

The spark fizzles.

Can We Reignite the Spark?

Know that saying, "The grass is greener on the other side?"

It's a lie. The grass is greener where you water it.

Once the spark fades, we can have inner turmoil about the relationship.
"Why don't I feel in love anymore?"
"Is my relationship missing something?"
"Would I be better if I ended my relationship?"

If you end your relationship because the spark has died down, what will happen in the next relationship after the honeymoon phase?

No relationship remains in the honeymoon phase forever. Thank god, that would be exhausting.

That burning bonfire of desire is usually replaced by a slow-burning warmth of a fireplace. It still needs tending to, but we don't want an all-consuming bonfire every day.

Rekindling and reigniting the spark takes work and intention. It isn't easy, but it can happen. It means choosing the relationship each day.

How to Rekindle the Spark?

1. Appreciate your partner

Over time, we often overlook our partners and their contributions. There is a tendency to overestimate how much we contribute to the household and to underestimate how much our partner does. If this continues untreated, it can build resentment.

Appreciating the other person will foster gratitude and happiness. Gratitude is found to have the biggest impact on our overall happiness levels.

Recognize your partner's contributions, big and small. Thank them.

2. Quality Time

Often, couples stop dating each other after moving in together or getting married. Having a partner constantly available makes us forget to prioritize "couple time."

Planning quality time together is essential to reconnect. It gives couples the opportunity to focus on the other and can be a good way to lead to physical intimacy.

3. Focus on Healthy Communication

Misunderstandings and frustrations happen. Learning how to calmly and healthily communicate is key to reducing tension and stress.

Notice any of the Four Horsemen of Divorce present in your relationship? Recognizing is step one. Addressing them is the next step.

4. Turn Towards One Another

Recognize your partner's bids for attention and turn towards them. Give them your undivided attention when they attempt to connect with you. Put the phone down. Actively listen.  

5. Reminiscing

Reflecting on the good times with your partner is associated with greater relationship commitment, satisfaction, and sense of closeness.

That nostalgia brings back some of those feelings we had at the beginning of the relationship.

We can do this by reflecting on some good memories:

  • What was your first date like? First impressions?
  • What has been your favorite date so far?
  • What has been your favorite vacation or trip together?
  • When did you realize you were in love?
  • What did you feel on your wedding day?
  • What accomplishment as a couple has made you most proud?
  • What is your funniest memory together?

6. Check-In Physically

Once we get more settled into a daily routine with our partners, we move on autopilot. Moments of flirtation, kissing, and playful touches become rare.

Check-in physically means giving little touches, kisses, butt-pats, and massages every so often. It is a way of indicating to your partner, "I'm thinking about you."

It can also help bring back some sexual tension. Each gentle (or not so gentle) touch is a chance of reminding your partner that you find them attractive. Sneaky touches are an even steamier way of spicing things up.

7. Bring Back the Romance

At the beginning of relationships, we are trying to woo the other person. We are on our best behavior. We dress up for dates and we give little gifts.

Bring back some of that romance. Buy little gifts. Write love notes. Ask the other out on a date.

Let your partner know you are thinking of them when you are apart.  

8. Try New Things Together

Getting outside of your comfort zone creates a bit of anxiety and releases adrenaline. It is the perfect way to fight the staleness and stagnation in a relationship.

A new activity can bring you both closer together as you navigate this uncertain territory.

9. Seek Help if Necessary

If you are more disconnected from your partner than ever and nothing is seeming to help, seeking therapy can help.

A mental health professional can help identify core issues that are unresolved. They can help keep conflict fair and healthy to move forward. They can provide the appropriate tools for addressing future issues.

Therapy does not mean failure. It means you are prioritizing the health of the relationship.  


The grass is greener where you water it.

The spark from relationships can fade and fizzle out once we get used to our partner. Keeping the spark alive and burning is key to having happy long-term relationships.

We can rekindle that spark by:

  • appreciating our partner
  • spending quality time with them
  • focusing on healthy communication
  • "Turning in" to each other
  • Reminiscing
  • Checking-in Physically
  • Bring back the romance
  • Trying new things together
  • Seeking help if necessary

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