New relationships are so thrilling because your world expands quickly as you experience your new love’s taste and pastimes.
And with anyone, after you’ve been together a while, the pace slows down. Routine is soothing, yet over time couples grow apart if they’re bored together. When Arthur Aron, Ph.D., a psychologist at State University of New York, Stony Brook, looked at data for 123 couples in their seventh year of marriage, if either spouse thought the marriage was “in a rut,” one or both spouses were more likely to be a lot less happy with the marriage nine years later.
To avoid that fate, Aron has simple advice: “Do something exciting or different frequently. My wife and I might stop in a bar and hang out, because we haven’t done that for years.”
A hot date is whatever is hot for the two of you. Your goal is to expand your world again, the way you did when your love was new. Odd as it may sound, one surprising secret is to break the “just us” barrier, letting in other people who will reveal you and your mate to each other in a new light.
Studies show that something as simple as hanging out or going on double dates with other couples can increase attraction and improve your bond with each other.
Or, try one of these five creative ways to break the “just us” barrier:
1. Play Parent
Parenting is a lot easier when your responsibility is only temporary. Take a niece or nephew or a friend’s child on a suitable activity and chances are you’ll be charmed by your hubby’s fatherly side—seeing him with a little hand in his. A happy child will make the two of you play—and give you fresh appreciation of a circus or zoo. I had been dating my man for over a decade when we had one of our best dates ever: a middle-school basketball game. I went to cheer on a student I was mentoring that year. He was hooting and hollering at my side each time her team scored.
In Jane Austen’s time, ladies at a dance glided from one gentleman to the other in a stately procession. It wasn’t the least bit boring. Traditional dances were basically the first speed-dating.
Nowadays, you can still find “contra” dancing in most big cities, or the American variation, square-dancing. As you flirt your way down the line, from the corner of your eye observe your mate briefly paired off with others. Catch him watching you. You’ll both become better dancers. And once you’re back in each other’s arms, you just might feel a rush of gratitude and remember how glad you were when you first found him.
Unlike tricky dances like swing and tango, line-dancing is easy enough to do without taking a class. The “caller” tells you what to do.
If you prefer free-for-alls to processions, skip ahead from 1792 to 1972 and try “contact improvisation,” which grew out of performances that year by Steve Paxton, a modern dancer with a background in tumbling and martial arts. This kind of dance is a little like Twister: you find one point of contact with another person—maybe you touch elbows, or the back of your heads. But it’s improv—you keep exploring spontaneously. People lean on each other, engage in play-fights and roll around on the floor, in ever-changing duos and some triplets and pile-ups.
Although many contact improvisers are serious dancers, “jams” across the country are welcoming to the inexperienced. All parties remain clothed and people avoid touching personal parts. Be creative. Make triplets with imaginative dancers and the two of you will find yourself in odd new shapes together.
Along those lines, some couples make it a goal for the evening to “pick up” a new friend—at a bar or on a movie line, or wherever opportunity arises. The object of your attention could be solo or a couple. No need to take a stranger home. Flirting is its own reward, and experiencing your team charm power could transform your night when you get home.
Maybe the two of you regularly share your political frustrations. Standing on the street asking people to sign a petition may be a scary idea—so get bold and see how persuasive and persistent you can be at each other’s side.
5. Pay a Visit to Someone Who Could Use One—or Give In Other Ways
Your capacity to give is one of the reasons you chose each other. He loves your generous ear and you love his way of lightening the dark with humor. Be kind together and visit someone who needs attention. That may not sound like a hot date while it’s happening, but it could be a romantic one, as you feel your love flowing outwards. I used to stay overnight at a homeless shelter volunteering as the “host” with my live-in boyfriend. When we both got home, we were incredibly glad to be in our home, together.