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The Naked Truth

How to Keep the Romance Alive

Expert advice on rekindling the passion in your long-term relationship

Here is the transcript from the online chat with Dr. Pepper Schwartz on Aug. 5, 2010:

Question from Lynn: What advice would you give someone [who] has been married for 28 years to keep romance in their relationship?

Pepper Schwartz - Relationships - Love & Sex

— Charles Gullung/Corbis

Pepper Schwartz: Well, I guess you need to change things up. You can't keep things fresh if you do things as you've always done them. So here are five new ideas:

  1. You need to develop a new hobby together. It could be woodworking, gardening, etc.
  2. Do something new that's physical. Learn how to dance. Or hike.
  3. Do something creative together. Take a painting class, or a poetry workshop.
  4. Volunteer together. Making a difference really bonds couples.
  5. Go someplace together you've never gone before, and make new friends.

It’s easy to renew a relationship if you make it a serious goal.

Question from GretchB6: I want him to notice me! After 31 years, I feel invisible. How do I shake things up without feeling foolish?

PS: Great question, GretchB6. Why not go on a paint-up, fix-up campaign? Exercise, get a new hair color. If it's short, grow it; if it's long, cut it. Think of something to do that he would never expect you to do. If you wear a T-shirt to bed, get a black nightie. If you're the wholesome type, put a paint-on tattoo on your shoulder. Surprising your partner is actually pretty erotic.

Question from Amyswrite: Timing’s everything. What happens when the timing is always off? "Scheduling" romance just sounds the opposite of romantic.

PS: Ohh .... good one. I don't' think scheduling is unromantic and here's why: Remember when you were starting to date someone and you had to wait a week to see them? Remember the anticipation? So scheduling isn't the issue ... it's what you schedule and how you lead up to it that makes a difference. Schedule a romantic drive, a perfect place for drinks and a great B and B, and it will only add to the experience as opposed to [making] it dull. Remember, that there's some couple-time you have to protect. If you let everything else come first, you're investing in those other things, not your marriage. You need to make sure that quality time is planned for, and then figure out how to make it fun and sexy.

Question from Bob: Would you say distance makes the heart grow fonder? Sometimes, some time apart can give you some breathing room.

PS: Yes, Bob, some time apart makes you appreciate each other. But too much time apart can make you wonder why you're together. There's a thin line between having a good amount of independence — and neglecting the relationship. So a guy’s golfing weekend occasionally is a good thing. But having a guy’s golf weekend EVERY weekend is not so great.

Question from Carolsrp: My husband and I own a business together, so it is hard to keep my husband from making couple-time into business rehash. Ideas?

PS: Carol, Make your bedroom a No Business Zone. In fact, create a time every day that is a No Business Zone, too, and stick to that rule unless it’s an absolute crisis. It's extremely important for people who work together to stop intrusions of work into their personal lives together. You could use a transition time, like having a drink at the end of the day or a cup of coffee, that signals the end work time.

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