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The Naked Truth

How to Keep the Romance Alive

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

Question from Guest: We had a lot of property in 2006. Of course, we either had to foreclose [or have a short sale] after depleting all of our money trying to hold on to [the property], thinking things would get better. Emotionally, we are exhausted and dead. How can we work on our love life now?

PS: I'm sorry for what you're going through. I think now you need to concentrate on what gives you the most pleasure, and there are plenty of things in that category that don't cost a lot of money. If you like being surrounded by nature, take picnics in the park or go on free tours offered by zoos and county parks. In fact, most cities and counties have a huge number of offerings that are free for residents. Whatever it is that makes you happy, you need to take that time so you can remember that even though there's been economic fears and disaster, the fact you have each other is precious. And you can still give each other comfort and hope. When you're together, think of things that would be fun to plan, things to look forward to, and have the fun of realizing some of those goals. Keep away from activities, such as a good but depressing movie or book, that will bring you down. Keeping your mood up and happy as much as possible will be a gift you can give each other.

Question from Susan: Do you think it's OK for long-married couples to keep secrets from one another?

PS: Great question. Depends on the secret. I'm not a big fan of telling things to a partner that will (a) not help the relationship, (b) be painful to your partner and (c) have nothing to do with the rest of your lives together. For example, if you'd rather not talk about your sex life in high school, I don't think you need to talk about it. On the other hand, if this is something that informs how you act or feel about something important, you're denying your partner a way to understand you and perhaps support you by withholding what's going on inside your head.

Question from Guest: My husband and I have been married for 25 years, and we've gotten along very well. But we've lived in a big house and sometimes like each other best when we're on separate floors. We're now empty nesters  moving into a smaller space. Any advice on how we can NOT get in each other's hair?

PS: Spend some time out of the house and give each other some "psychic space" when you’re inside the house. By that, I mean if your partner is reading, DON'T interrupt that. If your partner is on the phone in one room, stay out of it. Give each other a little more space, both physically and mentally, than you might have had to [do] in the bigger house. Relationships can feel too close. So make sure you have a schedule that gives your partner some alone time. And if [he doesn’t] understand you need that, too, then tell [him], and be specific about what you need — but make sure your partner doesn't take it personally. A lot of people need time to meditate, for example, and it’s not about anyone else but their own need for this kind of psychological exercise.

Question from Guest: What would you consider flirting?

PS: Ah, I love flirting .... There are certain kinds of looks you exchange with your partners. That playful look in your eyes, a sultry stare, a suggestive phrase. Ones such [as], "I have plans for you ..." That gets your partner thinking about you in an intimate way and also makes them feel appreciated.

Question from G: When are you writing another book? Your last one was wonderful. I gave to several friends [who are] over 50.

PS: Thanks for the shout out, G! I'm thinking about a couple topics now, in fact: One book on romantic travel and one on women’s lack of self-confidence in love. Just [bouncing] around some topics now. Stay tuned. We'll certainly let you know!

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