It's Friday night when you look over at your spouse and it hits you: Didn't we do this exact same thing — dinner, couch, TV — last Friday night, too? Is this all there is?
As you ponder these questions, you're not feeling terrible about your domestic life. And you don't really doubt that you love your partner as much as you ever did. You're just … well, face it … kind of bored. And that's not a great way to feel.
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I am pleased to report, in no uncertain terms, that it's possible to revive the fun, the feelings and the passion that you felt in the past. To start, you need to turn off the television, put away that novel and focus on revitalizing your relationship. Here are some things you can do:
1. Widen your circle
New people can bring new perspectives — and new experiences — into the life you share with your partner. So seize the opportunity to expand your social circle to see where that might take you. If you meet a new couple, for example, who sail (or knit, or cook, or whatever), ask them to show the two of you the ropes. That might inspire you and your partner to take a sailing class together. You'll be energized by learning something new as a team — and by getting to know other people who are into it, too.
2. Step up — and sign up
Many people need help in the world today, so your time and talents are likely to come in handy. Perhaps you volunteer at your church or temple already, but how how about trying something new that will let you see your partner in a new light?
Depending on your circumstances, it could be something exotic: working to bring clean water to a remote village, for example. Or the worthy cause might be right in your neighborhood, such as providing support and respite for a burned-out caregiver. The aim is to do it together — and the result is often an accomplishment that gives you new things to respect about each other.
3. Break free of your comfort zone
Do something together you've never done before — especially if it requires you to stretch beyond your normal limits: Go white-water rafting … meditate in an ashram … camp out under the stars. Not only will this force you to serve as each other's support system and confidant, you'll be building shared memories you can tap together later on.
4. Change hobbies, not hubbies
It's not that his-and-hers hobbies are such a bad idea, it's just that they take you away from each other so much. So why not bond over a new, combined hobby? (Poetry writing, anyone?) Imagine the fun you could have learning to play the drums (or mix music, or sculpt) as a duo. If the two of you tackle a foreign language together, reward yourselves with a trip to the country where people seem to speak it without even trying.
5. Get up and go
It sounds extreme, I know, but moving to a new locale transforms your life and makes it impossible not to grow closer together as you share new experiences. Is moving out of the question? Consider a home exchange for a year, a summer, a month or a week. Exploring a new town or a new neighborhood — to say nothing of finding new favorite things to do or places to go — will dynamically refresh your relationship.
6. Book it
Join a book club for couples and you're bound to discover at least one or two opinions you never knew your partner held. If you can't find such a group in your area, organize one yourself. (Or a couples movie club, or a couples theater club — you get the idea.) Unless you love Proust while he's a fan of Grisham, lively and positive exchanges will most likely return to your relationship.
7. Head for the hills
A couples retreat offers a more structured way to forge new bonds. These retreats may center around yoga, walking or discussion — even intimacy and sexuality — with all activities guided by a talented leader. Skeptical? Put your cynicism on hold and dive right in: Most couples return from a retreat feeling newly recommitted and regenerated, both personally and romantically.
8. Learn some new moves — between the sheets
It's natural to find a way of making love that's pleasurable and fulfilling, then do it the same way time after time. So if your sex life has become a little too predictable, get an instructional video and experiment with something new (or refine a few old favorites). Videos are available from Lovers.com, Babeland.com or Goodvibes.com, and the directions for use couldn't be simpler: Watch, learn, experiment, enjoy!
9. Get a makeover — no, make that two makeovers
Image may not be everything, but it's something, so consider tweaking yours. Go to an expert hair stylist and say, "I'd like to change my look." Or seek out a personal shopper at a department store and challenge him or her, "Make me look good!" (And don't shy away from clothes you wouldn't normally wear.) After your day of changes, meet for dinner at a restaurant and flirt. You'll be amazed how new clothes or new makeup can make you extra desirable to one another.
10. Take a second honeymoon
Plan a grand romantic celebration of your relationship. Whether it's at the beach, a national park or some more exotic locale, even the toniest resorts are motivated to offer major deals in the "shoulder seasons" when tourist traffic subsides. Do something wonderful to woo each other — and to remind yourselves how good it is to be not just parents or grandparents, but lovers.