We splash out on youth-boosting lotions but rarely invest as much in keeping our relationship young and vibrant. Follow our guide to getting your spark back
'There are three key factors in every relationship - you, him and the relationship itself,' says Dr Max Blumberg, a psychologist specialising in relationships. 'Each separate factor needs feeding and nurturing, as if it's a living thing.' In the first flush of love, we naturally nurture all three parts, but as relationships age, it's easy to let them stagnate and drift. Max suggests a monthly walk with your partner where you hold hands and speak only about 'The Relationship'. 'Treat it as a separate issue - away from you and him - discuss where it's going and what you both can do to keep it young,' he says.
'Just as we exercise to keep our bodies feeling young, waking up our relationship with a fresh high-energy endorphin hit is just as vital,' says Annie Bennett, psychotherapist and author of The Love Trap (Hammersmith Press, £12.99). She advocates rediscovering things you enjoyed doing when you were young - such as go-karting or flying kites -as grown-ups to help you keep that honeymoon high. 'By trying out activities together, your brain will come to associate your partner with novelty and excitement, which is important if you want to keep things fresh,' says Annie.
We've all wanted to strangle our partner with the socks he's left on the floor; the odd row is just a normal part of coupledom. But as your relationship grows older, the pattern of your arguments can be insightful, especially if you tend to drag up old rows within new ones. 'Arguments are often multi-layered and if you leave any layers unresolved, they can come back like a destructive boomerang,' says Max. He recommends tackling your next row in three stages: manage it; resolve it; move on from it. 'Then make it up to each other with five positive experiences - they can be anything, even tiny gestures such as having a hug straight after an argument,' he says. 'These experiences will help you associate each other with a happy moment and stop discontentment from building up.'
Thinking back to what made you first go weak at the knees - and taking steps to rekindle it - can take years off your relationship. Max recommends starting with a good old flirt. 'Everyone flirts when they first get together, it's probably one of the things that attracted you to each other,' he says. And just because you now know everything from when he cuts his toenails to what he says in his sleep, it doesn't mean you can't flirt again. 'Next time you're going out, get ready and go separately, then meet up at your destination. Flirt across the room before you get together - it can bring out a whole new side to the relationship.'
'The whirlwind we experience when we first fall in love doesn't have to blow itself out,' says sexpert Tracey Cox, author of Sextasy (DK, £14.99). 'When you first meet, it's a physically intense experience. Everything seems perfect and you feel intoxicated as your body releases feel-good chemicals,' she says. You can't secrete these lustful hormones indefinitely, but you can replicate them by becoming 'sex partners' again. 'If you've turned into friends rather than lovers, you need to send stronger "I'm up for it" signals!' says Tracey. 'And do something different. Even a familiar touch can feel wanton under a restaurant table!'
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