Keeping marriage fresh, finding space as a couple

- Hi Mary Jo,

I’ve been married for twenty plus years. How do I keep my marriage from growing stale?

Thanks, Keisha

Dear Keisha,

It’s normal for couples in long term relationships to go through periods of lesser and greater intimacy; just as you evolve and change, your relationship does, too. If you find yourself in a personal rut, your relationship will begin to feel stagnant. To avoid that situation, try these: 

  1. Create a couples bucket list. Make a list of things you’d like to try together as a couple and make it happen.
  2. Think outside the box with date night and begin sharing mini-dates. Even something as enjoyable as date night can become routine. Begin taking mini-dates, like going out for breakfast or meeting late afternoon for a coffee or tea. Changing up the routine creates excitement.
  3. Look for what you appreciate about your partner and tell them verbally. Couples who grow bored with each other focus on what they don’t like…not what they do.
  4. Work out together. It’s no surprise that couples who stay active together keep their relationship alive both physically and emotionally. When possible, go to the gym together.
  5. Attend marriage retreats. Your relationship is alive and continues to change. Couples who make an effort to grow their relationship and understand their partner keep it interesting. Attending retreats, listening to podcasts, and not being afraid to talk about issues will produce the most vibrant relationships. A good resource is www.smartmarriages.com.

Hi Mary Jo,

How does a couple find space for themselves when they live in a very small, tight, and cramped home?

Thank you, Kathy

Dear Kathy,

This is a frequently asked question for couples who are having children or taking in elderly parents. Time alone is a universal need, and I suggest you begin by talking to your husband about creating a space for each of you. Here are a few ideas that can help:

  1. Find one area you can claim as your own. Both you and your partner should respect the space as belonging to you. It can be as small as a corner of a room where you have your favorite chair, table, and things arranged in a comforting way for you.
  2. Claim early morning or late evening as “your time” for mediation, answering emails, or catching up with favorite reading materials.
  3. 3. Take time out of the house for meeting friends, attending activities, and surrounding yourself with what makes you feel vibrant.
  4. Work to resolve issues sooner to prevent them from taking up too much space. Deal with the elephant in the room so you have more room.
  5. Appreciate the fact that you have less space to clean, a smaller yard to care for, and more contact with your partner. Couples who have downsized or live in smaller places report closer relationships and improved communication after they transition to the loss of space.
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