School closings & delays

How to keep the spark alive in your relationship

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Jobs, kids, and all the typical life stresses can put a strain on relationships with our significant others.

Natasha DeHaan, nurse practitioner and sexuality counselor with Spectrum Health, says there are some ways to keep that spark alive.

For couples with deep-seeded issues creating serious trouble for their relationships, DeHaan say keeping the spark alive won't solve much.
but if it's a solid relationship in which one or both people have just gotten complacent, these helpful tips just might work.

It's no surprise intimate relationships go through stages.

"I do see a lot of couples that are very codependent and it's a lot of blah time together, like sitting around," DeHaan explained. "Like, you see each other all the time but you're not really seeing each other."

Often time, keeping that connection goes beyond the physical.

"One of the biggest frustrations is not feeling valued, or heard, from their partner. So, it's really hard to want to be intimate."

DeHaan said it's normal to for the first stage of a relationship to be more exciting and adventurous. It's called the limerence period.

"We have this big surge of dopamine and that is why, in those early stages in the relationship, you tend to be more intimate more frequently," she said. "And, the little annoyances that may bother you later on are easier to brush off and everything your partner says and does is amazing and wonderful."

How long that lasts typically differs for couples.

"That does start to fade off and the deeper questions start to be asked, like can I be my worst self in front of you."

Add children and job stress, and DeHaan says it's easy for couples to forget how to value one another.

It may come as no surprise that one way to get that spark back is designating phone-free time every night. Another way is remembering to date your spouse once a week.

"It can be difficult with kids and finding a babysitter, but making that a priority."  DeHaan explained. "It doesn't have to be expensive. It could be just going for a walk or having a neighbor come over while you grab a coffee.

While it helps to remember what attracted you to your partner in the first place,
it's also beneficial to start seeing each other in a new light.

"So, going to a cooking class together, or a dancing class, or something where it's new and it will create those new neuropathways that can change the way you see and think about them."

If all else fails, it doesn't hurt to just come right out and ask your partner.

"Just communicating with them and asking, what can I do to make you feel loved, and then doing that once a day."

DeHaan recommends her clients get the book "The Five Love Languages."

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