Many relationships start off with lots of intensity and sparks – in fact, some relationships start off with more fireworks than Diwali could exhibit or that could simply light up whole cities. A couple of months down the line, it is likely that what’s left of these sparks is a pile of embers. Some relationships may fizzle out completely and leave a heap of ashes while some will thrive on; it is not uncommon to hear people say that their relationships have become boring or they are not as fun as they used to be.
When relationships are new, things are exciting; there is a lot to explore (or to be explored), new discoveries to be made and even the possibility of drowning in compliments. There is an enthusiasm, a passion that in itself drives the relationship; mostly, Eve and Adam will be high on adrenaline and won’t really pay attention to the ‘fuel gauge’. Alas! for those couples that wake up and realize that they are suddenly running on empty.
There are various reasons why this happens in relationships: it could be that beneath the sizzling fire of attraction, there’s nothing more to keep two people or that as they get to know each other better, the more their incompatibilities are revealed. For some people, when the initial attraction sizzles, they will decide to call it quits and move on. Some other relationships will have something more significant: whilst the fireworks may have been reduced to embers, there is some commitment towards staying with each other and they know that will a bit of fanning, the fire can crackle once again. This normally boils down to whether and how the values that each individual holds align in a relationship; sometimes, even in a long-term relationship, values may become misaligned thereby bringing forth the “we’ve grown apart” feeling.
Long-term relationships require Eve and Adam to know how to transition from initial attraction to the rest of it all (read real life :)) without completely extinguishing the fires that keep their relationship fun and exciting. At some point in relationships, we are bound to get bogged down with life especially when we begin to bear responsibilities for one another and our ‘products’; hard work is required and passion is likely to recede but it doesn’t have to die!
We have all come across advice on how to stoke and keep those fires burning: taking a romantic getaway, surprising your partner with a gift, spicing it up in bedroom (or out of it), etc. I read an article sometime last year in one of the local magazines where one of the readers was looking to revitalize the passion in her marriage; she loved her husband, still wanted to be with him but some fuse somewhere had blown. She entered a challenge where she and her spouse would practice ‘the deed’ every day for a month – I know! At first she did not share this with her spouse but after a week, she told him. He, not surprisingly, was unsure about the challenge and the publicity and only agreed to it (only?) if it was done based anonymity. At the end of the month and thus the challenge, the spark had been rekindled and then some; but also, she had come to realize that there were other things that need to be done in order to keep the fire crackling and burning in a relationship – and they have nothing to do with in being between the sheets.
One of the likeliest casualties in a relationship that is fizzling out is communication. Most of us have come across features in the visual and electronic media of old couples who have been together for decades and who have written each other (love) notes or even letters (remember those ;)) almost every day of their entire union; their testimonies being that this consistency in communication is one of the things that kept them together. The notes were not always filled with rosy words of affection but sometimes included expressions of disappointment, hurt, fear, forgiveness and assurance. To many of us this may seem tedious and predictable, but consistent communication was something important to the couples and they wanted to keep it alive in their own little way. This got me thinking about the article that talked about languages of love.
Now, I am not suggesting that we go out there and start writing letters or go into monthly marathons of you know what 😉 but what these experiences show is that in order to keep a relationship jazzed up, the engines have to be revved; sometimes it involves doing regular things that keep the bonds tight and sometimes it requires doing something different once in a while in order to rejuvenate your relationship. When things seem to be fizzling out, it is important to ‘diagnose’ what is causing the relationship to founder – no amount of adventures in between the sheets will rekindle a relationship whose foundation of values is about to crumble.
Sometimes it is as simple as remembering and celebrating what brought the two of you together as a couple in the first place.
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“Love is like a campfire: It may be sparked quickly, and at first the kindling throws out a lot of heat, but it burns out quickly. For long lasting, steady warmth (with delightful bursts of intense heat from time to time), you must carefully tend the fire.” ~ Molleen Matsumura