During a recent fitness class at Toronto's Ella Centre for Parenting and Pregnancy, my instructor asked me what topic I was writing about this week. I told her about this article and my fellow moms immediately jumped in. After all, if anyone needs a bit of romantic rekindling – between the diaper changes and the sleep deprivation – it's new parents. One woman suggested a weekend at the spa. Another proposed getting a wax, stating emphatically that if you don't feel sexy, why should your partner think you are?
Nancy Hurst, a psychologist and marriage counsellor in Edmonton, says romance is about connecting. "When you feel connected, when you feel close to the other person, when you feel the other person is listening to you, that is where romance begins."
What can you do to revive your relationship? Follow our 10 simple ways to get you back on the romantic track.
1. Enjoy the details
"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important," said Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sherlock Holmes creator may as well have been speaking about romance. "The little things that my husband has done, like leaving me notes that say 'Have a great day, I love you,' are really nice," says Julie Dupoire, a mother of two. Hurst also suggests calling your spouse at work just to say hello and taking a few moments in the evening to recap the day's events.
2. Talk it out
Flowers, music, chocolate – all are wonderful romantic gestures, but if one half of the couple has some underlying resentment, maybe because they had no help with the kids that day, then any gift becomes pointless. "The more there's a connection, the more you feel close about your relationship, the easier it is to get through the conflicts," explains Hurst. "A solid base makes things less volatile." Dealing with your issues will lessen any strain or stress and open up the lines of communication – and reception to romantic notions.
"At this particular stage of my life, running after a toddler and seven months pregnant, I find my husband's massage at the end of the day is a great way for us to reconnect, not to mention relax," says Marsha Moshinsky, married for 12 years. Physical contact, be it kissing, hugging or holding hands, is a simple way to show the other person how you feel, even when those tender moments may be fleeting with the kids yelling and the dog barking in the background.
4. Go out on a date
A night out is a great way to reconnect with your partner, and if you can ritualize date night, you'll always have something to look forward to and get excited about. "We have my parents come to our place once a week," says Howard Wiseman, a father of two. "It allows my wife and me to get out together and talk."
Page 1 of 2 – Strengthen your bond with your partner and intimacy will follow – we'll show you how on page 2.
5. Be kind
A compliment goes a long way to making someone feel special and important in your life. "Small gestures of appreciation – even if it's just a simple thank-you – for doing the mundane tasks necessary to keep a household going are appreciated," says Marc Reppin, married for five years. "It sends a message not only of appreciation, but also of respect and commitment that you are in this together."
6. Get physical
According to a recent report by the University of Chicago, Canada, along with Austria, the United States and Spain, was one of the most sexually satisfied countries in the world. The study also found that in Western nations, about half of the men and one-third of the women said sex was extremely important in their lives, and that in relationships based on equality, couples are more likely to have sexual habits that meet both partners' needs. (The findings are based on a survey of approximately 27,500 people aged 40 to 80 in 29 countries.) So, what does this all mean for romance? A little bit of wooing sends the heart aflutter, while sex is a special bond between partners that helps maintain and strengthen a relationship.
7. Surprise each other
Receiving something unexpectedly is always exciting (as long as it's good news) and brings a smile to both partners' faces. "I love to surprise my wife with tickets to a play or show," says Randal Schnoor, married for 12 years. "I place them on her pillow and she just melts. We rarely get a night out on the town these days, especially now that we have a young child. It gives us a special day to look forward to."
8. Do something together
"We travel a lot and our romantic moments seem to occur abroad," says Ayanna Durant, who's been with her boyfriend for three years, "likely due to the fact that in a strange city the only people we really know are each other." She also says she'd love to sign up for a class or workshop in something both she and her boyfriend love doing or have always wanted to do. Hurst adds that even simple moments together, like reading the paper and talking about it, throwing a dinner party or exercising, can encourage passion.
9. Do something apart
Everyone needs some time to him or herself, as much as you may love being with your partner. "Allowing your partner time away from you is important to the health of your relationship," says Reppin. "The time apart, properly spent, revitalizes your partner and your relationship. And because it relies on trust to work, it strengthens your relationship, too."(Discover some great activities to do on your own.)
10. Do it every day
There is no set schedule to being romantic or being romanced. Making the effort every day is what will keep your relationship strong. "I don't mean to downplay grand gestures, but if the other stuff isn't there, the grand gestures won't make it," says Hurst. "Ask your partner what they need, what they want. Then include those little things every day to keep the romance going."
Page 2 of 2 – Rediscover the fun in wooing your mate on page 1.