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Are you still dating your spouse?
Deadly wedding sins!
While growing up, we perceived marriage to be one long honeymoon, with the man and woman living happily ever after. As adults, we may have observed that keeping that bond strong actually involves a lot of time and effort. Life tends to move at lightning speed, leaving us with little time for romance. However, as experts have said time and again, you need to make the time. If you don't, your relationship could become dull and monotonous, even at an early stage.
So, how do you keep the romance alive? Start dating your spouse again!
Dating doesn't mean attending parties or family get-togethers. It means spending time with just each other, like it was during your days of courtship. You may ask, "But I'm already married, why would I need to date him or her?" Well, it's because one of the most important things a couple needs is a sense of continued romance and interest in their married life.
"Before marriage, couples go out together so they can be with each other. After marriage, as they are already with each other, they seldom go out together. As a result, they start taking each other for granted and forget how to have fun. This results in the marriage becoming lifeless, dull and emotionally distanced," says Anjali Singh, a 27-year old manager with a finance company in Delhi, who has been married for 3 years.
28-year old Pankaj Sharma, an executive with a recruitment consultancy who married a little over 2 years ago, confirms this: "A marriage needs attention in regular doses. My marriage started suffering soon because we were both too busy with our respective careers."
No bed of roses
Couples mistakenly assume that the fire of the honeymoon will continue to burn on its own. "The truth is real-life marriage is a hard balancing act of jobs, in-laws, children, cooking, paying bills, etc. The one person we love the most is often lost in this confusion. I experienced this after my daughter was born," adds Anjali.
Time is one of the costs involved in keeping a relationship growing. It's a payment that can't be held back without devastating consequences. Pankaj draws an interesting analogy: "Just as your bones become brittle if they don't get enough calcium, a relationship can weaken without enough attention."
Shalini Nigam, 24, a senior executive with an MNC who married a year ago, echoes this sentiment and thinks that every couple should ask themselves: "Is our marriage a priority, or do we give it only the leftovers of our time and energy?"
Dating your spouse has many benefits. It keeps the lines of communication open. It makes your spouse feel appreciated, important and loved. It helps collect new memories and renew your love.
What makes the perfect date
"All a good date requires is planning, novelty and creativity," feels Shalini. What's important is you get an opportunity to focus specifically on your relationship, and not just see each other as just a partner or parent. "When your marriage gets rocky, dating can even manage to save it," adds Pankaj.
"Manoj changed just three years into the marriage. I felt like I didn't even know him anymore," says Madhu Srivastava, 26, a teacher based in Lucknow. "It's true that, for every one thing you know about your partner, there are probably five things you don't know, because people keep evolving. We then tried dating again, and thankfully rediscovered each other's interests and dreams."
Don't let the fun end after your honeymoon. Take a day or weekend off to spend time together free from distractions. By spending quality and focused time with your spouse, you can nurture your relationship and ensure the initial spark never fades. Start dating your spouse all over again and see the positive difference it makes to your relationship.
Try to get out of the house, as home will remind you of domestic matters.
Movies and other entertainment where you don't face each other, are not preferred. "It is preferable to face and focus on each other, as you yourselves are the entertainment," observes Shalini. Don't invite others and don't attend any social gathering, as the date should be for you and your spouse only. Spend at least a couple of hours together, not just an hour.
Listen to your spouse. What is he or she always wanting to do? Try to incorporate it into a date. Whatever you do, focus on each other. Dating is not about what you do -- it's about you.
While going on a date, you need to 'connect'. For example, if you go to the shopping mall and read a magazine while your spouse shops, that is NOT a date. But, if you help him or her select an outfit and enjoy the experience, you will connect.
You can make your date extra special by buying a gift for your spouse too. "It will make them feel important and loved," says Madhu.You must also be consistent. "Try to initiate dates every week," advises Anjali.
Ask your spouse out on a date in a romantic way. "You can give them a flower or romantic poem," says Pankaj. Put an invitation on your spouse's steering wheel in the morning, stating the time and place to meet. Or, send a small flower bouquet to his or her workplace, with a special message saying, 'I can't wait to see you tonight.'
Go for a walk at sunset, in the park or by the beach. "Simply taking a walk is a great way to get some exercise as well as spend quality time with one other," says Pankaj. Try a picnic under the stars. "You can take a basket of your favourite snacks, a blanket and portable CD player, and go to a spot away from the hustle and bustle of the city," suggests Anjali. Take a book on astronomy along and hunt out constellations. Play some romantic love songs, dance, and just enjoy your time together.
Take a dance class together. "Dancing is fun and can help bring intimacy back into a relationship," feels Madhu. Become a tourist in your own city -- tourist spots provide great venues for a date. You can visit historical sites, parks, gardens, art museums, amusement parks, etc.
Learn a new foreign language. If possible, you could even plan a romantic getaway to the country where it is spoken. "My husband and I learned a bit of German as a hobby together, and say 'Ich liebe dich' ("I love you") to each other often," says Shalini. Now, that's a good idea.
Are you married? How do you keep the romance alive? Share your tips and experiences.
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