Once upon a time, your spouse was your FAVORITE person on Earth. His or her every thought, word and deed captivated you ... so much so that you pledged your undying devotion to each other "until death do us part."
Flash forward a few years (and perhaps a few kids) later and suddenly your spouse doesn't rock your world quite the way he or she used to. Sure, you love your partner. You even like your partner. You just find yourself going days (weeks, months) without feeling any real connection and it gets harder and harder to recognize what made you fall in love with this person in the first place.
I reached out to a few respected relationship experts to find out if daily adoration of our forever mates is even possible.
And, good news: It turns out, looking at your spouse with love-dazzled eyes again isn't as hard as people think ... no matter how many years you've been together. All that's needed is some simple, consistent effort and a sincere willingness to choose your spouse anew each and every day.
Here are four simple yet powerful ways to feel captivated by your spouse again:
1. Begin by choosing YOURSELF.
When you feel out of sorts with yourself, you tend to transfer that feeling of discontent onto your partner (usually by finding fault with his or her every move). "Relationships often reflect the deepest part of ourselves," says dating and relationship coach Clayton Olson. "Whether or not you choose your partner usually reflects how truly you choose yourself. Self-love is a requirement to true love. Accepting and loving yourself, just the way that you are, allows freedom to love and accept your partner without trying to change them."
So, today (and every day) be a little kinder to yourself. Start focusing on things you like about yourself (versus nit-picking yourself constantly). Then share some of that accepting warmth with your partner.
__2. Take time (without fail) to focus just on each other ... even just for a few minutes. __
"In the beginning of a relationship, we focus a lot of time learning everything we can about each other," says marriage coach and counselor Lesli Doares. But quickly 'life' takes over and our spouse gets bumped to the back burner as other tasks and priorities take precedence. Show your partner he or she is still what matters most to you by making a ritual of spending focused time with each other, even briefly.
"Taking at least twenty minutes per day to deeply focus on your partner (and their day) makes them feel so important and like you really do still care," says Doares. "So, put your phone down, turn the TV off, back away from the laptop and look your partner in the eye while you talk to each other or hug for a few powerful minutes. Those brief respites of loving focus will help keep you both feeling charged and deeply connected the rest of the day."
3. Touch your partner without needing it to always turn sexual.
We've all heard how important frequent sex is in marriage. But unless your partner still feels truly chosen by you, the quality of your sex life will likely decline quickly. Personal relationship coach Lewis Brown Griggs recommends letting "less sexuality win any time a non-interest in sex is sensed or requested."
Instead of rejecting or snubbing your partner in those moments, show your partner that you happily choose him or her, even when sex isn't happening. Treat your partner with tender care and sweet affection at those times. Griggs says, you'll "notice an enormous mutual benefit not only from being more tender and sensually connected, but often a more loving and intimate sexuality emerges from that tolerance of sex sometimes not being desired."
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__4. Thank your partner for something every single day. __
It's so easy to take your partner for granted, but the truth is — he or she doesn't HAVE TO do anything for you. So make a point to more frequently recognize the kindness and effort your spouse pours in your direction. "We often miss opportunities to thank our spouse or partner," says licensed professional counselor Elizabeth Casey. "We don't have to wait until our spouse moves heaven and earth to say 'thank you;' there are small moments every day when you can make your partner feel appreciated. Say 'thank you' for taking the garbage out, for making sure laundry is folded, and all the little things that make a big difference in your life!"
Look, the day you married your partner you promised to look at him or her with love ... forever.
The best way to make good on that promise — (remember, you did say "I do!") — and keep your marriage vibrant for a lifetime is to happily show your partner you still chose him or her today! Watch your marriage light up with love and fun when you start treating your spouse like your sweetheart again.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.