Do you feel more like a roommate than a significant other to your spouse? Join the unfortunate club. "When two people get too comfortable and take each other for granted in a marriage, the spark can quickly fade," says Alisa Ruby Bash, Malibu-based licensed marriage therapist. "And when the romance dwindles, and the sexual relationship and emotional intimacy declines, you can start to feel like roommates."
But you can recapture the spark and start to feel like spouses once more with these five expert tips.
1. Check-in with one another every day.
"Even if you are tired, frustrated, anxious, or busy, make the time for each other," says Bash. Don't forget to ask how your partner is doing, and really listen to his or her answer. "By simply creating a ritual of sitting down together at the end of the day and sharing a few moments about what happened that day, how you felt, what upset you, and more, you keep each other in the loop about what is on your mind, and keep each other close," Bash explains.
2. Connect physically — with or without sex.
"Remember that happy couples are usually touching," says Bash. And that doesn't mean you have to schedule time for sex every day. "Even if sexual intercourse is not on the agenda that day, make sure you hold hands, cuddle, give each other massages," she suggests. "Make each other feel physically close, comforted, and pleased on the daily, because physical intimacy — even just a hug — increases oxytocin, the chemical that bonds partners together."
3. Laugh together.
"Although marriage is serious business, make time to lighten up," says Bash. "Instead of focusing on the taxes, the grocery list, who needs to do the dishes or pick their socks off the floor, just have immature, silly fun sometimes." How? You can "watch a hilarious comedy, have a few drinks, tickle each other, or talk about pranks you did as a kid," Bash suggests. "Laughing together makes you feel close, increases serotonin, and boosts the immune system too."
4. Be considerate of each other.
Roommates make plans without consulting the other — not spouses. "By simply including each other in your plans, asking what the other wants or thinks, you make your partner feel respected and appreciated," says Bash. "Doing those little things are really the big things — the glue that keeps you feeling loved and in love."
5. Establish and keep rituals.
Examples of rituals you might want to begin can be romantic — think: celebrating anniversaries in meaningful ways — or as simple as sitting down to watch a TV show together or enjoying a cup of coffee together each morning. "Connection rituals help couples feel they are sharing their lives with each other," Bash says.