Dr. Harley shares the five most successful ways he’s helped couples in his clinical practice rekindle their love for each other:
1. Avoid Anger. Nothing destroys the love in a marriage faster than getting angry with your spouse. When you disagree, or you feel you aren’t being treated fairly, let your partner know without trying to hurt them. It sounds easy, but as anyone whose feelings have been hurt knows, it can be very tempting to punish your spouse in return. Don’t do it- it doesn’t solve the problem and it can create lasting damage to the marriage.
2. Make (Lots) of Time for Each Other. It has been said that in order to be successful at anything, we have to show up consistently and be willing to work hard, and marriage is no different. You simply cannot have a happy marriage without giving it the time it deserves, and even if you’re in the throes of caring for young grandchildren, working harder than ever in your career, or think you don’t have time to make your marriage your number one priority, Dr. Harley strongly recommends reevaluating your priorities. Making time for your spouse is critical for a successful marriage, to the point that Dr. Harley advises couples to spend a minimum of 15 hours a week together just to maintain their connection. He recommends more time for struggling couples who have lost loving feelings for each other.
3. Give Good Conversation. Use your time together to show interest in your partner, ask them about their day, and engage with them. If conversation has grown stale or boring over the years, Dr. Harley suggests thinking back to how you talked with your spouse in the beginning, when you would strive to know and understand them better. By doing that again, you’re likely to find that your spouse opens up, sharing their passions and interests with you, and talking becomes more enjoyable.
4. Play Together, Stay Together. Couples who engage in activities together associate their partner with what is often the best part of their day. By playing tennis, hiking, or going to the gym with your partner, you’re having fun and blowing off steam together. But what if you love yoga and your husband prefers to run? Dr. Harley says couples shouldn’t force each other to compromise. Instead, come up with more ideas to try together until you land on one that excites you both. It doesn’t mean he can’t get a run in on his own or you can’t hit your weekly yoga class. It just means that recreational time together is on the schedule too.
5. Sexual Fulfillment. Many couples struggle with meeting the other’s sexual needs, especially if one spouse has a higher libido. But, Dr. Harley finds that once the emotional needs are met by spending enjoyable time together and the couple is in love, sexual issues fall to the wayside. Couples who are in love want to meet their partner’s intimate needs, and will often have no problem doing so. While menopause can pose additional challenges, women are more likely to find solutions, like using vaginal lubricant to help with dryness, when their emotional needs are met.