"One of the dilemmas of a long-term relationship is that, over time, the newness wears off, routine sets in and romance goes out the door," explains Marc D. Rabinowitz, a psychotherapist in Norfolk, Va. "Add in familiarity, resentments and unmet expectations, and couples end up getting emotionally distant. The more emotionally distant you become, the less likely you are to do romantic things or spend time together."
But with effort and commitment, you can keep romance alive. The payoff: "Having a romantic relationship will help you feel better about yourself and your partner," says Jennifer Jones, a couples therapist with the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. "It also will increase your emotional and physical connection, which can help you weather difficult times."
Try these five tips to rekindle the romance:
1. UnplugTechnology can ooze into your relationship if you're not careful. "Agree to turn off your cell phone, TV and computer during the first hour you're home together after work and spend that time catching up with each other," advises Jones. "Setting boundaries will help you create a space for conversation."
2. Speak upWhat passed for romance when you were first dating may not cut it after years of married life. "It's a misconception that it's not romantic if you ask him to bring you flowers or he asks you to send him a cute card," explains Jones. "Don't be afraid to ask for what would make you happy -- and ask your partner to tell you what would please him."
Be sure to use "I" statements when you make requests (e.g., "I'd love it if you'd surprise me with a new book") instead of "you" statements that sound defensive (e.g., "You never surprise me anymore.")