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Shaking Yourselves Out of a Romance Rut

For many couples, boredom begins to creep into their interactions and shared interests. Their relationship has gone stale, and they can't seem to make the change by themselves. Change can be frightening, but not changing can be deadly (at least to a relationship), so you have to give it a try.

Be daring! You don't have to resort to skydiving or bungee jumping. The breath of fresh air could be as simple as watching a different TV show than you always do or as elaborate as going to the airport and buying two seats on the first available flight, no matter where it is going, and taking off for the weekend. Following are some suggestions that fall somewhere in between these two extremes:

  • If you've always had long hair, cut it off. In addition, if you've always been clean-shaven, grow a mustache or a full beard.
  • Even if you both like rock music, the next time you have some extra money for a concert, buy two tickets to see an opera or a philharmonic orchestra.
  • Rearrange the furniture in your living room.
  • Hire a limo to drive you to a family picnic.
  • Wear a semi-sheer blouse without a bra when you go out to dinner.
  • Cover yourself with washable tattoos before going to the beach or a pool party.
  • Dress in your fanciest clothes, bring along a candle and some matches, and have dinner at McDonald's.

Setting aside time for each other

When a resource is scarce, you have to allocate it carefully. Rather than just hope that your schedules will change someday so you can spend some time together, make that time a part of your schedule. Make plans in the morning to go for a walk after dinner that night.Sign up for weekly dancing lessons and make sure that you both attend every week. Make plans to go antiquing the next weekend. Give these appointments a very high priority. Don't just cancel them the minute a work-related or other commitment appears on the horizon. To show how committed you are to each other, cancel something else on your schedule instead. If you do have to change plans, reschedule that appointment with your lover right away.

Sharing a hobby

Typically, men do certain activities — say, watching sports on TV and woodworking —and women take up others — making crafts and taking yoga classes, for example. Now ask yourself this question: What do we do together? You sleep together, have sex occasionally, eat some meals together, perhaps attend a religious service once a week, and maybe watch TV together.However, shouldn't there be something else in this mix?

Start by making a list of activities that might interest you and see if any of your interests match your partner's list of the same sort. Here are just a few examples to get you going:

  • Antiquing
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Going to the theater (or opera or concerts)
  • Hiking
  • Playing tennis
  • Raising pedigreed animals
  • Remodeling a room (or the entire house)
  • Skiing
  • Snorkeling
  • Traveling
  • Volunteering for a charity or at a hospital
  • Working for a political candidate

Ideally, when you find the right hobby and start pursuing it, you will no longer say, "Darn, I have to do this activity instead of watching this game orthat soap opera." Instead, you'll both be excited to do whatever pastime you have chosen together.

Putting some life back into your conversations

The best way to connect with a loved one is to share ideas. When the two of you first started dating, you probably had plenty of ideas to share and, therefore, plenty of things to discuss. However, as time has passed, chances are that your discussions are no longer as animated as they used to be. At times, you may even feel that you have nothing new to say to your partner.

If this is the case, make a conscious effort to find new things to talk about and new ideas about topics that interest both of you. Carefully look through newspapers, magazines, and Web sites for interesting articles that you can both read and then discuss. You should steer clear of subjects that you know you both strongly disagree about, because that's more likely to cause a debate instead of a discussion.

Need some ideas for how to start an interesting conversation? Try asking your partner some questions like these:

  • When we retire, should we live where we do now or move to warmer climes? At what age do we want to retire?
  • Which local politicians are doing a good job? Which ones have proved to be a disappointment?
  • Which cuisine is the best — French, Italian, Chinese, or American?
  • Is it better to live in the city, the suburbs, or the country?
  • Should sex education be taught in our classrooms?
  • Should there be a death penalty?

Making new friends

Here's some great news: You and your partner can get help as you search for new ways to stimulate your conversations. If you've been a couple for a decade or more, you may feel that you've exhausted certain areas of discussion. In addition to generating new ideas by reading articles, you can also generate them by bringing new friends into your life.

Now there's nothing wrong with your old friends, but sometimes old friends yield to old patterns. Say that you invite over a certain couple whom you've both known for years. They come to your house, and the same thing happens that has happened a hundred times before — the guys talk about one subject and the women about another. If it's hard enough for the two of you to rekindle your romance by making changes, it's going to be that much harder to get this other couple to join you.

Where do you find new friends? You could invite one of your co-workers and his or her date to go out one evening. Maybe there's a couple that you regularly greet at religious services; ask them over for dinner. Do you have neighbors who you know only in passing? Or maybe parents of some of your kids' classmates?

You may find some of these couples more boring than staring at your four walls would have been, but if you keep trying (and eventually narrow your search), you can begin adding to your list of friends so it becomes more varied.

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