Ask Wendy

How Do I Keep My Relationship Fresh?

Friday, September 30, 2016
Series continuation: What causes a relationship to go into a downward spiral? #2: Letting Go of the New

When you met your beloved, he was cute, cute, cute! Part of what was alluring was the mystery. Hallelujah and amen for a sexy and exciting man. Was he the person you had been praying to every imaginable God to meet one day? Would he feel the same way about you? Could you exhale with this one? What makes him tick?

The magical combination of chemistry, newness and uncertainty trigger a whole lot of hot, Eros lust. The start of a relationship is where sexual tension, steaminess and adventure dwell. And as you got to know him, and as your lives moved from two single people to two peas in a pod, you took pleasure in the discovery of this new person, right down to finishing his sentences. Knowing him afforded you confidence: You could bet that your chicken casserole would become his favorite dish, you could successfully purchase the socks he likes from a sea of brands, and you could declare with conviction the title of the film he’d appreciate for your Saturday night date – all good stuff.

Over time the uncertainty faded away as he showed up for you in all kinds of delicious ways. Like when he drove you 700 miles in a snowstorm to your grandmother’s funeral, the way he loves your dog even though he didn’t want one, and how what matters to you now matters to him. This is how a good life is meant to be, yes? Yes.

Except… here’s where we blow it:

  •   We stay the same person
  •   We think we know him

When we do these two things, curiosity ends, there’s nothing new to learn, and our minds close to the person we love.

In Esther Perel’s Ted Talk, The Secret to Desire in a Long Term Relationship, she illuminates the two things we need that are in direct conflict with each other: The safety and predictability of home and the excitement and discernment from newness. Tricky, right?

It’s a simple answer but not an easy solution.

Stay new to each other.

How you do this is up to you. Want some ideas? Try taking a class or work at learning a new thing that interests you  — with or without your partner. Spending time away is another good one, again, with or without your partner. If you take time apart, that not only creates newness, it has the added bonus of causing sexual tension.

As I write this column I’m in Rome. I have so many new things to tell my partner! I’ve seen things, learned things and even more importantly, am questioning worldly things in new ways. I’m a different person than I was when I left last Tuesday. But travel isn’t always available for all of us every time we feel like we could use a shot of some new. Weekend camping nearby with the girls would work, or even a meditation or reflection staycation can do the trick.

So girlie, what are you going to do to keep your relationship new? Start with being new yourself. Share an aspect of yourself he’s never seen. Or tell a story he’s heard before but highlight a new piece. And don’t forget to enjoy the stranger you live with, he can be an exciting, new person if you let him.

More ways to spiral down a good relationship in the next column, stay tuned.




Do you have a dating, sex or relationship question for Wendy? Send it to [email protected].