When was the last time you really made time for a romantic evening with your significant other? No, we’re not talking about just putting on eyeliner for a dinner date or swapping out your usual sweatpants for jeans on movie night. We mean real, intentional, thoughtful effort around meaningful one-on-one time with your special someone. When was the last time that happened? Can’t remember? We’re here to help.
August is National Romance Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to reprioritize a little low lighting and sweet talkin’ in your relationship. We know how crazy life can get, though, so we turned to some experts on love and life for tips. Keep reading for their eight specific suggestions on how you can create time and space for romance. Heart eyes emojis for days.
1. Designate device-free time. Our obsession with our phones has been known to put a damper on our relationships (you may have heard of “phubbing,” or “phone snubbing behavior,” which is when we allow ourselves to be distracted by a device while we’re spending time with a partner), so it makes perfect sense that putting down those devices is an important step in making romance happen. Counselor Jonathan Bennett advises that you and your partner set aside time to turn off both of your phones. With these distractions hidden away, you’ll more easily find opportunities for romance, even in the most mundane moments.
2. Choose a time to discuss life’s logistics. Life is full of important, nitty-gritty details — and those details only multiply over the course of a relationship as you add a home, kids, pets, and finances to the mix. While you and your partner will definitely need to communicate about these logistics regularly, doing it during date night is a quick way to put a stop to the romance. Marriage podcasters Megan and Jon La Follett have a “weekly marital staff meeting,” during which they clear up any planning issues and tensions. “These conflict creators used to pop up every time we finally had a few minutes to spend together, killing any chance at romance,” they say. Problem solved!
3. Connect in spite of distance and busy schedules. We understand how life can be — you’re traveling every week for work and your partner always seems to have work events on the nights you’re actually home, or you’ve just been ships passing in the night lately because of your entirely opposite (yet equally cluttered) social calendars. Is there ever an end to the chaos? Not really, which is why it’s important to learn to work around the limitations of time and space. You can still connect with your S.O. and create that spark when you’re separated! For couples dealing with a difficult travel schedule, matchmaker and relationship expert Bonnie Winston suggests choosing a book and taking turns reading chapters to each other over the phone each night, which will build a nightly routine around intimacy, instead of just watching TV alone. Similarly, licensed marriage and family therapist Rajani Venkatraman encourages busy couples to keep romance going with small gestures. “Romance and passion do not rely on constant physical presence,” she says. “In fact, they thrive quite well on the gaps between connection, as long as we keep the connection well fed. Leave your lover a note tucked in the cereal box, a heart drawn on the misty bathroom mirror, a sexy goodbye kiss as a promise of more.”
4. Celebrate anniversaries. You may have thought that celebrating monthly anniversaries was the stuff of middle school courtship, but think again! Creating an occasion around a special date for you and your significant other each month — whether it’s tied to your wedding anniversary or the date of your first kiss — will help keep romance at the forefront of your relationship. As a nod to their wedding date, author and relationship coach Brian Taylor celebrates with his wife on the 22nd of each month. Even when their children were small and money was tight, he says, they made time for each other on this special day with simple activities like walks and board games.
5. Embrace gratitude. “Each partner should find three things they are grateful for each day about his or her partner and share it with them,” says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson. “Whether it’s gratitude for working hard, cleaning up the house, or taking care of the children, complimenting your loved one leads to increased positivity in the relationship.” And that positivity sets the stage for romance to come more naturally.
6. Sync your schedules. Everyone knows that if you don’t make it a priority to write something on the calendar, that thing rarely happens. Sad as it may seem, romance is no different. Relationship and etiquette expert April Masini suggests that couples work on their calendars together, creating a joint schedule that allocates time for “business” (car maintenance, house hunting, etc.), family events, and romantic time. “Date night needs to be scheduled in when you’re both busy,” Masini says. “In fact, even sex needs to be included — and you shouldn’t see that as a problem in the relationship or a deficit in your romantic life. It’s just practical for many busy couples.” Consider it penciled in!
7. Go to bed at the same time every night. If you’re an early bird and your S.O. prefers to stay up late into the night, it’s time to find a healthy compromise on bedtimes. When you’re constantly on different sleep schedules, you miss out on opportunities to connect one-on-one. “It’s hard to be physically intimate if you aren’t in the same place,” says couples coach and marriage expert Lesli Doares. “Even if you don’t have sex, you can touch and cuddle.” Licensed therapist and relationship podcaster Dr. Kia encourages couples to use that pre-snooze time to reconnect every. Single. Night. Make a habit of meaningful pillow talk for at least 20 minutes each evening.
8. Invite your partner into your routine. “Sometimes couples have a set routine that is fairly inflexible,” says marriage and family therapist Shadeen Francis. “Rather than disrupting a system that largely works, consider doing more things together.” You won’t really know how sexy or romantic grocery shopping, cooking, or laundry can be until you ask your S.O. to do it with you… right?
How else do you make time for romance in your relationship? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)