Excitement and passion can only last so long in a marriage or long-term relationship. Or can it?
According to a recent New York Times article, newlywed couples enjoy a huge boost in happiness that lasts only two years, on average. The reason? It’s easy to slip into a routine. The days of passionate love fade away as other new, exciting circumstances arise and eclipse the relationship: finding a new job, buying a new car, having a child. In fact, many younger couples mistake the shift from passionate to companionate love as unhappiness or incompatibility.
As human beings we’re susceptible to hedonic adaptation- essentially, we adapt quickly to most life changes, including marriage. For a time, a positive experience is thrilling, but we expect more to pop up, and soon. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As you spend more time with your significant other, your relationship and connection grows deeper as you and your partner nourish each other through continued communication. But getting to know one another deeply takes the element of surprise, which often causes passion and excitement, out of the relationship.
Maintaining a balance between routine and excitement can be challenging, but putting in the tough work has huge benefits. People in happy romantic partnerships enjoy a tend to be healthier and live longer. People in love are less likely to engage in unhealthy, potentially dangerous activities such as smoking and heavy drinking. Happily married couples are even less likely to develop diseases and are more than three times more likely to survive coronary bypass surgery. Long-term, committed romantic relationships are an essential form of primary food that nourishes us as much if not more than the food we eat.
As we adapt to our relationship and it goes from being “new” to “routine,” sharing surprises with your partner is an opportunity to renew the pleasure of passionate love. The power of surprise shouldn’t be underestimated- novelty snaps us out of routine and causes a strong emotional reaction that makes us appreciate and remember the experience or circumstance. So invest time in your relationships, throw in a few surprises, and watch the new sparks fly.
How do you surprise your partner to keep the sparks flying?