Ah, that first, fine, careless rapture.

Romantic passion and excitement. The attraction, the infatuation, the desire to be with someone.

It’s beyond sexual desire, though it is that, too…

Where has it gone?

Fading Affection

If you feel the passion and excitement in your relationship has withered, you’re not alone. Research shows that the tremendous happiness boost newlyweds feel lasts about two years.

Only in fairy tales do couples live happily ever after.

But don’t beat yourself up. It’s not our fault. Brain science tells us that we adapt to positive experiences by taking them for granted. It’s called hedonic adaptation. When we get what we want, we change our expectations. We want something new.

Sexual passion and excitement are, unfortunately, especially prone to hedonic adaptation.

Couples find themselves making love less frequently. Passion is less intense or not there at all. And your relationship is no longer your first thought when you wake up and the last before you fall asleep. It’s no longer your main priority. It may even become a chore. Instead of passion, you feel indifference.

However necessary hedonic adaptation was to our evolutionary survival, when it applies to our relationships, it sucks.

What can you do when that special joy wears off?

Don’t despair. There are remedies. You may even find your relationship deepens when you take active steps to keep the passion alive.

Paying Attention

Beyond the way our brains are wired, relationships wither because we’re not paying attention.

Ask yourself these questions as you try to make your passion bloom again:

  • What attracted you to your partner in the first place? Have they grown as a person since then? Focusing on the qualities you admire in them will give you a fresh perspective.
  • How are you and your partner connected emotionally? Do you show your connection? Turning towards your partner, showing empathy, touching, holding hands, and giving back rubs, all help you keep your passion alive.
  • What are the ongoing issues in your relationship? Do you talk about things that bother you? Talking about the things that make you angry helps you let go of them.
  • Do you share new feelings and information with your partner? Intimacy comes from openness about painful feelings and experiences. Sharing what you need from each other helps develop your relationship. This sharing will allow you get to know each other all over again.
  • Is all your time together spent with other people? Kids, work, family, friends—all are important to your life and well-being. But time alone together must be a priority for you to stay connected and passionate about each other.
  • Do you and your partner have the same goals? Do you discuss your goals, your hopes, dreams, and wishes with each other? Life changes us. Marriage changes us. Your goals have probably changed since you first got together.

Variety, Passion, and Excitement

Another fact about our brains: we’re wired to crave variety. Newness triggers the neurotransmitter dopamine. That’s why novelty affects us like a drug.

When we reach that two-year mark, we shift from passionate love to a more stable, seasoned kind of love. Experts call it companionate love. This kind of love is more likely to stay strong through the thick and thin of life, but it doesn’t give us that dopamine kick.

Introducing variety and surprise into your relationship can overcome the predictability of companionate love and bring back some of that passion and excitement.

Couples who try new things together, both in the bedroom and in other parts of their lives, report more passion and excitement in their relationship. Sharing activities—especially new and exciting activities—is one way to make your passion bloom.

Recharge Your Sexual Connection

Passion is more than sexual desire. But sexual satisfaction strongly predicts how satisfied you are with your relationship.

Try these ideas to enhance your sexual connection:

  • Use affectionate touch. Double the length of your kisses. Hug longer. Hold hands more often. Give each other massages. Touch releases oxytocin, which makes you feel good.
  • Change your pattern. Who usually initiates sex? Switch that role.
  • Set the mood. Take plenty of time for foreplay. Let the tension build. Use sex as an opportunity to get to know each other better. Share your wishes and fantasies.
  • Experiment. Vary the kind of sex you share, from tender to highly erotic. Try new ways to give and receive pleasure. Break up the routine.
  • Make sex a priority.

Passion and Excitement Can Bloom Again

Sharing activities, particularly new and exciting activities, can spark excitement. More affectionate touching, sharing desires and fantasies, and adding variety to your sex life can bring back the passion.

And when you make sex a priority and take more time to be with each other without distractions, you can make the passion and excitement in your relationship bloom all over again.

If you would like to know more about how to make the most of your relationship, please click here: Couples Counseling.