Relationships

How to Keep the Spark Alive

How to Keep the Spark Alive

In long-term relationships, everyone can fall into ruts now and again. So, what little things do you do to keep the spark alive? Sex therapist Esther Perel shares her #1 tip…

“Be playful,” says Perel, who has a gripping new podcast about couples therapy. “What makes a difference is doing something else, and that doesn’t necessarily mean physically.”

So! The next time you go to a party (or even a bar) together, she suggests pretending you’re strangers. “Make a playful pact not to talk or touch at first, only to make eye contact,” says Perel. Maybe send a flirty text during the course of the evening. “It’s all about talking about sex without talking about sex,” she says.

After all, flirting comes from the french word, fleuret, which is a kind of sword used in fencing. “You get points only when using the tip of the sword,” she says, “So, to flirt is to play, to tease, without going in for the kill.”

This party game works, Perel explains, because it creates mystery. “When I look at you from a distance, you’re somewhat unknown. I see you through the gaze of others — this separate person from me, not just my significant other. I watch you radiate.”

Fun, right? I’d love to try it this summer. There’s something so electric about looking across a crowded room and catching a person’s eye :)

Thoughts? Would you do this? Does it sound fun, or would you feel self-conscious? It reminds me of this movie scene:)

P.S. Scheduling sex, and the secret to a great date.

(Top image of The Meeting, 1872, by Auguste Serrure.)

  1. Hilary Tschoepe says...

    Is it just me, or does the idea of pretending your mate is- a different person, terribly troubling??! If this is the person, you’re committed to, then goodness you shouldn’t have to dig too deep to find something that ignites passion in you. Maybe how they ran out to the car in the pouring rain to get your cell phone for you. Or how they can make your baby smile. Possibly, that they sit and listen to the same story your grandmother has told them gazillion times as if it was the first time. I think this is bad advice.

    • lomagirl says...

      I don’t pretend my husband is a different person, but it is definitely fun to flirt with him. I think as long marrieds we may just jump straight to the sex- but spending the day flirting is lots of fun and revs things up.

  2. Golden Moon says...

    I think on a very real note to keep the spark alive while raising young children is to deeply protect your couple time together. Date night need not be expensive. We go for long walks in the woods, sip coffee and read at a cafe, watch a show together, or just get it on. Whatever it is it is cherished because time is so limited while parenting young children. Even when the sexual intimacy desires fluxuate due to fatigue we still go for it. After being married for over 20 years we keep choosing each other every single day. It isn’t always easy (or pretty) but knowing we choose each other daily keeps the big spark alive. Btw, I love the Frances Ha quote shared here and am digging on the audio talks!

  3. Whitney says...

    My husband and I have a two year old who is now a great sleeper at night, but I remember feeling really discouraged when he was tiny and none of us were sleeping. I really wondered if this was the new normal – exhausted, disinterested, and frustrated. The beautiful lesson for me has been that some of the best days of our marriage, intimacy and otherwise, have happened since our son has grown older. Remembering that the best days of your marriage (and intimacy) might be beyond a plateau is really reassuring. That has definitely kept us going because: just because I don’t feel the spark today doesn’t mean that the best days of our marriage are behind us; more than likely, they haven’t happened yet!

    • Samantha says...

      Your comment gives me a lot of hope! We have a 9 month old, and I’m really struggling to protect our couple-ness. I don’t want to end up as roommates who take care of our kids!

    • Whitney says...

      Samantha, I was exactly where you are now! Wanting to protect your couple-ness is a good way to put it. I remember reminiscing about all the trips and fun things we’d done together and honestly, as much as I adored our son, I felt like this new little human had wrecked it. I was so thankful when he slowly became a comfortable part of our family instead of feeling like an imposter. Hang in there!

    • Samantha says...

      Thanks!

  4. Maggie says...

    We alternate planning date nights for each other – sometimes it is something pricier or more involved (tickets to a show or event), sometimes it is checking out a happy hour someplace near our house and going for a bike ride to a park we haven’t been to before. But whatever it is, the fact that the other person planned it for you and that the night is unfolding as a surprise makes things feel interesting, new and special. We’ve had a lot of fun with it over the last few years!

    • Stephanie says...

      What a great idea!

  5. Irina says...

    What seems to work for my husband and me (married for 16 years, I was 19 and he was 24 when we got married) is something that will take us back to our teenage years, before we met each other.

    Often this is music that we loved as teens, either songs that we both happened to love at that age or songs that were special to just one of us. They bring back that time when each of us was yearning for love and connection and wondering if we would ever meet that special someone and what they were going to be like.

    Music that we both loved, separately, is particularly special because it makes us realize that, despite our age difference and different upbringings and personalities, we do have something really fundamental that unites us. However, other songs, like some of my husband’s favorites from a mix tape he made for me when we were long-distance “dating,” will also bring back the spark for us, especially for him.

  6. Jennifer says...

    This might sound really obvious but the biggest help for me has been committing myself to weekly sex. As a full time working mother (two kids, 3 & 5), married for 16 years more often than not I don’t “feel like” having sex. Now I don’t wait for the time that I “feel like it”, I plan to have sex at least once a week and hold myself to it. Once we’re in the mix I’m always so glad to be there but making the commitment has helped me to make sex a priority.

  7. Madison says...

    I loved reading this because it makes flirting sound so easy and effortless! I am terrible at flirting and get so awkward around attractive men, so next time I’m out on the town I will remember this article and *hopefully* put it to good use

  8. Love this!

  9. Jill says...

    I love this tip and all the comments (esp Celeste!). But most of all, I love love love the picture you used to illustrate this article! It captures such a world of feeling in those two pairs of sly downcast eyes.

  10. For some reason, I remember vividly that article you wrote a couple years ago about arriving separately at a restaurant. My husband and I both work from home, and this tip is definitely a good one for us. Seeing your significant other arrive from the opposite direction when meeting for drinks is a nice little reminder of why you love them, a different perspective is really welcome sometimes.

    As for the etymology of “to flirt”, although it sounds very poetic (so did the idea of “to flirt” coming from the French “fleureter” or “conter fleurette”), I do not believe it is true. See the Oxford and Le Grand Robert dictionaries for more details.

  11. Blandine says...

    Great article, your site has been growing more and more diverse lately and I love it. Just one quick comment about the reference to the French language, I don’t think that is the case. “After all, flirting comes from the french word, fleuret, which is a kind of sword used in fencing. “ Flirt comes from the expression “conter fleurette” and in the 16th century meant “saying nice things that aren’t true”. Fleurette means little flower. No reference to fencing. For those who are interested, a link to the French academy. http://www.academie-francaise.fr/conter-fleurette

    I really love all the intelligent, funny comments. This one from Sadie above was absolutely spot on for me “Also I don’t want that spark to be about me keeping it alive bc men don’t read this stuff and it all falls on us looking for ways.” Agree totally, life at work, at home and in parenting is already so unbalanced and women are expected to put in SOOOO much work, that it feels like an added pressure sometimes (which is all but romantic!)

  12. Raena H. says...

    My husband was returning from being out all day and when he came home I was absent but his iPad had a pre-recorded video message. It said to hop in an uber and meet me at one of our fav pre married hangouts! I sat nervously at the bar waiting for his arrival. It was so fun and we had such a good laugh mixing it up! Sometimes you just need a lil throwback! Xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is the cutest, raena!!!

  13. Jess says...

    Naked Week. As in the grandparents take the kids for as long as they possibly will, and my husband and I do everything around the house we normally would naked. Also, I am not ashamed to buy the trashiest, cheapest lingerie on Amazon. He loves it, I love it, and we have a lot of sex! (Married 16 years, 5 kids.)

    • melissa says...

      #lifegoals That’s all I have to say about this, Jess.

    • Savannah says...

      Amazing.

    • Karen says...

      **taking notes**

    • golden earth girl says...

      sorry but this just reminds me of good naked/bad naked from Seinfeld

  14. Rachel Simmons says...

    Sounds fun! I also recently heard a married couple of 11yrs goes out on “first dates” regularly. The husband even comes to the door (getting home from work) and knocks on the front door, “picking up his date”. They said at the end of every “first dates” they have their “first good night kiss”! Mind blowing. Doesn’t this sound divine?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so cute!

  15. elisabeth says...

    I loved your tip about meeting up for a date, rather than getting ready and leaving the house together. Every now and then I’ll tell my husband I’m taking him out, give him a time and location, and I’ll *gasp* leave my phone at home! It’s a little nerve-wracking because but mostly it’s exciting. Watching him walk up to the bar/restaurant always takes my breath away and I know he feels special when I’m not checking my phone every 5 minutes!

    There was also something you wrote about the vulnerability and sensuality of receiving a belly rub(?!) So random but we tried it and suprisingly it ended really well. ;)

  16. christina says...

    as a new mom of 1 and soon to be mom of 2…. i think the spark is always there…you just have to look hard for it and maybe accept that its going to look a little different depending on what stage of life your in. i see it now more when my husband plays with our 18 month old daughter- the way he looks at her with that “spark” warms my heart in ways i just cannot describe! i don’t think the spark has to be sexual to feel a very deep connection with someone.

  17. My husband and I have been married for 12 years and have a 10 year-old daughter. When we were young and before we met, he used to wrestle competitively in high school and I was a red belt in Tae Kwon Do in medical school. We started training together at a mixed martial art school about 5 years ago. It was refreshing to train vigorously and learn a new way of fighting… for both of us! When we kneel down at the end of the class to meditate, I feel grateful to have a partner in life that share this passion with me. When we are in class, it feels a bit naughty to know that I get to go home with my handsome, tough, classmate :) Unfortunately I injured my thumb during class (teaching a lower belt how to fall and she landed, all 150lb of her, on my thumb, ouch!) and had stopped my martial art training. I am hoping to either return to training one day, or pick up a new passion with my husband, because learning something new together is what keeps our spark alive!

  18. “You get points only when using the tip of the sword” yet another way to keep the spark alive ;)

    Three things have saved my spark with my husband of ten years (together for 15). One is knowing it won’t always be there. I have zero interest in sex when I’m breastfeeding, for example. The second is to steal away during the day for sex. We are so tired at night, and we both work full time so our kids are in daycare so we’ll go home for lunch or even take a vacation day and send our kids to school. The third is seeing each other outside of our usual interactions. My husband is a lawyer and we went to lunch with friends the other day so he could give them some legal council. I see him every day bathing kids, and watering our grass. It was pretty hot to watch him work.

    One thing that has been a struggle for me is that I was a really young, super fit dancer when we got married, and now I’m a mid-30s mom and that is hard on my confidence (even though my husband doesn’t seem to have noticed). Working out and taking care of ourselves has been a huge help for us. It sounds shallow, but the sex is hotter when we feel hotter, and it’s better when we’re physically fit. It’s a big deal to us.

    • Lo says...

      Oh my gosh, I just snorted coffee everywhere at the first line! Hilarious!

  19. Melissa says...

    This is a bit off topic, but I just wanted to express how much I appreciate your posts, Jo. I’m 27 years old and going on my very first with-a-stranger date tonight. I’m absolutely terrified, but reading through your dating (specifically first date) posts and reading all of the comments has genuinely helped calm me down. I just keep reminded myself of two things: one, I’m not there to make him like me, I’m there to see if I like him. Two, he’s a reader. I love readers; they’re nice people. If all else fails, I’ll talk about books.

    • Daniela says...

      I’d be curious to hear how your date goes! I’ve been in a relationship since I was 17 (I’ll be 27 this year), and I’ve always been curious about dating since I’ve never really done it. Have fun!

    • Ahhhhh, I love your dating perspective SO MUCH. Such a great way to look at it. Also, you’re right: book people are the best people. Have fun on your date!

    • Laura says...

      I would love to hear a follow up to this! I consider myself bad with dating and have recently tried more online dating (hate that it still seems kinda taboo). And so cool that it’s with a book person!

    • aga says...

      Good luck! :)

    • LG says...

      Sending good vibes!!

    • Savannah says...

      good vibes to you – have fun!

    • Sara says...

      Yes…please tell us how it goes! Joanna…invite her to do a guest post. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hope you had a fun time, melissa! :) (or if not, there are many more great book people out there:)

    • I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about my “ideal clients/patients.” Thank you, Melissa, for helping me focus: at the end of the day, I just want to work with people who read and are (genuinely) kind.

    • Melissa says...

      Oh wow, thank you ALL so much for your incredibly sweet words. I only told one of my friends pre-date (too nervous to talk about it), so your encouragement made me feel like I had a whole team behind me!

      For those of you afraid of dating: the fear of the unknown is SO much worse than the actuality! Take it from me – this was, without a doubt, my greatest life’s fear so far. Granted, I was lucky to get a friendly guy on the first shot, but… the date itself was a breeze compared to the lead up!

      I had a really nice time and he was super easy to be around (I’d been forthright with him about my inexperience and nerves), but unfortunately, I didn’t feel a spark. In fact, I distinctly felt a not-spark. We went for a walk after coffee and already I was pretty sure. Then he paused and kissed me, and it felt easy, but it didn’t feel wonderful or exciting or moving or even comforting. And then I knew.

      We continued walking for a bit and then I guided things back in the direction of his car and, tentatively broached the subject. “No, I get it,” he replied, gently, “I kind of figured when we started walking full circle.”

      It didn’t work out, but I walked home with a huge smile on my face. I marvelled at my own bravery. So thank you all again, and Joanna, I know you’re right – my book person is still out there. And now I’ve got the courage to find him.

  20. I was just saying to my husband last night that I love hanging out with him with our friends and in different social settings. Last night we went to a free outdoor concert in our mountain town and met up with our good friend who has a baby the same age as our son. Seeing my husband interact with our friend’s baby and try to make her and our son laugh together made me fall in love all over again.

    • Kristy says...

      Different social settings, totally! Make each other work for the touch :)

      And my bf always wants to kiss me (and then some) when he finds out I did something nice for someone…of course that’s not why I do nice things but it’s a total swoon-y bonus.

  21. There’s a Modern Family episode with Claire and Phil doing this in a hotel bar. Of course there is!!

    • Loesie says...

      Yay for Clive and Juliana!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg hahahaha that is awesome! did it work? :)

    • Kelsey says...

      That was my first thought too!

    • Amy says...

      There’s multiple episodes where they are “Clive and Juliana” – sometimes it’s hilarious and other times it’s just awkward haha.

  22. Ginny says...

    I love this. As adults with busy working lives, living in busy cities, and adding parenting to this mix is just plain o’l crazy. ha ha We forget how to “play”. There is this really good book I highly recommend that I read several years ago called Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Dr. Stuart Brown. It applies to kids, adults and any human being. It really was a game changer for me as a mom and also being married and my different friendships. We are hosting a Canada Day BBQ this week-end. I am going to be making fun eye contact at my husband across the yard and have some fun with this!! ha ha

  23. This sounds fun! I know this is a bit different, but it reminded me of that scene in the penultimate episode of the most recent season of Master of None, where Dev and Francesca pretend like they’re meeting for the first time at a bar, and the lighting and mood of his apartment just totally transports you. Sorry, not the same thing, but I just finished that season and I’ve got Master of None on the brain! Sooooooo good.

    • Lula says...

      I was *just* about to comment about that MON episode. Obsessed too!

  24. Christy says...

    I feel like keeping the spark alive has so much more to with mutual respect and remembering why we feel in love now at my stage of marriage (4 years married, 9 years together) than flirting at a party. Our spark is about deeply connecting to each other, giving each other space and growing as individuals and as a couple. I like the idea of this but my husband would laugh his arse off if I texted him and tried to flirt. Hah. Instead of the flirt vibe we’d have a good giggle which always brings us closer.

    • Jen says...

      I totally agree with this! I’m currently stealing a few hours away while my husband takes care of the kids on his day off, which makes me grateful for the way we’ve got each other’s back. And being grateful / not taking him for granted is what keeps the sparks going for me. It’s not easy to do that when you’ve got two young children and very different interests.

    • Megan says...

      Yes, completely agree with this!

  25. Sasha says...

    Unplugging always helps us just notice how much we like the other person. It’s one of the reasons I love back packing, hiking and camping soooo much. No phone, for days and days. We connect so much without the distraction.

  26. Amy says...

    This may sound like a downer, but I think there’s also value in accepting that the “spark” comes and goes. My husband and I have been together almost 15 years, married almost 10. We have four kids, now, the youngest of which is only 6mos old. My husband works and travels a ton, and I’m trying to build a business as an artisan while overseeing minor remodeling at the house. We love each other desperately, and are the best and truest of friends…but we’re TIRED. There isn’t much energy or time for us as a couple, but neither of us are distressed by it – we know it’s just the situation not a lack of interest or desire. And knowing that keeps us from feeling rejected or unloved; we’re secure in Us.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Love this, Amy.

    • Carrie says...

      Yes, that’s perfect. That is the exact attitude and understanding everyone needs to have going into marriage. Life is a lot of work, you just have to be ready for it all. Sexless phases, or rough phases where you fight more often…those things do not equal a bad marriage. I think more and more these days we are learning to give ourselves grace and as an extension- grace to those close to us.

    • Sasha says...

      Yes, absolutely. Understanding that there are ebbs in passion (my gosh, especially related to pregnancy, babies and parental exhaustion) could save a lot of marriages. 22 years married next week, and there are seasons to a marriage, stormy weather and sunshine days. If you are lucky, the storms pass (& the boredom and annoyances) & the love stays.

    • Trisha says...

      Totally Amy, my guy calls it “seasons”. We have been together 10 years and we have a 20 month old and I work full time, he goes to school and stays home with her, and plays music on the side. We are just tired sometimes. In the beginning I apologized a lot. He always just said, this is the season we are in right now. We love each other and are best friends too. There are times where it is hard, but I am comforted in knowing that it won’t always feel this way, and we’ll have another season of something else at another time.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      seasons is a beautiful way to put it, trisha.

    • cgw says...

      THIS ^. So VERY this^!

    • Jen says...

      Yes to all of the above! Married almost 20 years. CHOOSE to weather the seasons and the ebbs and flows! Be Loyal and best friends and the spark will naturally be there. There is sexiness in being loyal to one person.

    • Sarah says...

      This thread reminds me of the last lines in Emma Straub’s, “The Vacationers”;
      “There was nothing in life harder or more important than agreeing every morning to stay the course, to go back to your forgotten self of so many years ago, and to make the same decision. Marriages, like ships, needed steering, and steady hands at the wheel.”
      Nailed it.

  27. Erica says...

    I also love meeting my husband out! It’s double the fun if I wear a new dress or outfit he’s never seen before – a rarity after living together for five years – for those extra spice points :)

  28. H says...

    I think a lot of “keeping the spark alive” advice tends to be focused on activities that you can do together, but I think people are most attractive when they’re in their own element. I think a lot of the spark is lost when a relationship is too focused on activities done as a couple. Each partner should be able to take time out for their own personal hobbies – that way when you’re together you feel more relaxed and fulfilled. And for those with kids – get a babysitter and then go your separate ways instead of date night! For a homebody like myself, I think I’d just want a block of time alone in my own home!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s great advice, H! (and omg to be alone in your own home! hahaha that’s like my biggest dream too:)

    • Summer says...

      I totally agree with this. I also love being in my home, all alone. It is the absolute best!

  29. brianna says...

    I would feel too awkward to do it, I think. I’m so bad at relationships of any kind. It reminds me of that story arc on Gilmore Girls, though, when Rory is looking through all the books to figure out what to sext Logan when he’s in London after Paris tells her that’s what she and Doyle do to keep the spark alive. I feel like that’s how I would be – I’d need a book or website to tell me what to do.

  30. Jessica says...

    I love going out to parties with my husband. We spend so much time alone together, speaking our own language, often discussing the same things over and over, that it is just so lovely to watch him interact with other people. He has such an incredible charm and authentic vibe about him that I’m just delighted to watch him converse with other people, being a slightly-different version of the same person I see every day. After ten years together, I’m still just in awe of how wonderful he is when he’s with friends or meeting new people.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, jessica! what a love note. you should email this to him :)

  31. Christine says...

    Someone recommended The Mediterranean Love Plan to me. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s supposed to help with keeping passion in marriage.

  32. Beth says...

    My husband and I typically do a Friday “date night” but it would sometimes fizzle out when we’d both return home tired then get distracted by household duties or our own need to tune out. Most cases, we’d settle for Netflix on the couch. However, recently, I had to work later on a Friday at my downtown job. That time, my husband came to pick me up and we started our date from there. We didn’t have anything planned, but ended up grabbing baked treats, cuddling kittens at a shelter, then discovering a great new sushi place. It was the best date we’ve been on in a good while! Going straight from work kept the momentum and it was thrilling to get “whisked away” for a night out.

  33. We’re Americans living this year in the South of France, and I love the way the french view romance and love. It’s so sensual and fun, rather than overthinking it and stress. Let’s all be french :) fun idea to try!

    • How lucky you are! :)

      Reminds me of the French approach to parenting, a la “Bringing up Bebe”

    • Mae says...

      Ooh! Details please :) This would make a great post….what happily married couples do/ how they spend time together, etc around the world!

  34. gil says...

    husband and I did this on our honeymoon last year. (not that were feeling in a rut *at all* mind you, just feeling playful!) we pretended to be having a first conversation at a bar but in reality were two days married, having g&t’s in a hot tub. not a bad time ;)

  35. Celeste says...

    This is such a cute idea. Keeping the spark alive is definitely a challenge, and we’ve only been together 8 years!

    Something we’re privileged enough to do is to travel new places together. There’s something about going somewhere together for the first time that makes my heart grateful for him. Plus, sex in a new bed is always exciting. haha

    Another thing we do that’s a lot more accessible is some light role playing, which is so, so dorky, I know. My husband might say something like, “I’m an underwear model and I can’t believe I get to work with the esteemed photographer Celeste.” The dumber the scenario the better, honestly. It usually devolves into fits of laughter at the reveal, “Oh my gosh, I never knew she was MY WIFE.” haha it’s truly terrible theater but telling those stories is a funny way of getting inside each other’s brains.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg that is so cute, celeste!

    • Lana says...

      Hahahah!!! This reminds me of a story my brother and sister in law told us. They were role playing and he was a “lamp delivery man” lol! My SIL said he knocked on the door and when she opened it he was like, “He lady, I got this lamp. Where do you want me to put it?” Of course he was trying to be sexy but they both cracked up. Now, whenever we’ve helped eachother move we always make a point to pick up a lamp and quote him. Poor guy!

    • L says...

      My husband and I do this too! It is always a silly scenario that we are terrible at (phony accents and not much believability) and we always end up laughing. It does help us remember how much fun we have together!

    • annemarie says...

      i am laughing so hard at these adorable role-playing ideas. i think this sounds so fun and funny. the perfect way to ‘be playful’!

    • Sarah says...

      “Oh my gosh, I never knew that she was MY WIFE” hahahahah! Cracking up over here, i love this!

    • Jill says...

      haha I love this! So cute.

    • Celeste says...

      haha Lana, that story kills me! I feel like I found my people a little. ;)

  36. Carrie says...

    Not going to lie, I’d feel pretty weird doing that. I like the idea of it, but I’d never be able to carry it off. Plus I love how my husband and I gel extra hard when we go to social events. Our energy just keeps us so drawn together, it feels great!

  37. I’ve found that trying something new with my boyfriend-a class, a type of cuisine, a new city, has helped keep the spark alive. We started taking a bootcamp class and seeing him in that environment, pushing himself, I found myself even more attracted to him.

    It’s easy to get into a routine but little things help shake it up. Even drinking the morning coffee on the front steps can help.

  38. Katie says...

    This podcast is absolutely amazing, I’m 5 episodes in and can’t get enough. As a married woman with two young children I can totally empathise with the couples, as a therapist I’m just in awe of Esther’s skills.

    • Wait how are you listening if it’s not launching till the fall?

    • Katie says...

      I’m listening through audible, it says “buy”, but the is no charge. It must be for a limited time or something.

  39. cooper says...

    Such a great idea! My husband and I started watching that new “First Dates” show and then, for the first time, the Bachelorette, and we’ve found that watching shows or movies about dating has led to some amazing conversations and reminiscing. It’s a simple thing, but I think since we both found parts of dating a little painful and awkward, watching other people date reminds us of how lucky we are to have found each other!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is such a sweet sentiment, cooper!

    • Michelle says...

      My husband and I also watch the Bachelor/ette together and it’s so much fun! I don’t think he ever expected to get into it but it’s our little ritual and we always end up having interesting conversations about love and dating.

  40. Sadie says...

    Real talk: As a parent of 2, my social group never throws parties and I can’t imagine wanting to throw one myself in a small city apartment. For example we went to dinner at a friend’s and our kids were playing together- my husband and I did exchange a look when the host snapped at her husband- because that’s real life. How do you get through this stage and keep it sparkling?

    • Maiz Connolly says...

      Kind of what I thought, which was, “Might be fun… if we EVER went to parties!” We hardly even get the chance (or have the energy) to go on dates. We recently tried that tip on a dinner date where we agreed to not talk about work or the kids for the first hour, and it was really fun and turned out to be one of our best dates in years!

    • Emma Bee says...

      Yep, if we’re at a party with our toddler, the only reason I’m eyeing my husband across the room is to indicate (with imaginary lightening daggers coming out of my eyes) that it’s his turn to take her to the potty.

      This advice would be fun but probably somewhere sans kids.

    • Sadie says...

      My husband is my best friend, but marriage with kids is really hard because really we’re parents first, family second and maybe individuals third- our couple is definitely last on the list. Also I don’t want that spark to be about me keeping it alive bc men don’t read this stuff and it all falls on us looking for ways when his sparkle would be for us to get it on once a week. We do go on dates, or rare weekends away but the reality is, our lives are stressful and the definition of marriage and being in love 7 years in has changed. Maybe I should care more that there’s not much sparkle these days- I don’t see my marriage as bad without it and I hope after my kids get a little older and things get a little easier that sparkle comes around from time to time- but I think the reality for us is our priorities are surviving, Netflix, sleep, and making sure to try and be present while our kids are so young and we’re stretched so thin.

    • Alice says...

      I hear you, I have two children under 4 and it’s really tough because, you’re right, our relationship is at the bottom of the list. We talk about it and try to make an effort but it gets shoved under the rug by life admin and exhaustion. My eldest sister’s marriage has recently reignited, their kids are 6 and 10, and it’s so inspiring to see. It makes me push for the spark, no matter how rare or exhausting. Their interaction is way more playful, fun, supportive, and healthy. She told me it’s only been in the last year they’ve felt able to do this, but there is hope! Don’t give up on the spark!

  41. Amanda says...

    Reminds me of this quote from Frances Ha: “It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it…but it’s a party…and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining…and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes…but – but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual…but because…that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.”

    • Lily says...

      I love this!

    • I get chills reading this.

    • I love that movie and specifically that quote so much!
      My other favorite quote from the movie is: “I’m so embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet.”. I still feel this way and I just turned 40.

    • Scarlett says...

      I got choked up reading this! I love it.

    • Chelsea says...

      So true! That’s beautiful!

    • Lindsay says...

      That is a beautiful, moving quote. There is no better feeling in life than being with your person and having that secret connection. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Marni says...

    I love this idea!! My husband and I sometimes pretned when we are at home that we just met or we reenact our first kiss (yes….we’re dorks!) I will suggest this game to him tonight ;-)

  43. Love the painting, it’s so suggestive! Not sure I could keep up the game at a bar, but it might be a fun idea :)

  44. Colleen says...

    You and A already did this on date night, I remember that post. I think we’re good just spontaneously hitting on each other at home – date night’s expensive!