• Create a fresh new start together, both mentally and practically. Make new and exciting long-term plans for the future and begin a journey towards it rather than thinking that the current state is your destination.
Do you have separate hobbies that you’ve never tried together before? You should try out each others’ pastimes (or even something you’ve both never tried, as long as you do it together), for example join your wife’s next yoga class or your husband’s next fishing trip – you never know just how much you’ll end up liking it and you’ll spend more time doing things together. Activities involving other couples are especially great because there are more things you’ll be able to relate with.
And while this may seem contradictory, making sure you each also have sufficient “alone time” is also important.
• It is critical to understand and accept that every relationship has flaws, including your own. Of course, any major problems should be worked on (it’s a horrible idea to ignore such things and hope they will go away or resolve themselves over time), but all is not lost just because of a few small ones.
On a related note, don’t think of seeing a therapist as a bad thing – it actually confirms that you care about the relationship and are willing to work on it.
• For every disagreement or negative interaction, consciously try to make up for it with several more positive interactions – they add up over time and will be worth it in the long run.
• Make a list of things that you are thankful for about your spouse, e.g. always willing to listen to your problems even when tired. Each time you notice something on the list, make it known that you appreciate it and that you don’t take it for granted. If you literally cannot find a single thing you’re thankful for, then something is not right and you need to talk about it.
• Just because things aren’t exactly the same or as passionate as from the beginning of the relationship doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing – it’s only natural that it progresses from dizzy-headed excitement to a more mellow sense of companionship, and it’s possible to misconstrue this as fading of love when it is anything but – think of the years’ worth of precious memories and time spent together that can never be replaced with anything else.
On the other hand, maybe some things have changed that shouldn’t have, for example no longer kissing each other goodbye when leaving for work or beginning to argue about petty things. Thinking about and changing little things like that can make a huge difference.
Also having been together for a long time doesn’t mean a zero-effort relationship – in fact, that kind of thinking is a fatal mistake that leads to an insidious breakdown. Most important is transparency and constant communication, whether it’s mundane chitchat or serious talk about deep issues.
• The cause of your “itch” could be external – maybe it’s other things in your life that you’re tired of that you’re projecting onto or blaming on your marriage – for example, your job – or perhaps even undiscovered health issues.