(Photo by Yours truly)
After coasting on a honeymoon high, we sometimes find ourselves at the Plateau of Wedded Blah for years on end. Are you desperate for a change of scenery? Here are 10 tips to bring back your marriage to blissful territory.
1. Try Something New When you first got married, everything was shimmering, shining, splendid, no? It was such a rush to discover new things, places, and um, sexual positions, together. But even the most extraordinary things can lose their luster over time.
Make a pact to try new things together. Why not write a couple to-do list every new year? Plan adventures, take up new sports or hobbies, travel, or simply experiment with new dishes to spice things up.
2. Cultivate Your Couple Habits While it's good to break from routine, do continue all those tender gestures you initiated as a newlywed to bring back that lovin' feeling. The sweet habits and traditions you sow early on in your marriage can help shape your relationship, and always give you something warm and familiar to look forward to (say, celebrating monthsaries or a special good night ritual).
Graphic designer couple Carlo and Niña Herman, married for four years and parents to 15-month-old baby Finn share: "Cultivate a habit of thinking fondly of each other so that your times together are much sweeter." Carlo adds, "Make it a point to start and end the day together."
3. Be Silly Bridal designer, businesswoman and mother of three Michi Calica Sotto still blushes like a newlywed when speaking about her hubby Jose. "When Jose is working [at home], he always has 80s tracks blaring from his desktop computer. When his fave tracks play—like Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" or Erasure's "A Little Respect"—Jose starts dancing for me. Believe me, he never dances in public. I end up cracking up! My dad used to warn me against boys who make me laugh. Dad used to say: 'Boys who make you laugh end up making girls weak in the knees!'"
4. Shed Your Inhibitions The notion of having inhibitions can sound absurd after years of being married, but the truth is, many Filipinas are still demure at heart. Many are too shy to tell their partners what turns them on, especially if it's way past the honeymoon stage. When your sex life is a snoozefest, you may feel awkward about suddenly starting a striptease.
Tip: If you seriously want to turn up the heat, put your inhibitions and pride aside. Be open and vulnerable (read: tell him how you like it) and often you'll find that he'll be receptive to you. Likewise, find out what your hubby's fantasies are (role playing? Victoria's Secret thongs? Ceiling mirrors?) and indulge him when he's been a good (or very bad!) boy.
5. Be Thoughtful Even after 12 ½ years of marriage, Michi keeps things fresh with sweet, thoughtful gestures. "When I'm out to lunch or dinner without Jose, say it's with a sister or a business partner, I order something Jose may like for take home. He loves it when I remember him while I'm out. You should hear the sing-song 'Thank you honey!' Of course I sit with him while he eats take-out. It should always come with animated kwento from the meal I had without him."
6. Date night Michelle, the multi-tasking mom behind the blog MyMomFriday.com, hypes the value of "cheap thrills and date nights" in her blog post Seven Years After I Do Part 2: "Whatever happens, always have a few hours of bonding time, at least once a week. Say, watching a home movie, playing Wii, or just eating ice cream together. Whatever activity, simple or extravagant, find something to do to stay connected. You will need to schedule this especially with kids around!"
Admittedly, it can be hard to feel sexy and spontaneous while wearing a food-spattered apron and nursing your toddler. But sometimes, the challenge to creatively get your groove on amidst the domesticity makes it all the more exciting!
7. Keep Crushing On Each Other Don't stop flattering your spouse even after exchanging vows. Niña says: "Keep on admiring and appreciating each other, even while work or other everyday concerns keep you from being together."
Michi agrees: "Jose loves watching TV interviews of me. One time while watching an ANC interview, he said: 'Honey wala bang script yan? Tuloy-tuloy ang sagot mo! Bilib naman ako!' [It's a] Mutual admiration society."
8. Look Hot, Feel Hot Brides-to-be are always forewarned not to be lulled into complacency and "let themselves go" after marriage. Though it sounds like it's just for your husband's benefit, looking your best—take note, what YOU think is your best—is for your own self-confidence, too.
Cresta del Rosario King, who's been married to hubby Brian for 16 years and is now a full-time mommy of three, shares: "Take the time to keep fit and take care of yourself so you can stay attractive to your spouse. I think that works both ways, no? There is no other feeling like walking into a room with your arm around your hubby and thinking, wow, he's MY date! But the best reason is this: longevity. If we take care of ourselves now, we can live a longer, healthier life into retirement with each other!"
9. Pick your sparring strategy It's different for every couple, so early on, figure out the best way to resolve differences—and, as they say, choose your battles.
Margarita Locsin Chan, wife and mom to two kids has found her own approach when fights arise with her husband Antonio: "We keep it going by not freaking out at one another. Fights are the biggest romance zappers, so when we argue, I back down—mainly because (a) my husband is predominantly always right, at least in a practical sense because admittedly I can go off the deep end, and (b) even if he is wrong, he will argue with me until I'm worn down. It's better to just let him win (wink! wink!)."
10. It's Not All About Sex Recapturing newlywed bliss doesn't just mean reigniting the fire in bed. It's that feeling of utter happiness and gratitude at waking up next to him in the morning. It's the love and care you put into preparing his favorite dish, or even just simply listening to him rant—really listening, not just letting it go in one ear and out the other.
The key to recapturing honeymoon bliss is being completely there for your partner, still devoted heart and soul as the day you were married. Yes, there may be other things that warrant your attention—kids, careers, social obligations, financial matters—but instead of driving you apart, weathering them together should only bring you closer.