How can I keep my love life alive?

Just consider: Can't holding hands be as intimate as intercourse? Doesn't the fact your partner did the laundry, folded it and put it away (without being asked!) make you want him as much as candles and flowers? Can't the passion you feel sharing your child's first word with your partner, or buying your first house together, be just as vital as the passion you experience during a marathon lovemaking session?

It's important to bring passion and intimacy into the everyday corners of your life instead of saving them for the bedroom, vacations or romantic outings.

It really doesn't have to be that difficult. Here are a handful of simple yet effective ways to bring passion and intimacy to the everyday:
  • Pursue a new hobby together. It could be wine tasting, a high school sports team you follow closely or reading the same book and discussing it. Do something together that enhances your knowledge of a subject and of each other.
  • Exercise together. Walk, run, do sit-ups. Be a support partner for each other and acknowledge any small gains made for getting healthier and sexier. Consider showering together.
  • Touch each other 10 times a day. It could be anything from a kiss to a pinch, but the understanding is that this is not going to lead directly to sex. It's just a way of physically connecting with one another.
  • Plan, prepare and cook a meal together. You'd be surprised at the sensual punch cooking a meal together can have. And, of course, you get to enjoy it with each other.
  • Schedule a sex date. Planning for sex builds up excitement, expectation and desire that normally just isn't there when you crawl into bed at 11.
  • Put a lock on your bedroom door. This is particularly important if you have children (or adult children) still at home, or even a dog that's used to having the run of the place.
  • Set a moratorium on all sex for several weeks or even a month. That doesn't mean you can't continue touching one another and talking about sex. You just can't have sex. The sheer act of prohibiting something makes it all the more enticing.
  • Be realistic about the time sex takes to accomplish. We all have busy lives and likely are exhausted by day's end. But, don't let the sex act take on unrealistic proportions. After all, it probably takes only about 10 minutes from start to finish for most people.
Dr. Catherine Birndorf, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, emphasizes the importance of working at your relationship all year round. "Most people don't realize a relationship is effortful and not static. It's a dynamic evolution," she says.

"A genuine interest and curiosity about your partner is essential — take the care and make the time to keep up with him or her," she adds. Dr. Birndorf suggests the following tips for keeping your love alive:
  • Let the past repeat itself. Recall favorite memories of times spent together and try to find similar activities. Whether it's a nice dinner out, a night at the theater, a day spent walking around town or a vacation, think about some of your best times together and create opportunities for them.
  • Take time out. Try to connect at least once a day, and set aside quality time once a week to do something you both enjoy.
  • Be a thoughtful gift giver. The best gifts aren't the most expensive ones, but the ones that really say "I know you well" and make the other person feel special. Go the extra mile — beyond flowers and candy — to get something that is really unique to your partner.
  • Give in once in a while. On special occasions, let your partner choose something he or she enjoys but you may not. You may be surprised how good it feels to give selflessly and end up having a great time.
  • Share your thoughts. Leave a note for your partner in the morning, send a flirty text message or e-mail, or leave a sweet voicemail when you know he or she is away from the phone. These tiny acts of appreciation are sure to brighten your partner's day.
  • Schedule in sex. In today's world, you can't always expect spontaneity. Make a date for sex and be strategic — schedule play dates for the kids or set an alarm for the early morning. Having it on the schedule will give you something to look forward to and may allow the excitement to build around it.
  • Never underestimate the power of a compliment. Taking a moment to tell your partner that he or she looks nice today can go a long way. Allowing him or her to start the day with an extra confidence boost will make you feel good, too.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.