3 Steps to Rekindling Your Relationship

Don’t give up on love! Just a few simple tweaks can help you strengthen your bond.

Medically reviewed in January 2021

Updated on September 24, 2021

Desire is a delicate thing. Whether it's your fifth date or your fifth anniversary, it's easy to say or do something that makes that spark between you fizzle faster than uncorked champagne on a hot beach.

In fact, there can be so many passion pitfalls on the way to love it's a wonder the species manages to reproduce at all. But by avoiding just a few of the most common desire dealbreakers, you can get that romantic feeling back on track. Here’s how.

Don't overlook this erotic organ
Surprise: We're talking about your sense of smell.

Bad breath can be a major turnoff and one major culprit is garlic. Almost nothing can mask a serious case garlic breath.

The best preventive move is to avoid garlic all day, not just when you sit down to dinner. If you can't brush and floss after a meal, drink plenty of water while you eat to wash away the food bits that attract bacteria. Then, munch on that parsley garnish, have an apple for dessert, or try one of the many other foods that can naturally sweeten your breath.

Don't be snarky
You want to be open and honest with your significant other, but there are limits to candor, particularly when it comes to the tone and intention of your feedback. The more that partners criticize each other harshly, the more likely their relationship will be to suffer, according to John Gottman, PhD, author of Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.

So maybe your partner did miss their turn doing the laundry this week or you were just a little late bit late to dinner (ok, maybe an hour late) last week. Point out the discrepancy and then put it behind you; rehashing it excessively and with bitterness will only push you away from each other. And it’s hard to feel close from a distance.

As a regular exercise, take turns saying what pleases you about your partner. Go beyond, "You look really hot tonight," (though that's not a bad place to start). Practice showing your gratitude: "It was so cool of you to pick this restaurant. You know I love Italian!"

Happy couples make five times more positive statements about each other than they do negative ones, according to research in the book Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch, PhD . No wonder they have better sex, too. 

Don't skimp on time in the sack
…So you can be sure you’re getting adequate sleep, that is. How can desire stand a chance if you're so tired that even a little extra sleep sounds more enticing than sex?

Poor sleep can lead to inflammation that threatens your arteries, hampering blood flow to all parts of your body, including those critical erogenous zones.

To get the sleep you need, start by going easy on the alcohol. It can disrupt sleep patterns and impede both arousal and sexual performance. Then, be sure to pull the plug on your tech toys at least an hour before bedtime. That means no texting, surfing, gaming, or watching TV in bed. The blue light on those flickering screens has the effect of waking up your brain. Keeping devices out of the bedroom can help you unwind and settle down more effectively, while creating an optimal environment for sleep and intimacy.

If you get the recommended amount of sleep—between 7 and 9 hours per night—you'll also increase your longevity and lower your RealAge by up to 3 years.

Think about that: Three extra years to do whatever your heart—and your lover's heart—desires. Now that's a real turn-on.

Updated in September 2021.

Sources:

Gottman, John. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last. Simon & Schuster. June 1, 1995.
Schnarch, David. Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships. W. W. Norton & Company. April 27, 2009.
Newsom, Rob. How Blue Light Affects Sleep. Sleep Foundation. Updated June 24, 2021.

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