Everyone wishes the exhilarating, idyllic, falling-in-love stage of a relationship could last forever.
Everything feels so perfect and exciting and romantic.
But at some point, reality always sets in. The pressures and challenges of daily life—plus getting to know your lover on a deeper level and discovering each other’s flaws—will cause the excitement of the honeymoon phase to subside.
For too many couples, this shift to reality is the beginning of the end. But when love is real, it should be the beginning of “forever,” says Tanya Zaufi.
Tanya, the author of All Over the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and a Date with Destiny, met her true love, Josef, who’s from Austria, while they were both working on a cruise ship. Then, for eight years, they struggled to adjust to the reality of life beyond the fantasy world on board. But they made it! Today, they are married with two children.
She offers the following tips for getting over the hurdles of transitioning from the honeymoon phase to the rest of your life:
1. Always remember why you fell in love in the first place.
This includes seeing the good in each other, even in difficult times. Then, when you get to the easy days, the love will be that much stronger.
2. Be spontaneous.
Even though everyone’s lives get busy, spontaneous planning sometimes ends up being the best. Surprise your partner at work with a coffee or pick him or her up for an impromptu dinner and drinks.
3. Remember to still be playful together.
Make time to be light-hearted and fun. For instance, if you live in the frosty north, play in the snow together, make a snowman, or go sledding. But if you live on the toasty side, play at the beach together, make a snowman of sand, be playful in the water. It is okay to be a little silly and act like kids sometimes. When you go home, warm up together (or you can cool off together too)!
4. Plan a romantic date night.
Make an invitation for your lover, inviting him or her to dinner or a wine and cheese tasting night at home. Alone. Make it fun; set the mood with ambiance: candles, music, have the coziness of the fireplace going, dress for romance. (Put some spice into it!) This can bring out desires in both of you. Make it count and live in the moment!
5. Have a movie night or book night.
Set the fireplace, get a cozy blanket, have some tasty drinks and yummy snacks, and watch a romantic movie. Or read your book of choice side-by-side. Snuggle up! Sometimes the best way to get in the mood for love is to enjoy a great love story together.
6. Keep working toward shared goals.
Just because you are past the honeymoon phase doesn’t mean you stop working together toward shared visions and goals. It’s just the opposite; striving together helps keep a relationship fresh, exciting, and alive. Believe and support each other. You are each other’s biggest cheerleader.
7. Compromise regularly and fairly.
To successfully move beyond the honeymoon phase, you have to be willing to compromise fairly. That means both of you have to make concessions. If you ask your partner to give something up, then be prepared to offer something back. These compromises will only benefit your relationship. This can include mundane everyday things or situations that are on a deeper level. Remember that great things take time. Good things come to those who work for it.
Don’t rush judgment on flaws when transitioning from the honeymoon phase to the rest of your life. Take each other’s flaws as a positive thing—it makes you different from each other. Make light of them (the ones you can). And if there are more complicated flaws for you to overcome, talk to them about it—be open and honest. If they weren’t around, it just might be those little things that will probably make you smile.
9. Communicate openly and honestly, letting your vulnerability show.
Talk and have real conversations, both deep and light-hearted. It could be about everyday things; this will lead you to learn more about your partner. It is okay to have those tough conversations, too, as they build your relationship past just romance and lust. They build your friendship, which is a huge part of any relationship.
It brings you that much closer to your best friend. This is also what makes a great, long-lasting relationship—when you can talk about anything. Always be open and honest with your partner; communication is key. Let your loved ones know if they aren’t communicating with you as much as you would like.
Everyone has different needs, and unfortunately, they cannot read your mind. Be vulnerable and let your guard down. Let them in! Also, listen to what your partner has to say and understand that their way may be different than yours, and that is okay. Communication is the glue to your relationship. Face every problem together. Work on one problem at a time. You are a team, and together you can take on the world.
10. Be willing to make sacrifices.
Sacrifice may feel painful at times, but this shows just what it means to truly love another person unconditionally. Your sacrifices support your partner in a positive way, and it will make your relationship that much more dynamic and powerful.
11. Be creative.
Make them a special memory book filled with pictures of your past adventures together, and add cute captions. This will definitely pull on the heartstrings and will be overflowing with so much love—something to cherish forever.
12. Thoughtful gestures.
Surprise them and make them breakfast in bed. Or it can be something as simple as making them a special coffee or wiping the snow off their car one wintery morning.
13. Write a love letter or make a thoughtful, playful gift.
The gift doesn’t have to be anything expensive as it is the thought, time, and heart that make a difference. Old-fashioned gestures offer so many ways to get creative when expressing love. Write a love letter and leave it with instructions on when to open it.
Or leave love notes around the house. It can be something you love about them or a seductive note (maybe make a “naughty and nice” list, keeping it light and fun). Or maybe make your sticky notes a scavenger hunt with your love letter at the end or a wrapped package with some lingerie (or you at the end…in the bedroom).
It is always the thought that counts, and these can make the heart skip a beat and light that fire again! I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of a thoughtful gift like that. It was sent by snail-mail as we lived two continents apart, but you could even create a gesture like this in your wrapped present above.
For me, my lover mailed me a parcel with a message in a bottle. He wrote a love letter and literally took the time to burn the edges of it. He put the scrolled letter into a bottle tied with a red ribbon, accompanied by a dried long-stemmed red rose and a meaningful CD with the song “I Could Not Ask for More” by Edwin McCain. We were thousands of miles apart, but his gesture melted my heart.
When you are having a hard time, remember that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Have the courage to shape your own destiny and believe in it. Sometimes, there is no path. You simply have to create your own.
Once in a lifetime, you meet someone who changes everything.