When the everyday sneaks into love life, romance can turn to routine.
- Lying next to your partner.
- Kissing goodbye or a brief peck for a hello.
- "Love you" as a conversation filler.
- Date night is filled with catching up on the week's missed episodes on Hulu.
The science behind routine is significant. Our brains are wired for "autopilot", where the routine tasks in life can be done with little additional cognitive thought (not the same as an "idle" brain since the complexity of thought process is still present when the brain is acting in "autopilot"), this is the brain's default mode and neurologically is the most direct pathway in the brain [source]. So, it's no true fault of one partner or another if your relationship has become "routine".
How can couples step out of this autopilot and generate ingenuity and reform in their relationship?
One way is to literally trip over it; set something in your way that reminds you to pay attention to your spouse. When you're walking aimlessly through life, something as simple as a sneeze can snap you back into reality.
- Put a sticky note on the top of your alarm clock, to sneak in an extra 6-second kiss before leaving for work
- Put a pair of clean socks for you and him next to the place you set your keys, so when you both come home for the day, you can put on the clean socks and give each other a foot massage while you talk about the day
- Put her gym shoes next to the place where you take off your shoes after work. As you remove your shoes, bring the gym shoes to her and encourage her to get out and run off the day's stress
- Set up reminders in your phone to text a pic of yourself or something that makes you think of him throughout the day
Tripping over these deliberately placed obstacles enables you to cognitively re-engage in the relationship. This requires intentional actions, willpower, and decisions. Practice loving well by loving often. Activate your love for each other by grooming your day toward connection.
So, how can you stimulate love and connection with your partner when it feels like romance has become routine or even obsolete? Fall in love again by tripping over it.