Q: How do you keep the love alive in a long-term relationship, especially when the giddiness fades?

A: Since I’m celebrating twenty years of marriage this year, I’d love to answer this question. Although I believe it differs in every relationship, I also believe there are key elements for a successful relationship.

I often think it’s my husband’s patience and my mother’s prayers that have kept us married. I was pretty immature the first few years. Patience and prayer are definitely key elements, but learning to communicate is also top of the list. Not only learning to communicate but learning how your man communicates, because not only can lack of communication cause problems, but inability to communicate. Everyone communicates differently and you shouldn’t expect their language to be the same as yours.

It’s also important to realize that long-term love doesn’t always net giddiness. Our bodies couldn’t handle that type of emotion all the time. It’d be like being stressed all the time; it wears down your body. I know of many people who let go of a relationship because they stop feeling giddy and get tired of the same old humdrum day, but having that long-term (what some experts call mature love) is so much more exciting! Sometimes, it just takes a bit more work and creativity.

So how do you keep that love and giddiness alive? Outside the normal date night advice, I encourage a woman to “dress up” for her husband. It’s easy to get into a routine, and sometimes changing that routine without making him aware you’ve changed it can net excitement. It doesn’t mean cutting your hair or drastically changing your color, but maybe wearing high heels with torn jeans while you’re cooking dinner. Even if he doesn’t notice, you’ll know and feel more excited.

Do something different. Even if your husband doesn’t respond in the way you’d like, it doesn’t mean he didn’t notice. Find a babysitter, cook a nice dinner, or rent a hotel room. Maybe you can’t do it every week or every month (that would get old anyway), but a few times a year, get away, just you two, and do something different. Go on vacation somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Show some interest in his interests. And never, ever draw attention to your flaws or how you feel about yourself. Likely, he didn’t notice anyway.

Also, remember not to make things all about you. Your husband is a living, breathing human being whose life doesn’t revolve around you but likely wants to make you happy even if he doesn’t show that. Oftentimes he feels he’s making you happy when you laugh at his jokes or appreciate (even something you deem as minuscule or something he should have done in the first place) something he did for you.

It’s important to have your own goals but show interest in his, too. Also, tie him up and blindfold him occasionally. Let him do delicious things to you. Do something outside your comfort zone. Find ways to make your own self happy as well as encouraging things that interest you both. Taking the time to appreciate a relationship far outweighs giddiness any day.

~ Angela Smith, author of Burn on the Western Slope and Fatal Snag