How to Keep the Honeymoon Halo Alive

It’s been the best week of your life: Sipping coconut drinks in the shade, you and your new husband have never gotten along so well. On the beaches of Aruba, you’ve planned out a whole life together. Still, you can’t shake that voice in your head: What will it be like after the honeymoon?

On the honeymoon, it’s easy to think married life must be all sunshine and roses. But for most couples, the real world catches up. Laundry piles up. Long days at work take their toll.

Don’t let the joy of the honeymoon disappear when you hop on the flight home. Housework has to get done and bills have to get paid, but through it all, you can keep that flame alive. Here’s how to do it:

Start every day with love

How you and your husband start each day sets the tone. You may not have time for a full-on snuggle session on weekday mornings, but there are plenty of small things you can do to make one another feel loved.

Make physical touch part of your morning ritual. Even small touches release oxytocin, often called the “love hormone.” Spend a few minutes together before getting out of bed. Hold hands. Give each other a brief massage.

Be playful

During the daily grind, it’s easy to forget the value of play. Relationships aren’t all about whose turn it is to do the dishes. Think about all the ways dishes alone can be made more fun: Play a game of 20 questions, listen to a podcast you both enjoy, or even start a suds fight.

Don’t forget to spend time with other couples you enjoy, either. Pick one couple to invite over for dinner once a week. Why not kick back with a glass of wine and take turns answering newlywed questions? Do a double date out every once in a while.

Show appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated, especially from his or her significant other. Don’t underestimate the value of “thank you.” Give small gifts, especially when your partner isn’t expecting it.

Take the time to learn each other’s love languages. Reward your partner when he takes a tough or unpleasant task off your plate. If quality time is your husband’s top language, enjoy a romantic dinner together when he finishes repainting the dining room.

Cut each other some slack

Hard times happen to every couple. When a pipe bursts at home because your husband forgot to leave the heat on over a holiday trip, don’t make matters worse by blowing up at him. If he screws up a sale at work and loses a commission check you were both expecting, remind him that it’s only money.

Sooner or later, you’ll make a similar mistake. If you take bad news in stride, he’ll do the same when the shoe is on the other foot. Support each other, and see how much easier those tough times get.

Designate a date night

When couples get married, dates often fall by the wayside. Keep the romance alive by enjoying those happy-go-lucky nights together once a week.

What you do together doesn’t matter as long as you both enjoy it. Go to a movie. Race go-karts late into the night. Take a walk and just talk to each other. Wherever you live, there are dozens of ways to enjoy a few hours out together.

Plan a new adventure

No matter how much you enjoy life at home together, every couple needs an adventure to look forward to. Relive the honeymoon at least once a year. Take a long weekend, or even a full week, to explore a new environment together.

Adventures don’t have to be expensive or far from home. Spend a few days in a nearby national park. Book a hotel room in your hometown and play tourist together. Pick the cheapest flight available on the days you both have off, and see what that city has to offer.

Your honeymoon may be over, but your life together is just beginning. Enjoy it. The real world is only as much of a drag as you make it.

Know that you are not alone

You and everyone else will go through the same thing, the same journey, on the same road. Let that be a source of strength to you.

Understand why the honeymoon phase ends

The honeymoon phase has the purpose of bringing and keeping the two of you together but it cannot last, for it is often too all-consuming and keeps you from looking outward to other relationships and parts of your life, such as work and general commitments. To be whole, eventually the honeymoon phase must pass. Moreover, part of the change is that your desire has been fulfilled. From the first kiss, all the way to the walk down commitment land, now you have each other and the rest of your life is vying for attention again.

Expect the realities of living together to start opening your eyes

As the two of you settle into reality, you will begin to see that your partner is just like you, with all the quirks, forgetfulness, or imperfections, from complaining to struggling with life as you do. As each of you seeks to restore your sense of self and determine your comfort zones, the habits you both have will surface, the things you tried to keep unnoticed will reveal themselves and things left unsaid earlier suddenly need urgent expression.

Face all these little things by handling them constructively and with a positive mindset

If you push them away, ignore them, or become negative about the changes, you will find the transition from honeymoon phase to real life a hard one, and things left unclarified and unexpressed will ultimately haunt you and undermine your relationship. It is far better to discuss the changes you notice openly, to clarify the boundaries each of you prefers and to be honest about how the changes make you feel.

See the changes as good things

Acceptance of the routine of a relationship is actually the key to lifelong contentment with each other. The routine is a sign that both of you are settling down to everyday life together in a healthy and realistic manner. When you stay positive and realize that this is just part of your daily lives, you will be ahead of the game. There is nothing fancy or dreamlike about having a partner. It is about working things out together. Not in a blaming, irresponsible way, but in a mature way. And the mature way is to keep open the channels of good talking and to ensure that there is plenty of discussion.

Keep on creating and maintaining the relationship

Make time to pursue some shared interests that both of you find fun and enjoyable. If you and your partner have a great friendship to start with, then it is easier, as trust and faith have already been built in.

Give each other some slack and down time

No one is perfect, and no one is going to give and let you be happy all the time. Allow for differences of interests, of opinion and of preferences. Neither of you is a clone of the other and by ensuring that each has space and the freedom to pursue different interests for some of the time, you’ll both have plenty to talk about and you’ll both feel fulfilled. Your relationship benefits from respecting each other’s independence as much as acknowledging your togetherness.

Find, then pursue, what makes you happy

That, in turn, will release your partner to do the same. It is not one tying the other, but it is two people in the car together going somewhere or nowhere.

Take care of your own feelings

Talk or do whatever it takes to make your end of the relationship as best as possible. This means not bottling up resentments or anger but finding the earliest possible opportunities to address the things that bother you in constructive ways. If you don’t feel you can talk to your partner about something, find a trustworthy friend, sibling or counselor to confide in, someone who can help you to decide how to move forward and eventually address the issue with your partner.

Make a commitment to recommitting to your relationship at set times during your life

This might be a marriage vow renewal, a special ceremony honoring the two of you or a trip away to somewhere that both of you hold dear. Whatever you choose to do, make this recommitment time focused just on the two of you, to rejuvenate a little of that honeymoon magic that you both once felt, to restore a frisson of the excitement of young love back into your relationship. If you do this every few years or so, it will help both of you to remember what attracted you to one another and why you are both so willing to keep making this commitment for the rest of your lives together.

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