Synopsis: ‘Sparking’ is first explained, then ascending, leveling off and sinking love relationships; and those in need of re-sparking are discussed; and finally 10 not so usual how-to’s for re-sparking a love relationship are given, along with some of their scientific support.
In years gone by couples talked about sparking, or sparking up their romantic or love-mated relationships. Sparking could be anything from suggestive flirting to writing and reading love poems, to passionate kissing and erotic fondling. Sparking up could be returning to dating actions, dancing, being seductive and engaging in more than usual sexual action. All this was aimed at causing “sparky” or enlivened, desirable feelings together. Today in our busy world lots of couples could use some sparking or re-sparking.
Ascending, Leveling off or Sinking?
What do you think of the idea that says ‘if you’re love life isn’t growing’ its dying’? A great many couples don’t consciously know it but they have been subconsciously programmed to think that in the early stages of a love relationship it’s all exciting and automatically growing, but then it levels off, and if all goes well it just stays leveled off and ongoing. Sort of like a mesa (a flat top mountain), there’s the climbing up, and you reach the flat place, and you walk on the flat place from then on, until the end and you fall off or have to climb down. Others think that at least some romantic relationships are more like a another type of mountain, one you can keep going higher and higher on.
Then of course there are those who think of romantic relationships more like a swamp, but we will not deal with that right now. In your love relationships, not only with a romantic love partner, but with children and family, with friends, etc. do you think you are going about it in a way that is ascending, i.e. getting better and better, or leveling off, or slowly perhaps, sinking? Some think there is no such thing as leveling off, there is only very slow deterioration or declining slope. That is the ‘you are growing, or you are dying’ point of view. It is true that lots of spouse-type love relationships do level off and become dull, emotionally flat or bland, and that can lead to stagnation and deterioration without people noticing it soon enough. That is when ‘re-sparking’ your love relationship is likely to help in more ways than you might imagine.
Re-Sparking How to’s and Science
Here are some suggestions, backed up by some scientific evidence as to what they might accomplish:
1. Kiss more, longer and with more variety. Studies at Arizona State University found that couples instructed to kiss more often, reduce their stress hormones and cholesterol levels, along with increasing their happiness.
2. Touch more, especially more lovingly and intimately. Don’t just have perfunctory sex, or if sex has become difficult, do much more caressing, intimate cuddling, and tender erotic and affectionate stroking.
3. Look with love. While mentally focusing on how you love each other, look lengthily into each other’s eyes when talking, don’t just glance, really look with appreciation. The University of California researchers discovered that couples who have good eye contact, and especially with affectionate touching, were a lot happier and felt a lot more appreciated than others.
4. Talk nice. Remember your voice tones can send very different messages than the words you say. Also remember ‘The 5to1 Ratio’. Replicated research at several institutions has shown that couples who average ‘five positive, affirming comments’ to ‘every negative remark’ do the best in happiness and successful, lasting love relating. So praise, compliment and voice thanks frequently. Couples who get ‘5 negatives’ to ‘every positive’ end, or go on in misery endlessly.
5. Sleep close. In Britain researchers discovered that couples who touch as they go to sleep, while they sleep, and when they wake up, and couples who snuggle a lot, and are usually within an inch or less of each other at night are happiest. It seems ‘the further apart physically, the further apart emotionally’. If there are medical reasons not to sleep together, cuddle more before and after sleep.
6. Do new things together. Go new places, take a class together, volunteer, work together for a cause you both are for, learn a new kind of dancing and meet new people. If you want to add new sparks to your heart-life, do new things together that require some learning together. That comes from studies done at the Marital Studies Lab, University of North Carolina.
7. Play with sex toys together. Research done at Indiana University revealed that both males and females who play with sex toys together, and especially vibrators are sexually more satisfied, and interestingly enough they more frequently get regular medical checkups and do better self exams physically.
8. Use visual reminders. Couples who put up pictures from their previous years together, and have mementos around, and have other visual reminders of vacations and other good times together, help to reconnect and inspire them, or in other words ‘re-spark’ their relationship better and more often, plus they plan more good events to put in their life together. That comes from the Couples Lab at the University of Wisconsin.
9. Co-write your love story. According to the University of Pennsylvania, Center for Couples and Adult Families, it will do you and yours a lot of good to write the narrative history of your love relationship. That can start you talking about future hopes and dreams, and help you feel more bonded together and generally ‘re-sparked’.
10. Study Love and It’s How to’s. Clinical evidence points to the couples who really, consciously work to learn more about how to show, receive, grow and make healthy their expressions of healthy, real love do far better than those who do not, and they do better than those who only do this kind of study in a more minor way.
Thanks to AARP for research guidance on these studies.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
♥ Love Success Question: Are there signs that your major love relationship(s) could use some re-sparking?