Sunday, November 30, 2008

two years, six months and 25 days

Has the fire gone out?
According to a poll ( of 5000 couples reported in the Daily Mail Reporter the “the fire” goes out of a relationship in two years, six months and 25 days.

Reported symptoms:
• Husbands give up trying to be tidy and wives no longer make an effort to look nice for their spouse
• Couples are far less likely to share the TV remote – 75% of men and women said they wouldn’t relinquish the remote (even if asked nicely)
• 83% of couples surveyed indicated it was a problem to continue celebrating their wedding anniversary by the third year
• More than half of the couples interviewed felt undervalued by their partner
• 70% of men left socks, pants and dirty washing lying around the house (79% no longer bothered putting the lavatory seat down)
• 67% of women said they no longer made the effort to dress up and look nice for their spouse – 54% no longer bothered with make-up – 61% preferred tracksuit bottoms or pj’s while at home
• 83% married couples held hands while out during the first few months of marriage but only 38% after 10 years
• During the first year of marriage partners would cuddle more than 8 times a day – down to 5 or less times after 10 years of marriage
• 60% said they hadn’t been surprised with a romantic night out since marriage
Do any of these statistics hit close to home for you?

In the Threshold Model of Relationship I describe the phase called “Habituation”. Habituation explains the apparent decline of romance and passion that many couples experience. When a relationship is heavily weighted with “habituation”, there is little passion and intimacy stalls out. The law of nature doesn’t allow static to remain static – either decline or growth is the order. The same kind of energy that allowed the relationship in the beginning is essential for sustained growth and health.

Keeping Fire in the Relationship

People are attracted to one another by a form of magic which many call romance. Romance can be defined in many ways. To be romantic, one must be attentive to their partner. “Noticing” or paying attention is really important. Understanding the nature of early bonding between parent and child is really helpful when wanting to become more romantic. In the relationship of parent and child, the parents are attentive to the needs and wants of the child without asking the child what they want or need. In the same way, noticing or paying attention allows each partner to ‘know’ without being told what the other wants or needs.

Surprise and being Surprised
Surprise is a key ingredient in romance, but not the kind of surprise that disregards the partner’s wants and needs. Buying your wife a weed trimmer when she doesn’t enjoy mowing the yard IS NOT the kind of surprise I’m talking about. The surprises that allow your partner to know that you understand their dreams and wishes are the romantic ones.

A key part of romance is being surprised! Many couples have fallen into a pattern where one partner no longer feels creative enough to do the surprising and the other needs to know everything before it happens! Essentially the space between them has become very controlled (habituated) and unfriendly for surprises. The unimaginative partner’s creativity is stifled while the fearful partner needing to know everything in advance leaves no possibility for being surprised. These patterns will need to be thoughtfully changed for the process of romantic surprise to take place.

Practical Tips
• Send a unique gift at work – very simple, homemade, doesn’t need to be perfect
• Find out from partner’s family something they have always wanted? Surprise your partner!
• Go on Dates – Dating is not just for new relationships.

Share your story of how you keep the fire burning!
Suggestions are welcome and might just help someone keep their fire burning!

p.s. - Your suggestions will be compiled into a blog post for others to view.


  1. Whenever my husband would come up behind me while I was doing dishes and just put his arms around my waist and nuzzle my neck made me feel appreciated. OR, when he would kiss me for longer than 5 to 8 seconds passionately and I would end up 'being in the moment' that was a great feeling!

  2. When I worked full-time outside of the home, my husband would put brief encouraging notes in the lunch that he made me. Now he works full-time outside of the home, and I do the same. This is just a small example of attentiveness that makes a relationship grow and last. We will celebrate our 21st anniversary in three months.


Reader Comments

"...My spouse and I have been married for 32 years and I've experienced our relationship from giggly in bed, to passionate in bed, to mad in bed to "sleeping" in bed...As we grow older the intimacy definition changes for me. Intimacy also for me is just sitting quietly, or driving for miles quietly or walking just hearing our footsteps crunch the leaves, holding hands. My usual struggle in intimacy is in my head - I have to intentionally stop my daily to do list, my past and future stuff and live in the present moment..." Pam

it's ... smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion

“We have found that passion ebbs and flows but we set a goal for our relationship a number of years ago that is working for us. At least every six months we do something that will create a lifetime memory. For us, we love to travel, so it's been pretty easy to find something big to do that will create that lifetime memory, but sometimes it's the finding of smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion.” Steve Rae

What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?

“The "typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship" I believe are a) that you feel your partner should have changed or should not have changed and b) that you feel you should change or that you should not have changed.

Acceptance of yourself and your partner leads to forgiveness. What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?” Brian Massey

A word from Russ Hardesty

The realm of relationship is mysterious; filled with magic, surprise, excitement, passion, intimacy, loss, disappointment and creativity. I am fortunate to have a life partner who is at once a mirror, teacher, lover, nurturer, student and companion. In this place of mystery, I continue to grow into a mature, loving and free man. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and comments – which is a gift to me! Thanks for joining the expedition! Russ