Been having conversations this week about the elements of a flourishing long-term relationship. These can be summarised as passion, romance, companionship and commitment. There have been further discussions about what romance means and even whether it is relevant when you are several years, perhaps even decades into a committed partnership. If romance however, is defined as the words you say and the things you do that make someone feel special and valued – going out of your way to demonstrate that you care – then it does become important. This extra thoughtfulness can make all the difference when the going gets tough and can add a spark to re-energise what may have become humdrum. It is feeding your emotional bank account so that you have something to draw on when needed, either individually or together as a couple. Romance often gets squeezed out by the demands of everyday living – resurfacing for a few hours on Valentine’s day or birthdays. Many people come to think it unnecessary or sentimental – especially those guys for whom imaginative gestures are not second nature! So here are some thoughts on ways to cheer your lover and keep romance alive. Few cost much except the will and just a bit of effort – from both of you, one person taking the initiative all the time doesn’t work.

  1. Have an occasional evening meal lit by candles
  2. Post a card (yes, snail mail) just saying you’re special
  3. Put a single flower on a tray with a morning cup of tea
  4. Plan a walk for a Sunday morning
  5. Book a massage, facial, sauna or turkish bath
  6. Write a funny or loving message on the bathroom mirror
  7. Download a film with an exotic location and make up an exotic cocktail to have while watching it.
  8. Suggest an away day to look forward to and plan together
  9. Plan a Sunday lunch and friends to share it with – cook together (unless you know you will kill each other sharing a kitchen!)
  10. Have an evening where you pretend you are at a concert – do a programme of music and then either just listen or dance together
  11. When the weather is warm plan a picnic somewhere beautiful and peaceful (or even in your local park if this is a step too far)
  12. Plan a mystery tour for a weekend afternoon
  13. Or an unplanned mystery tour – just head out in the car and go left and right randomly and see where it takes you. Take a satnav for the return journey!
  14. Book a table in a hotel for afternoon tea
  15. Visit an art gallery and compare your most or least favourite works of art
  16. Fill the house with incense or other wonderful aromas – home-made bread is good!
  17. Eat fish and chips out of the paper somewhere in the open air
  18. On a cold day, run a warm bath with bubbles or fragrant oil
  19. Go feed the ducks!
  20. Find a heart shaped anything – and place it on the pillow
  21. Put a post-it on your computer, bedside lamp or kitchen bench saying LET”S!
  22. Have a reminiscence evening to talk about your three best memories – over a glass or two of wine and some nice nibbles. Are they the same memories?
  23. Make a collage of your relationship over time
  24. If you don’t have the skill or inclination to write, copy a poem or saying that sums up what you feel, put in an envelope saying ‘for you’ and leave it somewhere in the house
  25. Make a favourite cake – buy it if you must! Ice it with something meaningful
  26. Plan a games evening with friends
  27. Go to the zoo – have a photograph competition – the cutest, scariest, most endangered.
  28. Choose an animal together to sponsor in the wild
  29. Buy something small, simple but lovely (soap / scarf / book) and wrap it up in lots of boxes and paper so it makes a really large parcel.
  30. Wait till it gets dark, open some sparkling wine, take it outside and light some sparklers.
  31. Find a really funny movie and spend an evening laughing together – uncontrollable giggles deliver lots of oxytocin – the feel-good neurotransmitter that connects people
  32. So does touch – rub in some body butter
  33. Visit a garden or a park and pretend it’s yours (perhaps not cut the flowers!)
  34. Decide on a worthy cause to sponsor together
  35. Find a hall of mirrors and laugh at yourselves in different shapes and sizes
  36. Have flowers delivered for no special occasion
  37. Go out to dinner and talk about the reasons why you still love each other
  38. Bring home chocolate strawberries
  39. Phone friends and fix events – a drink, a coffee, a show. Keep your social life alive.
  40. Book a salsa lesson together, book any lesson!
  41. Share short snippets of things you read that amuse, enrage or inspire you
  42. The day after seeing a play, film or going to a concert have a meal together to talk about it.
  43. Try different conversations:
    • If you were an animal what would you want to be?
    • If you won a million on the lottery how much would you give away and to whom?
    • What’s the one place on the planet you most want to visit and why
    • If you could be anyone else who would that be – would you rather be you?
    • What is the one thing you would like to be remembered for
  44. Find out who might be speaking in your town in the next few months that you would like to hear – book to go together
  45. Play word games on long journeys; there’s lots of choice from simple to intellectual
  46. Podcast a funny radio show or play, listen to it in bed together on a weekend morning with tea and toast
  47. Dare to be different – wear something slightly out of character – check out your charity shops for ideas – talk about how it feels to take a tiny risk?
  48. Determine to do something just a little different every day – doesn’t have to be much but will keep your creativity – and your relationship – alive
  49. Buy a book with blank pages – write down ideas as they occur.
  50. Have moments of mindfulness – stop and just be together, drink each other in, feel the history and experiences that bind you, the warmth you have created, the energy you have sparked, the power and comfort that rests in just being together – and treasure this.