Yes, I'm still married - but as they say, one monkey don't stop no show, and two sets of vows don't either.
Before you start thinking that I'm about to announce my foray into an open marriage, I have to apologize - it really isn't that interesting. What I'm referring to is keeping the flame going. Keeping things hot and spicy. Or to quote King Beyonce, "keeping it like it is so you can never say how it used to be."
Last night, I was playing some music while getting ready for my shower and had a hankering for some Amerie. I started choosing from her debut album All I Have, and instantly was taken back to the summer of 2002. I won't rehash the story, but you can catch up here. While I lathered up and belted out "Show Me" along with Amerie, I took a stroll down memory lane. That summer of 2002 - the summer when I met and started dating HomieLoverFriend - was one of the most fun, romantic, and enchanted summers of my life. It was like I had my own personal Tinkerbell on my shoulder who sprinkled every day with fairydust, and left a trail of stardust every night. It was nothing short of magical.
Reminsicing made me wonder about that magic. Where does it go after 3 years of dating, an amicable break that turned into an ugly break-up (taking a "break" is a fallacy, y'all), 2 years apart, a reconciliation, 3 more years of dating, an engagement, a wedding, and now this special Bonnie & Clyde thing we've got goin' on now? It might be easy for some to say that the magic fades - but I realized that after all the ups and downs, the magic is what got us and keeps us here.
I think it's crucial for people in long-term relationships to remember what attracted and bonded you to each other in the first place. The physical things that caught your eye. The anticipation of date nights and looking forward to spending quality time together. Most importantly for me are the acts of intimacy. A hand on the small of your back as you walked through a crowd together? The comfort of conversations spent learning about each other? Sharing physical expressions of your feelings for one another and crossing the various thresholds therein? There's nothing like it.
The biggest threats to intimacy are pretty much anything else that takes away from the time and effort needed to maintain it. Things within and outside of my control have tried to siphon the intimacy out of my relationship at various points, but as soon as the lack is recognized, it needs to be addresed. For me, I love to think back to what made everything feel magical, and work to recreate that - hence my vow to start dating this year. I want to get dolled up, hit a bar with a jukebox and slow dance. I want to call him on his lunch break and tell him where to meet me after work for surprise rendez-vous. I want to turn off the TV, spread a blanket, and have a picnic in the living room. I want to buy some fly lingerie, get my hair done, and have some sexy time in a sexy hotel room. Oh, my friends - dates will be had and all will be well.
So, how do you gauge the magic quotient of your relationship? Checking in with yourself and each other is crucial. Do you notice that your work schedule has taken away from your time together? Are 95% of your conversations about bills, chores, or to-do lists? Are you both just so settled and comfortable with each other that putting in the extra effort doesn't seem necessary? If so, switch it up! Give your partner an extra-long kiss before they leave for work. Plan dates, even if you have to carve out specific days in the week to do so. Remember what you did to attract and entice your partner - the pressure may be off now, but that effort is needed to keep the passion going.
After a year that was marked with over-working, stress, and sickness, HomieLoverFriend and I have recommitted ourselves to all things fun and forward-moving in our relationship. Instead of hopping out of bed to work on the laptop on a Saturday morning, we gon' snuggle up. Instead of having dinner in front of the TV, we gon' get some candlelight and fine china going on the dinner table (unless Scandal is on). Instead of allowing weeks of work/side-hustles/finances/life stuff to pass without checking in, we gon' dedicate time for nothing else except each other. You may love your partner with all your heart - but do you act like you're in love with them? Check in with yourself, check in with your partner, then proceed accordingly.
Let me wrap this up. I have a date tonight, and I'm looking forward to it. That magic quotient (along with my lingerie ownership and likelihood that your call will get sent to voicemail if I'm...busy) is on the rise y'all. Need to get yours up? Start today, and thank me later.
Are you in a long-term relationship? How do you keep the magic and passion alive? Or are you realizing that the fire has dimmed and needs to be reignited? Let me know what you think!