How To Make The Most Out Of The Post-Honeymoon Phase Of Your Relationship
by Olivia Tan. |
Nothing can quite replace that feeling of excitement and thrill you get when you are in a new relationship. You feel your heart pound when you spot him entering the room. Sparks seem to fly when you both catch each other’s eyes and a shiver runs down your spine.
I may be exaggerating, but experts have likened this feeling to being on a high. “You have more motivation. You have seeking behaviour. You’ll generally put out more energy. It’s drug-like because it’s a very real physical experience,” says marriage and family therapist Lori Schade, PhD, LMFT. Here’s where the bad news comes in; this amazing period will end.
“It’s human nature to take what’s consistently available to us for granted,” says Ginnie Love, Ph.D., psychotherapist. When we think that we know all there is to know about our partner and there is nothing new left to discover, that’s when the post-honeymoon phase kicks in.
Some may describe this phase to feeling bored and some would just say that they are too familiar with their partners. Experts say that the honeymoon period can last from 6 up to a maximum of 24 months but research has shown that it will, most definitely, come to an end.
Now, the start of the post-honeymoon phase is not necessarily a bad thing and the good news is that you and your significant other can still make the most out of this phase of your relationship. My boyfriend and I have entered the third year of our semi long-distance relationship. I call it a semi long distance one because he lives in Singapore while I’m way over here… in Johor Bahru.
We do not have the luxury of seeing each other regularly but planning a meet up only requires us to cross borders, albeit an international one. I’d like to think that we are still enjoying the honeymoon phase and it is my theory that part of the reason is that crossing borders while clutching my passport makes me feel as if I’m having a mini-vacation every time. Plus, there are also a few things that we do as a couple to make the most out of this relationship.
1. Experience and learn new things together
One thing that helps us is that we are open to trying out new things together. The most memorable experience was attending an outdoor music festival. Mind you, we have very different taste in music and one band he likes would be closing that day’s performance. Since it was my first time to any outdoor music festival, I was excited to see what it was like.
Everything was great; the music was good and singing along to the band is not one experience I will forget. That’s when it started pouring. We were soaked! But… it was fun! Looking back at some of our adventures, not every moment was fantastic, but we still laugh about it and remind each other to be better prepared for the next one.
When you put yourself out there to learn and experience something new, it helps you grow as a person. You adapt and also gain insights about the world around you. So, as you and your partner open up to trying new things and experiences together, you get to learn more about each other and create a stronger bond between the both of you. This is because you will be witnessing each other’s growth and personal development.
As we create more memories, we create an anticipation for the next time and that helps to keep us excited for the many new things we have yet to experience.
2. Being intentional about our conversations
When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, you may fall into a repetitive routine during your conversations. “Good morning.” “How was your day?” “What did you eat?” “Was work okay?” And conversation starters like this can slowly trap you into thinking that you have nothing more to talk about.
It was especially difficult during the MCO period when most of us were working from our homes and there was nothing new to our days. Even so, we made it a point to schedule in a Skype call once every few days to talk and listen.
We would come to the conversation prepared with things that we wanted to share. Sometimes it could be serious discussions about an issue happening around us or it could be sharing a funny anecdote. And honestly, nothing beats seeing the other’s face react to your joke as compared to an emoji you may get.
We also celebrated our anniversary long-distance and what I did was to create a list (a whopping 154 questions list) of reflective relationship questions; some serious, some fun and some flirty for us to randomly select, reflect and look back at the past year. He recorded the entire call so maybe we would watch it next year and cringe over our answers.
Some people I’ve talked to would express surprise and sometimes shock when I tell them I am still getting to know my boyfriend. “It’s been years. You still don’t know him?” would be one reply I get too often. Truth be told, you should never stop learning about your partner because really, change is the only thing that is constant. Therefore, it is through intentional conversations that you and your partner grow together through each change and continue to build your relationship for the long haul.
One thing that is important to remember is to have fun together. Play and laugh! We are both quite big on games, but we have very different preferences. I’m more of a mobile game person while he prefers PC. Thankfully, we’ve found a few that we could play together and enjoy. We’ve done skribbl.io which we think is great to test each other’s drawing skills and the results can be hilarious!
Another that we keep going back to is one on the Steam platform, Don’t Starve Together. This game is great as it does require some teamwork to survive the cruel universe of Don’t Starve. We have even tried the mini-games available on the Messenger app and lots of screenshots to torment each other with from time to time. We do this during some of our calls and the spontaneity of it keeps our time together fun and filled with laughter.
I believe that playing is another good way of seeing your partner in action. You can see his or her competitiveness and even problem-solving skills. And as you both play together, you learn to work with each other’s differences and style in a fun environment.
These are some of what I do with my boyfriend that helps to keep our relationship strong and growing. When – and I say when, because it does happen – you feel as though you are becoming too familiar with the relationship and boredom is slowly creeping closer, take this time to reflect on your relationship and to remember the good, the bad and how far the both of you have come.
Everything I mentioned worked for my relationship because we both wanted this, and we put in the effort to make it work. According to relationship and marriage counsellor, Kevon Owen, M.S., LPC, “Contrary to what the latest love story movie might suggest, love is a choice.” So, try some of these suggestions to make the most out of your post-honeymoon phase and I hope it brings back that spark and excitement!
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