If you’ve lost the passion in your relationship, here’s how to bring back that loving feeling.
“Deidra and Vaughn came to couples therapy because they had been married more than 25 years and as Deidra put it, “Things between us are a little flat.”
“More than a little,” Vaughn added. “It’s like we’re just going through the motions.”
I asked for clarification: “In life in general, in bed, or do you mean both?”
“Both,” Vaughn said. “I love Deidra. I don’t want our marriage to break up. But I also don’t want to spend the next 25 years feeling…meh.”
Deidra nodded. “There’s just no passion any more. Hasn’t been for a long time”
Maintaining passion in a long-term relationship can indeed be a challenge. Like many couples, New York City residents Deidra and Vaughn wanted to stay together but their romantic spark had dimmed long ago and they didn’t know how to reignite it—or whether that was even possible.
Passion and love are not emotions we can summon on command. We cannot simply “will” passion back into a relationship when it is absent, no matter how much we might want to do so. What we can do is trick our minds into reconnecting to such feelings.
Specifically, a couple can try to recapture and inhabit the mindset they had when they first fell in love with one another. Doing so could allow them to once again see their partner as they did in the past, which in turn should evoke the feelings they had at the time.
The best way to reconnect to these historical mindsets is for the couple to “go back in time” and re-enact their first date, or the date on which they first felt feelings of love, excitement and passion.
The key to successfully reenacting a date is to make every detail as accurate as possible. Deidra and Vaughn met in a bar in the late 1980s. Each was there with friends when they spotted each other. As Vaughn tells it, “’Alone’ by Heart was playing and I saw she was mouthing the words. So I mouthed them too. That made her smile so I went up to her and sang along with the line, ‘How do I get you alone?’”
“It cracked me up,” Deidre said. “We started chatting. We both completely forgot our friends. Then a slow song came on and we danced. I had my head on his shoulder. It was kind of magical.”
I asked if that bar was still around. It was not, but Vaughn knew of another one that had a similar vibe and décor. I suggested they contact the friends they were with that night, as well as the bar, and ask them to help with the reenactment. I also suggested they visit vintage clothing stores to get the right clothes, and that Deidra have her hair done in the 80s style she wore at the time. (Vaughn, alas, no longer had much hair.)
When recreating a first date, it is important to set things up so as to achieve the mindset you had before the date began. Deidre and Vaughn had each started out their evening at a friend’s house. Since those particular friends no longer lived in Manhattan, they substituted with two borrowed rooms which they decorated with photographs of themselves from the 80s and other memorabilia to make them look as much like the original locations as possible. Friends who were available and able to come helped reconstruct the conversations they might have had prior to going out that long ago night, as well as what they recalled of their interactions in the bar itself.
This kind of project can take quite a bit of planning and couples should try and have as much fun with it as possible—and document the process with pictures. It took Deidra and Vaughn five weeks to set up all the details and find a time to reenact their date that would work for their friends and the bar. During this process, their excitement about whether they would actually be able to pull it off only grew. By the time the night arrived, they were each nervous with excitement and anticipation.
By design, they did not see each other before the date and had no idea how successful the other would be at replicating their old looks.
“Seeing Deidra at the bar with her big hair and t-shirt with shoulder pads, made my heart beat really fast,” Vaughn said in a follow-up session. “When ‘Alone’ came on, I was almost as nervous as I had been that first time.”
“My friends did a great job of keeping the conversation going, so I had to keep sneaking peeks at Vaughn,” Deidra reported. “When he walked over and mouthed, ‘How do I get you alone?’ I was shocked by how much my heart was racing. And then we danced, I closed my eyes, and it was as if 25 years had melted away.”
“I leaned in for a kiss on the exact same song as I did the first time around,” Vaughn smiled.
Deidra looked at him and said, “We haven’t kissed like that in years.”
“Years,” Vaughn agreed.
“It was wonderful.” Deidra smiled.
Deidra and Vaughn’s faithful recreation of their first date catapulted them back through time and allowed them to recapture the mindsets and perspectives they had when they first met. But it wasn’t just the night of the reenactment that reconnected them to feelings of passion and love. The planning, communication, and effort, and the weeks they had spent remembering those early experiences, made their minds “ripe” for connecting to the feelings they had at the time, once the evening finally arrived.
Although it takes a lot of work, reenacting a time when a couple felt great love for each other is a great way to reignite the passion in a stale relationship.
But it is also very important to take steps to keep the passion burning once flame has been reignited.
Please Like The Squeaky Wheel Blog Facebook page(link is external) and post your stories about your first dates and how you might reenact them via comments. If you have any questions about how to do so, I will try to make suggestions for work-arounds.
For more quick fixes to emotional challenges, check out Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other Everyday Hurts(link is external) (Plume, 2014).