Those of us who have been married a while (or even those who haven’t) know that the initial “spark” present in the beginning of most relationships tends to fade somewhat over the years. It is for this reason that couples need to make a conscious effort in keeping that spark alive.

Dr. John Gottman, America’s top marriage researcher, recommends that couples turn towards each other, even when they don’t feel like it. Friendship is the most important foundation to any successful marriage.

Over and above that, we at Mind and Body Counseling Associates, Reno, Nevada, have come up with some other things you could try to keep the spark alive in your marriage:

1. Beware of Routine

Part of being married for a while means falling into some sort of routine. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s important to remember to step out of that routine every now and then. Be sure to try something new together that you have been wanting to do for a while. Remember, complacency will put out the spark. “Research has shown that spontaneity is an important component to happy, long-term relationships,” explains Dr. Kat Van Kirk, resident relationship/sex expert at Adam & Eve and author of The Married Sex Solution: A Realistic Guide to Saving Your Sex Life.

2. Don’t Let Chores Rule Your Marriage

In the same vein, don’t allow the many chores that there always are to be done to become the focus of your life, and/or your marriage. Try to mix it up every now and then, or simply forget about the chores for one day and go on an adventure with your spouse!

3. Get Rid of the Tech

Be sure to spend time with your loved one, distraction-free. That means turning off the TV, or computer, and putting your cell phone away. Be fully present with them, listening and talking. Even better, eat dinner together (not in front of the TV) and catch up on the day’s events. Or get nostalgic and take a trip down memory lane to recount how you two met. It’s important to stay connected with your spouse, and talking regularly will achieve that.

4. Put Effort into Your Appearance

Whether it’s a new hairstyle, or some new clothes, aiming to look your best will not only help keep your partner physically attracted to you, but you’ll also feel more confident. “Making an effort to spruce up your appearance on a regular basis can help you get in the mood and shows that you care about and value yourself,” says Dr. Kat.

5. Kiss, Touch, and Kiss Again

Along with the ‘beginning-of-relationships-spark’, the act of constantly touching each other seems to die down in long-term relationships too. Yet, the power of touch should not be underestimated in its ability to keep the two of you connected. Also, kissing can be even more intimate than sex, so be sure to prioritise this too.

6. Have More Sex

You knew this was going to pop up on the list at some stage. The fact of the matter is, maintaining a healthy and frequent sex life is part of what keeps the spark alive. According to Dr. Kat, “having sex on a regular basis will balance your hormones so you’ll want sex more. Sex begets sex.” Also, focus on the foreplay and try to be more adventurous in your sex life.

7. Put Your Spouse First

This is a big one, especially when the kids arrive. However, it could not be more important – for your marriage and your kids – to prioritise your spouse above all else. Say hello to your spouse first when walking through the door and show them how much you appreciate them through little gestures here and there. “Being thoughtful and compassionate towards your partner shows that you’re paying attention to their desires,” says Dr. Kat. “This translates well to the bedroom and models the way you may want to be treated”.