Farah and Fariq were like two roses standing tall together in a vase full of crystal-clear water,” explains Julie New, author of Who Are The Flowers In Your Garden? “Then what happened? Their daughter came along. Farah set up her business and Fariq’s career became important. They had challenges and bereavements and the focus went away from them as a couple. The water in their vase started to evaporate and the petals of the roses started to fall off.
“They have grown as people and hopefully gone from being cut roses in a vase to something much more sustainable. However, every plant needs nurturing. We all need the right nutrients so we can grow and flourish again.”
Julie, who is known as The Relationship Gardener, recommends couples start by taking the time to talk – just going out for a meal together or borrowing a dog and going for a walk can create some talking space.
“We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that proportion,” says Julie. “Talk about your needs and what you like or want. Often, our spouses get it wrong. They may bring us flowers when all we want is a cuddle, or they may organise a big night out when all we really want is a quiet cosy evening at home together. We’re not mind-readers – we all need some pointers, no matter how well we think we know someone.”
Psychological therapist and clinical hypnotherapist Lesley Broadhead agrees. She says relationships go through different phases – the perfect phase when we’ve just met and we look at our partner through rose-tinted spectacles lasts about four months and turns into the imperfect phase when we start to see their flaws and decide whether to accept them. This stage is followed by a time when we state what we want from the relationship, then there’s commitment and finally there’s a long-term phase. Like most married couples, Fariq and Farah are now in the long-term phase of their relationship, but, according to Lesley, they don’t have to rule out romance. She says that to re-ignite a long-standing marriage, we need to understand the difference between masculine and feminine energy – and use some time-old tactics.
Learn to leave space
“We’re basically still animals and we’re still running with cave man functions most of the time,” explains Lesley. “Traditionally, masculine energy is about giving, hunting and preying. Men like to chase. Masculine energy is about thinking. In a work situation everyone has masculine energy – we wear suits and we’re efficient and competitive. Feminine energy is the opposite – it’s about feelings.
“Time and time again, we see women making the big mistake of being constantly available for him. Even within a marriage, men need to feel they’re the hunters and they need to win their wives’ attention.
“When he appears to back off, she goes forward in pursuit of him and does as much to please him as she can. My advice to any woman is, leave space for a man to step into. This applies to any relationship between a man and a woman, no matter how long they’ve known each other.
“If a woman is unhappy about something, she can simply state, ‘I feel unhappy’. Then she remains quiet and either walks away or keeps a distance. This will often shock the man into listening or trying to problem solve. Even better, she could step out of the home for a short walk or do something nice for herself like go for a swim.
“But if she is in his face, shouting at him about what’s wrong in her life, blaming him, accusing him, and lecturing him – using masculine energy – he will back off even more. If she embarks upon long explanations, he will zone out.”
Both Julie and Lesley agree that to get romance back into your life, you need to work on yourself.
“All men love a woman who is confident and self-assured,” says Lesley. “They lose interest when a woman becomes needy. Women can look at ways of increasing their confidence. I advise them to go to evening classes, get out more and not to be constantly available.
“Make yourself into a prize by taking care of yourself. Get out there with your head help high and make him come to you.
“Using positive reinforcement is the best way to get what we want and far more effective than plain old nagging. Instead of saying, ‘You never bring me flowers’, or ‘You’re not very attentive’, try saying, ‘I really like it when you bring me roses’, or ‘I love it when you really listen to me.’”
Dealing with distance
But what if there is no common ground and over the years, you really have put quite an emotional distance between you?
Julie recommends a shine and sparkle evening, where the man makes a shine board and his partner designs a sparkle board. These are vision boards where couples paste pictures and words that sum up their loves, hopes and desires. This is one of the fastest ways to connect and discover each other’s passions.
“Look through magazines together,” says Julie, “and cut out pictures of things you love or words that catch your attention, and then stick them onto a board. Look at the things your partner has chosen and talk about them.
“You may also discover things about yourself. You may find you really sparkle when you’re running or that you’re in your element walking your dog. Connecting with yourself is vital so go to workshops, read self-development books and focus on what you love – by doing that you will be making yourself much more attractive.”
Add fun to your relationship
- Spend an evening looking at your sparkle and shine boards and talk through each of the pictures or words you put on there, says Julie. “It may be that your partner has always fancied taking up running and he may have cut out a photograph of a man competing in marathons. Encourage him to take up running.”
- When you feel anxious about your relationship, take a step back and simply breathe. Getting some good oxygen into your body calms you and when you’re less anxious, you’ll see things differently. Solutions will pop into your mind when you’re relaxed, says Julie.
- Play the ‘favourites game’, says coach Fiona Sutherland. Take turns naming a favourite movie, restaurant, party, book, adventure or musical instrument. It not only helps you feel good and recall happy memories, it helps you both connect to your values.
- Have a night somewhere different – camp in your garden and pretend you’re in the mountains, or go to a hotel and pretend to be aristocrats.
- Change things in your environment. Move furniture around, add some fresh flowers, or burn some candles
Re-ignite romance with tips on positive thinking
1. Work out what you want from your partner. We get what we think about, so when we say we don’t want a cruel man, we’re likely to get one because that’s what we’re thinking about. When we think about a kind, considerate person, we’re far more likely to attract one.
2. Change the way you speak to your partner. Men, especially, need the difference between a command and a statement to be spelt out. A wishy washy “Can you tidy the kitchen?” leaves a man thinking that he can, but he won’t until he can be bothered. Ask him to do the washing up within a certain timescale – for example, before he settles down to watch TV – and he probably will.
3. Look in a mirror and imagine yourself in a room of strangers and give yourself a mark out of ten. Next, think of someone you find attractive and step into her body. Picture yourself in the room this person and give yourself a new mark – it will be higher now you have borrowed some confidence! Information courtesy of neurolinguistic programming expert Matt Hudson, author of The Saboteur Within.