Relationships always seem perfect when they’re still new.
Your partner’s quirks? Adorable.
The challenges in your relationship? Exciting.
But sooner or later—usually by your 2nd anniversary—the honeymoon phase will end and you’ll have to confront your many little differences and peeves.
By that time, you can’t rely on your dwindling love hormones. You need to DO work if you want your relationship to work!
Here are 15 easy ways to stay in love (even when the honeymoon phase is over).
1) Dedicate an hour a day for quality time
We have so many deadlines and goals and personal hobbies… and sometimes we end up forgetting to spend QUALITY time with our partner.
This is the number one killer in most relationships.
So dedicate an hour each day for quality time.
For me, mornings are the best time to be extra affectionate with my partner. We wake up slowly, meditate, and prepare a good breakfast together.
But if you’re both usually groggy in the morning, then maybe you can do it at night. Make it a habit to go to bed earlier so you can talk and cuddle.
The important thing is that you try to establish a routine that prioritizes quality time between you and your partner, and that you put in the effort to stick to it.
2) Appreciate each other regularly
It doesn’t matter how much you love them now—if you don’t take the time to think about and express your appreciation for them, you’ll start taking things for granted.
And here’s the hard part: The enemy of love is not hate, but apathy.
Once you start taking your partner for granted, your love will slowly disappear to apathy.
So go! Express your love for your partner.
A simple “Your onion soup is the best!” or “Wow, you look so sexy in that dress” goes a long way in making each other feel loved.
3) Try new stuff together
Novelty is the spice of life, and life would quickly get boring if we simply keep doing the same things day in and day out.
A healthy relationship is one that allows you the freedom to seek new experiences—and a good partner would enjoy sharing those experiences with you.
There’s a new restaurant in town? A new brand of coffee shop? A new game? A new dish?
Explore all of them with your partner! Just keep in mind that if they clearly don’t want to do something, then you shouldn’t force them. Do something BOTH of you would like to do.
4) Talk over things—even when it’s uncomfortable
How should you share your bills and chores?
What are your plans for the future? Have they said something that upset you? What are your personal beliefs?
All of these are things that you need to properly communicate with one another.
It might be tempting to ignore “uncomfortable topics” and sweep them under the rug, but if you keep doing that your pent up discomfort will eventually explode in your face.
So talk. Try to find the time and opportunity to talk about these topics at leisure and try to sort your differences out.
What I love about travel, aside from the experience itself, is that it makes you look forward to something.
According to a study, just anticipating your trip can make you happier than actually taking it!
You might want to make the most out of this effect.
You can try booking a trip two or three months in advance. You’ll both be giddy for a long time as you daydream about the Bahamas or Peru.
6) Plan the future
Do you have a vision of your life together?
Now that the honeymoon phase is over, it’s probably time to talk about it. After all, it’s the time both of you can think more clearly.
You don’t have to talk about marriage straight away.
But do discuss things like where you want to settle down, how many kids you want to have, what your ideal weekend looks like 20 years from now.
7) Have a life outside your relationship
The most annoying, unhappy couples I know of are those who are way too obsessed with their partners that they basically don’t have any life outside the relationship.
The most successful couples, on the other hand, are those who are more than willing to do things separately.
They keep in touch with friends, they have their own hobbies, and they even go on weeklong vacations without their partner.
There’s a meme that says “How can I miss you if you’re always here?”
So enough with being too clingy. Don’t just wait for them to come home so you can have a life.
8) Have romantic dates often
Don’t stop dating each other. Even if you have deadlines, even if you have kids, even if you have some kind of illness.
If you can’t do it weekly, do it monthly. But please—find some time to do it.
It’s a small moment in your busy life where you can stop thinking about other things and just focus on your partner.
To make it extra special, you can meet directly in the restaurant instead of leaving together from your apartment. It recreates the thrill you felt when you first started dating.
9) Spice up your sex life
Sex is a massive factor in most relationships.
Except for those few relationships between people who don’t care about sex, sexual intimacy is generally something that helps bind relationships together.
Your sex life starts out exciting as all hell when your relationship is still riding the high of your honeymoon phase.
But when that honeymoon phase ends, you need to actually put in the effort.
Understand their kinks, try cute lingeries, do it wherever!
You cannot talk about having children and growing old together if you can’t even satisfy each other in the bedroom.
So don’t set aside sex for something “more important”. It is very important for most relationships. So give it the attention it deserves.
10) Come up with fun traditions
We all know about celebrating traditions like anniversaries, graduations, and christmases. I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about FUN traditions.
Perhaps you want to exchange stupid gifts during Christmas. Perhaps you want to cook for each other on your anniversaries.
It isn’t even limited to just the two of you. Perhaps you want to give silly gifts to your friends and families.
Traditions create an identity— a feeling of “We’re this kind of couple!”—and this can help you stay in love for a very long time.
11) Go on group dates
While going on a date with your partner provides intimacy, sometimes it can get repetitive. Sometimes it can even start to feel boring.
So instead of just the two of you, it’s a good idea to go on group dates. Or to just hang out with your other friends.
This way, you’d double the fun, which is a must if you want to be with your partner for the long haul.
12) Start a hobby together
While I do encourage having separate hobbies, it’s also a good idea to have hobbies you both share.
It makes you feel like you’re a team, which is important to feel if you’re already way past the honeymoon phase.
It doesn’t have to be huge like skiing or hunting. It can be as simple as doing painting by numbers.
Me and my partner have been together for almost four years, and there are some days that all I really look forward to is us solving word puzzles in bed.
13) Have a cat
Or a fish, or a turtle…whatever pet you like!
You don’t even have to buy a real one, just a virtual one like Tamagochi would still do a lot in making your bond stronger.
Not only does it add more happiness to your life, it also solidifies you as a team.
Because you’re no longer just responsible for yourselves, some creatures actually depend on you!
14) Surprise each other
Once the honeymoon phase is over, life becomes more settled (read: monotonous).
That’s why it’s very important to shake things up a bit if you want to stay in love. And what better way to do that than to surprise your partner often.
You can surprise them in a million ways!
Perhaps you can send them flowers at work if you never did it before, or you can surprise them with a concert ticket of their favorite band.
This will make your relationship more fun. And when it’s fun, it can make love grow stronger.
15) Give each other two-minute hugs daily
They say “We need four hugs a day to survive”, and there might be some truth to that.
Hugging releases oxytocin that makes us feel more relaxed and happy. And if you’re hugging your partner, it makes you feel connected and in love.
So hug as often as possible, as long as possible.
While most recommend 20-second hugs, I recommend two-minute hugs.
My partner and I have been doing it for a while now and it really melts all the tension and increases the feeling of being in love—pretty much takes us back to the honeymoon phase.
Once the honeymoon phase is over, we can’t help but wonder “Do I really love them?” and “Should we continue or break up?”
Every couple in long-term relationships ask these questions once the love hormones are gone.
But hey, here you are. You’re reading this article, and that just means that you DO love your partner, don’t you think?
You’re willing to make your relationship work!
If you do all of the things in this list, trust me—you’ll be honeymooners for life.