You may have committed to grow old together “till death do us part” – but it’s easy to lose the spark in a long-term relationship as the years roll on.

Perhaps you’re getting tired, or you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, or you’re not as attracted to your partner as you thought you were – but you don’t need to throw in the towel yet, because there are still ways to rekindle what you once had.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, we have five tips from American sexologist Dr Pepper Schwartz, Love & Relationship Expert & Ambassador for AARP, on how to keep the home fires burning.

  1. Don’t assume everything will stay the same. People will grow and change over the course of a relationship, and you both need to recognise that and keep pace with the person your partner is right now, and the person they might be in future.

    “The most successful couples really take note of each other’s changes. They do not assume their partner is the same person he or she was 20 years ago, even if there are many similarities. What’s more, they take the time to learn their partner’s goals, dreams and future plans,” Dr Schwartz writes.

  2. Argue respectfully. You’d be hard-pressed to find a couple that doesn’t argue occasionally – but it’s important to work out your disagreements without going below the belt. According to Dr Schwartz, winning or getting your way isn’t where power in a mature relationship really comes from.

    “True power comes from knowing how to discuss differences fully and honestly. If you demean your partner when you disagree, and if, at the end of an argument, you do not feel stronger and more intimate than you did before you started — you are not building a stronger, more loving relationship,” she says.

  3. Look for new ways to have fun. Of course, you don’t have to open an inn or join an overseas volunteering program like she suggests – consider taking a creative class together, or holidaying in a new spot, or taking up a joint hobby.

    “All the research on marital satisfaction shows that couples bond more closely when they do new, innovative activities – instead of getting stuck in the same rut they’ve been in for the past 25 years,” Dr Schwartz writes. 

  4. Face the challenges of growing old together. As you age, come to terms with your and your partner’s vulnerability and mortality, and be ready to take care of one another if and when you need it. Each of you should trust that the other will be there for them, whatever life throws at you.

    “The mature partners who face the future as true collaborators and helpmates forge an amazing relationship,” says Dr Schwartz.

  5. Keep in touch with your physical needs. Don’t be afraid to display affection to your partner – not just through sex, but by touching, hugging, kissing, and other forms of physical intimacy. According to Dr Schwartz, it’s a vital part of maintaining a strong and healthy connection as the years go by.

    “Granted, things change: Illness, medication and life crises might get in the way of the kind of passionate romance you had 40 years ago. But the happiest couples are those who have found a way to combat the physical and emotional obstacles and maintain a physically satisfying and sensual relationship,” she says.