A recent study showed that hard economic times coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic aftereffects have had a strain on many relationships, especially marriages, as couples struggle to cope with the new normal. The past two-plus years have been tumultuous especially for relationships as cases of depression, anger and anxiety became commonplace. Other issues like increased gadget use and people looking for multiple lovers to fill the emotional void, also became common. The study also showed that intimacy between couples got strained by the aforementioned challenges and denial set in. People just co-exist but are not emotionally there for each other. Many marriages and relationships are stuck in survival mode. However, with a little bit of effort, things can get back to normal, and bring back the fire in your relationship. Here’s how: Do fun things together In a recent article by psychologist Sarah Whitton of Cincinnati University in the U.S, she said that there is a theory that the reason couples divorce or grow dissatisfied with each other is because the sense of joy, passion and overall positivity wanes with time. However, when a couple focuses on doing fun things together, those things can be sustained. Experts say physical attraction and hormones aren’t the only reasons relationships are exciting in the early days. When couples are dating or starting out in marriage, they tend to do fun things together and the intimacy thrives. With time, however, they begin taking things for granted and then the closeness starts to disappear. Sometimes it is not intentional or because you are bored. You might even be unaware that it is happening. Look back and see when you last did something fun together and enjoyed it and compare with what you used to do in the past. Is it enough to keep the fire burning? If not, then work on it. Share responsibilities When the pandemic kept us in our homes for months and months, it became very apparent that we can all be home at the same time and have no excuse of running somewhere for a meeting. It also meant that we share domestic work. It also became easy to tell who is not contributing much on chores at home and we learnt that we can share responsibilities, rather than one person bearing the burden. Experts say that couples who shared responsibilities including child care, taking out the garbage, washing utensils and cooking, among other things, thrived better than couples where a man sits back and waits to be served as he watches his favourite football team. Sharing responsibilities applies to everyone including children if they are old enough. The bond it creates adds a spark to your relationship. Talk about sex For couples that have been together for long, sometimes the subject of sex becomes taboo. In fact, some couples can go even months without getting intimate sexually, let alone talking about sex. They leave it to nature. When it happens, well and good, when it doesn’t, they sleep. Experts say this is a major red flag for a relationship because once you become sexually inactive, chances are the affair will go cold, yet we all know at some point we have sexual needs that must be met. If your partner is not bothered, they are probably getting it from somewhere else. Revisit your sex life. Talk about it. Is it enjoyable? Are we really sexually happy? If not, what is the cause? What do we need to do to improve it? Couples that have stayed together for long tend to focus on the negatives when it comes to sex. Dr Tammy Nelson, a sex therapist and author of books on relationships says that ‘you don’t change your sex life by saying, ‘I hate it when you go to the left.’ You say, ‘I love it when you go to the right.’ Hurtful comments during sex can really kill it for couples. Focus on things that will improve your sex life as a couple and be a little adventurous. It will keep the fire burning. Be faithful This sounds like the most obvious thing to say but it is easier said than done. Being faithful is a continuous effort. Every day we meet people who distract us. There is that workmate who is attracted to you, the muscular trainer at the gym, the hot girl you met at the bar. The temptations are always around the corner. Couples in a long-term relationship face a major test of remaining committed to each other, especially if the intimacy has waned. Straying or infidelity can easily take out the fire in a relationship especially when the ‘side person’ or as they say in Swahili, ‘mpango wa kando’ is sexually and emotionally involved with your significant other. The best way to keep the fire burning is to remain faithful to each other and brush off any temptations to cheat on your partner. In a long-term relationship, it is easy to tell when your partner is not there or is seeing someone else. So, simply avoid it and your relationship will blossom forever.