Ahead of Valentine’s Day, new research from Groupon has revealed that British couples ‘lose the love’ after four years together, with the average spend on Valentine’s Day nearly halving between couples first and fifth year together (from £105 to £62) .
In a bid to bring the romance back, Groupon has teamed up with author and relationship expert, Tracey Cox, who has provided her top relationship tips for 2017.
From year one to year sixty, Tracey offers advice on how to the keep the love alive. Her tips include spending quality time together and experiencing new things that will push you both out of your comfort zones.
If it’s going well, you’re smack bang in the middle of the honeymoon period, so relax and enjoy while it lasts! Something sensuous like a spa experience for two would work well as a Valentine’s gift. At this stage, it’s all about physical closeness and talking about how amazing it is that you’ve found each other. Where better to do that, than in a hot tub or totally relaxed after a massage for two?
Tickets to a show or event a few months away is also a great present: it shows you’ve got faith in the future (and will unearth a commitment-phobe in a flash! Far better to find that out sooner than later!)
It’s around now that the relationship moves into a more ‘serious’ stage: you might move in together or make some sort of commitment to do so soon. Beware of what happens next: relationships naturally move from fun to functional. You stop planning special things to do and spend more time on the routine of everyday life. Couples can start to feel disconnected and like they’re fallen out of love. You haven’t. If all you do together is boring, mundane things, you start to think of your partner as boring and mundane. Same as when you did fun things together, you thought of each other as fun. It’s not relationship rocket science – it’s common sense.
Keep the fun side going by choosing an experience that’s indulgent and romantic or fun and playful: a helicopter flight with champagne in hand or tickets to a comedy club.
This is the comfort and cuddles stage of a relationship. The sexy, supercharged brain hormones slow from a flood to a trickle and fuzzy, bonding chemicals like oxytocin move in. Affection and love take over from lust and excitement. Inject a little much-needed adrenaline into your relationship and stop cosiness turning into boredom by capitalizing on the ‘roller coaster effect’.
Research shows exciting and dangerous situations can boost levels of hormones responsible for making people fall in love at first sight. Book something that will push both of you out of your comfort zones: a climbing experience or tandem skydive will do the trick nicely
The fourth or fifth year is when many couples in their thirties start thinking about having children. It’s a romantic time but also stressful with worries over either getting pregnant or coping once you are! Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to spend quality time together. Opt for something luxurious and pampering like a five-star country retreat or weekend away in a posh hotel.
Research suggests lack of time together is one of the top three things couples struggle with in the first five years of marriage. (Sex and money are the others.) So if you are married, this might be when the second children arrives on the scene which can amplify this and any other problem you might be struggling with tenfold. Nothing stresses a relationship more than children do. Forget the romanticized view of the two of you gazing down at an angelic, sleeping child: you’re more likely to be arguing over whose turn it is to check on the baby at a bleary 2am. What do both of you most want during this time? Sleep, peace and a break from the daily grind. Opt for a spa day for her or something he can enjoy with his mates (a day driving a sports car around a track or paint-balling), then add a ‘together’ present like a champagne or wine tasting.
Again, anything that’s novel and new will be hugely appreciated around now. Think outside the square and be inventive: a shooting day brings out your playful sides, encouraging a little flirtatious competitiveness. Or commit to a course together for something you’ve never done but both fancy, like learning a new sport. Even better, get the passion back with a sexy photoshoot, where you’re both styled to look sensational – and have evidence of how great you both looked.
There is no such thing as the ‘seven-year itch’ – the concept that people were tempted to cheat after seven years of marriage came from the film of the same name starring Marilyn Monroe. But it is a time when couples with children are most bogged down in the pressures of raising them - and highly irritable as a result. A ‘surprise’ present is what you both need: something to lift you out of every day and transport you back to a time when you did special things together. Take charge and plan a surprise day. Tell them what they need to bring/and or wear and that’s it. It might be you whisk them off for a fabulous mini-break to a romantic European destination or plan a city treat of cocktails in a sexy bar and a three-course dinner in a decadent hotel.
One decade together is a hugely important milestone. Not the time to think, ‘She/he knows I love them – as if I’d stick around ten years if I didn’t!’ Instead, pull out all the stops. Revisit where you met, fell in love and cemented your relationship. Spend time finding exactly the right words to put on a card. Think what is my partner’s dream? If she really wants to open her own restaurant, signing up for some cookery classes is going to mean more than an extravagant meal out. He’d secretly love to write a novel? A writing course is going to mean a lot more than buying him the latest bestseller.
If your relationship is good – and maybe any kids have flown the nest - there’s more excitement about a fresh chance to focus a new on each other. You’re less worried about what people think so up for trying things that you might never have considered. Great gift ideas would be scuba diving somewhere exotic or heading off to Amsterdam to gawp in the windows of the red light district. Book into a mansion high in the hills of Scotland or rug up for Iceland to marvel at the Northern Lights.
It’s an apt reward that couples who manage to negotiate all the hazards of long-term love get to once more experience the heady, intense emotions that started them out on the relationship rollercoaster. Except this time, the rush of all-consuming tenderness and togetherness is created by a lifetime of memories rather than the promise of one. Research also suggests plenty of people 70-plus rate their sex lives as ‘very satisfying’. Go for a hedonistic gift like a culinary experience in a famous foodie restaurant along with a weekend in a wonderful hotel where you can rediscover each other.
This is a time for collecting memories: find a photograph from each of the ten best moments spent together and frame them. Make a CD with songs from the year you met. Splash out on what’s top of the bucket list with no expense spared! Seen all the seven wonders of the world? If not, off you go. Always fancied yourself as a photographer? Book a course. What are you waiting for?