‘A simmer not a spark.’ 6 ways to save a relationship that's gone stale.

If you’re in (or have ever been in) a long-term relationship, you’ll be well aware that sometimes things can turn… eh, a little stale, for lack of a better word. 

It’s not that you don’t love each other anymore (or maybe it is, but that’s a whole different story), but that passion that once set your relationship on fire has faded to a faintly glowing pile of embers. 

Or maybe it’s already a pile of ashes. 

But even if that’s the case, you can get things blazing again, life coach, relationships expert and certified family lawyer Cassandra Kalpaxis tells Mamamia.

The first thing you need to know is that a cooling off of the passion in a long-term relationship is so incredibly normal. 

There’s nothing wrong with you if your lust is feeling a little lacklustre when you’re eyeballs-deep in your coupledom – and these feelings alone definitely do not mean you have to give up on your relationship.

Listen to Sealed Section, as the hosts talk about a common issue among couples. Post continues below.

“Almost all marriages go through a period where they experience being stale,” explains Cassandra, who hosts retreats to help couples reignite the romance.

“I am yet to meet a couple who have never experienced some form of strain at any stage during their relationship. That is why relationships take work.”

Why relationships change.

There are so many factors at play when it comes to how relationships shift over time, says Cassandra. “For some, the communication becomes difficult. For others, intimacy – whether physical or not – gets put on the back burner.


"We are so busy these days. Gone are the days when people would sit around and prioritise their connection and relationships.”

Firstly, many of us simply aren’t prioritising our romantic relationships – and how can we, with so much on our plates day to day? But with so much mental load to carry, time with our partners ends up being put on the backburner. 

“We are spending more time apart these days, whether physically or emotionally,” says Cassandra. “These days, we see connection as sitting across from each other on the lounge scrolling our phones and sending each other memes, or watching TV together. But that is not connection. Instead, have a technology-free night where you actually talk and do things together that don’t require the phone.”


Everyday stressors aren’t helping things in the relationship stakes, either. Like? That pesky little (read: not little at all) cost-of-living crisis that’s got everyone living in a heightened state of ‘what the f**k?’ 24/7.

“Living in Australia is costly,” Cassandra says. “We are working to make ends meet, pay bills, buy things. We are working longer hours than ever before. For many, they are at home with the children all day on their own, raising a family. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and detached.

“It becomes equally as difficult to give the best version of yourself when you are tired to your partner.”

So… we know the problem. What’s the fix? Rather than chasing a spark, it seems, it’s about keeping things rolling along at a simmer. 

“Having a commitment to prioritising connection in your relationship is paramount to its success.”

6 tips to save a stale relationship.

1. “Having transparent conversations with your partner without fear of retribution of the conversation being used against you is so important,” suggests Cassandra. “You need to regularly make time to discuss what is working in the marriage and what isn’t. What do you want more of? What is annoying you?” 


Also, it’s worth reminding yourself that we are all human, with different needs and different love languages. 

“When raising children, working, paying bills, it becomes really easy to fall into a pattern of prioritising the mundane instead of the relationship. It is important to understand how your partner and yourself express and receive love and what they need to feel prioritised.”

Watch: Mia Freedman talks about the five love languages. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

2. Making time to have fun again is vital when you feel like you are living with a stranger, Cassandra explains, so take the pressure off for a while to be completely carefree together. “Do something that doesn’t require anything other than fun, and learn to enjoy each other’s company again. Avoid anything that could trigger an argument here, such as stimulants like alcohol, which may have an adverse impact.”

3. If you’re struggling with conversation, fake it till you make it. “Having experienced what it was like to be in an estranged marriage when communication becomes tough, it’s important to start small,” advises Cassandra. “Talk about topics that don’t spark conflict and work your way up from there. Make time to talk every day without exception, even if it's just for 30 mins at a time, and increase from there.”


4. This one’s a biggie: remember that intimacy means more than just sex. “A stale marriage can often be improved with intimacy – and no that does not just mean sex,” Cassandra says. “Try spending time just sitting with your partner holding hands and then staring into each other’s eyes without looking away for small increments, and building up to longer periods.”

5. Start scheduling in date night – and no, this is not an optional extra! “Date night is mandatory,” says Cassandra, and can be particularly useful for parents. “Having a non-negotiable date night inbuilt into both parties' schedules will mean you get time just be individuals and not parents. Discussions should then be centred around the relationship and their goals and dreams outside of the usual conversation.” Make sure you mix it up, too – not just a schnitty at the local pub every Tuesday. “Varying date night is also critical in bringing back the spice of a relationship.”

6. Ultimately, says Cassandra, bringing your love life back to the boil must be a job for both partners. “Both parties must be committed to doing the work,” she says. “If one party is doing all the work, then it will become apparent and resentment will quickly creep in.”

Alix Nicholson is Mamamia's Managing Editor. To read more of her work, click here, or follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Getty.

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