A recent study by researchers at Northwestern University (US) suggested that the level of love and satisfaction a married individual feels depends on how well both partners support and 'fulfill important responsibilities and obligations that come with marriage'.
But as the lives of spouses gets more complicated -- with careers, ambitions and family life weighing them down -- is there any place for romance? Just how well do they cope with keeping the romance alive?
Here, a few couples who've been married for a decade or longer share their tips on how to keep your marriage exciting.
Puja Khanna (37), CFO with a leading media firm in Delhi has been married to Sanjay (38), a doctor with a well-known hospital chain for 14 years. The two fell in love in their teens and married after a courtship of nine years.
"Those were the days," says Puja with nostalgia. Looking back at the early days of their courtship and marriage, Puja remembers fondly how Sanjay sneaked her out for a night ride on his elder brother's scooter.
"In the early years of our marriage we didn't have much money. But there was so much fun and romance in the relationship. Sharing one cup of hot steaming roadside tea, going for early morning walks in the parks of Delhi and so many little, tender moments!" she adds, "Now after two kids, stressful and busy careers and 14 years of marriage; romance seems to be the last thing on our minds. We communicate through SMSes, brief phone calls and post-it messages on the fridge. We are just too busy to look into each other's eyes and hold hands."
Shamita and Sourav Sen are 38 years old and have been married for 15 years. Parents to three kids -- one daughter and twin boys; Sourav works for a foreign bank while Shamita is a content writer-cum-home maker. She says, "Romance? What's that? Sourav and I were batch mates at college. Those romantic days of courtship are far away and long gone. It is not easy to be romantic with three kids. If we can get through dinner without one of them howling, that's a miracle; so don't even talk about candle-lit romantic dinners. Juggling my work, home and three kids isn't easy by any standards!"
Rachna and Sunil Arora (both 39) have been married for 16 years. They had an arranged marriage. Rachna reminisces, "Our early years of marriage seemed straight out of the movies. Sunil came home early and we would go watch a film. We packed food and went for impromptu picnics. Sunil had a bike that was always in terrible condition. Most of the time I had to push it! But it was so much fun. We both love the rains and would go out to our terrace and dance in the rain " Today they work together in their own HR firm and talk little about anything other than work. Sunil says, "Where is the time to dance in the rain? We have a business that needs to be stabilised. There are two children to take care of. Life is all about work, work and more work."
These couples are no exception. Ask any married couple who have been together for more than 10 years; romance isn't high on their list. In fact, in most cases it doesn't figure on the list at all. Careers, life's pressures, children, their upbringing and so many other things makes life routine and rushed, leaving little time for tender sweet nothings.
Psychologist and couple counsellor Sheetal Agarwal, says, "This is a common scenario with modern marriages. In the humdrum of daily life, romance is left far behind. It takes a toll on the marriage. This doesn't lead to divorce but the partners get into a comfort zone of co-existence. Quite like the railway tracks that run together in the same direction but always away from each other."
So what can one do to rekindle the flame of romance? Try these simple suggestions and enjoy the magic!
Old is gold
If both of you feel that the past years were beautiful, take a trip down the memory lane. Visit the city you lived in in the early years of your marriage. Go to the neighbourhood and if possible see the house. It is sure to bring back a flood of memories.
Sandeep and Krishna (40 and 36 respectively), now married for 14 years, went to Hyderabad to see the house they lived in. "That was the first house we set up after our marriage. It brought back so many wonderful memories that it overwhelmed us. While we felt happy that we have moved a long way from the small one-bedroom flat to a swank house in Mumbai; it also reminded us of how little time we spend with each other. We spent three days travelling through the city visiting all the spots we used to frequent. It was wonderful and certainly brought us closer."
Shamita and Sourav decided to take a walk down memory lane too. "We left the kids at home, took the local train to Dadar and went to the Irani restaurant where we used to eat often in the early years of our courtship and marriage. That place hadn't changed. It seemed to have frozen in time. The same dishes were still available. Though we both looked horribly out of place, it was fun to go there and talk of the good old days. Yes, the other young couples did glare at us but we couldn't care less. The place reminded us of the simple life we led and how much time we used to spend together."
Shamita adds, "I went to the building and saw the tiny flat we used to stay in. the flat has so many wonderful memories." Both of them take time out once every month to spend time without the kids.
Take a holiday
Go on a holiday sans the kids. With kids around couples get busy and have no time to focus on each other. If you can, go to an exotic place but any place would do as long as both of you want to be together.
Shalini and Vikas (42 and 38 respectively) live in Delhi and have been married for 15 years. They say in unison, "Since our son turned 10, we make it a point to take one holiday a year without him. It's just the two of us. We go away for 4-5 days while our son is with his grandparents. We do numerous family holidays in a year so while we are away without him we don't feel guilty."
Mita and Mohit Roy (40 and 38) live in London and recently went to Egypt for a week without their two kids. "My in-laws were visiting and I decided to take advantage of it. I surprised Mita with the trip. She was a little wary of leaving the children but it was great being just with each other."
Adds Sheetal, "It is critical that couples take a break and be with each other. The location isn't important. It could be a weekend getaway near the city. What is important is that they connect with each other and reconnect with their inner most feelings." Rachna and Sunil went to Goa last monsoon and danced in the rains on the beach. Their marriage seems young and alive again.
Make it a point to switch off your mobile during dinnertime. Spend some time with your spouse over dinner. Try to put kids into bed early so that the two of you can talk to each other. Sandeep and Krishna ensure that during dinnertime they aren't disturbed. "We put the mobiles on silent mode and switch on the answering machine. Our children are tucked into bed and have been told that this is mummy-daddy time. It isn't a long-drawn out meal; just about 30 minutes but we spend it with each other talking and listening."
Bring out the old memories
Fish out old, happy pictures from the album and hang them in pretty frames around the house. They will remind you of the wonderful times the two of you have spent together. Pictures with friends in college or after marriage, or others that remind you of the carefree past that you have left behind.
Surprise each other
It isn't mandatory for the man to always spring surprises. You can have flowers delivered to his office with a cute and naughty message. If the two of you communicate more through SMSes, it wouldn't hurt to send a naughty raunchy message once in a while. You are married after all! So the next time you need to send him a reminder to pick up the grocery, add a small note about how much you love him!
There are innumerable little things that you can do to bring back the fun and romance in your married life. All it needs is the will and desire to do it.
How do you keep the flame of love burning bright in your marriage? Have you and your spouse managed to create some 'us time' despite the pressures of careers, in-laws and kids? Share your anecdotes and suggestions by writing in to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll publish the best tips right here on rediff.com