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When the stars aligned and the two of you first got together, romance was in the air. Fireworks exploded, birds sang, flowers bloomed. But sooner or later, "real life" intervenes. Suddenly, it's hard work to keep the mundane -- job woes, money troubles, arguments over who's turn it is to take out the trash -- from dousing the flames of your passion. Want to ratchet up the romance in your relationship? Try these creative yet doable ideas for dates and more.
1. Wake him gently. Spare him from being jolted awake by a harsh alarm. Instead, help him get up on the right side of the bed with a glass of fresh-squeezed juice and a smooch.
2. Kill the lights. Eat dinner by candlelight, even if the meal is just a pizza or take-out Chinese. The gentle flickering works wonders to tame tension, and hopefully spark something else...
3. Think skivvies. Splurge on spiffy new underwear for you and him, even if neither of you technically "need" any right now. You'll both feel pampered, and share a frisky little secret.
4. Be a class act. Enroll the two of you in a day or weekend course to discover hidden talents or just have fun, suggests Michael Webb, founder of TheRomantic.com. Do your best to make sure it's something the both of you will enjoy, not just you; if your sweetie avoids the kitchen at all costs, pass on Intro to French Cuisine.
5. Stockpile bubbly. Always have a bottle of champagne on hand so you can celebrate anything (or nothing!) at the drop of a hat, advises Jennifer Good, creator of Lovingyou.com.
6. Trip the light fantastic. To wash away the weariness of a long day, cue up a recording of your wedding song (or a tune you both love, if you've not done the aisle walk) and dance close for the duration.
7. Plan a blast from the past. "If you live near to where your guy grew up, plan a memory tour," offers Webb. Contact his parents, siblings or old friends and inquire about his old haunts; favorite pizza place, the school track where he won an event. Create a date around these locales and ask him to recall happy memories.
8. Work on your sex life. Experts estimate that one in three couples is mismatched when it comes to sexual desire. If this is the case in your relationship, talk candidly to your mate about what you can do to improve the situation. The expert advice in a book such as The Sex Starved Marriage: A Couple's Guide to Boosting Their Marriage Libido by marriage therapist Michele Weiner Davis can help you get started.
9. Create a calendar. Have a bunch of meaningful photos turned into a unique calendar at a copy shop, says Webb. (There's no law that says calendars have to start in January.) To really make this fly, help him out by noting key dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
10. Plan for wonderful weekends. Clear up both of your usual Saturday to-do lists by Friday evening. It may cramp your weeknights a bit, but a whole chore-free day will make the effort worthwhile.
11. Make dinnertime pleasant. Compile menus from local restaurants that deliver, and stash them in a folder, says Good. On nights when you're both beat, you can still enjoy a lovely meal and each other's company, with no work.
12. Dress the part. Borrow something of his to wear. There's just something about finding you enveloped in his robe, PJ top, or button-down that your guy finds charming and irresistible.
13. Hide the remote. It's probably ill-advised to try to declare a TV-free night if there's a big game on. But if you're both listlessly crashed out watching reruns, turn the boob tube off and instead concentrate on each other.