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5 ways to put the spark back in your relationship

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All nurses know they need to create a good work/life balance. But that term is a little misleading. It makes it sound like there should be an even split between the two. The word “life” really covers a lot of territory.

For many of us, life is further split among non-work responsibilities, childcare, hobbies (if we’re lucky), sleep (if we’re really lucky) and a spouse or significant other. Too often, that special person in our life is getting a very small slice of our time “pie.” When that happens over a long period, a romantic relationship that used to be hotter than an autoclave becomes colder than a morgue. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we think it’s high time to rekindle the flame. Here are five ways to do just that.

1. Share a secret that you’ve never told anyone before.
It can be something silly, something embarrassing, something that hurt you in the past, something that excites you or a dream you have for the future (perhaps a big goal in your nursing career that seems impossible right now). Be open to listening without judgment if your lover feels like sharing a confidence in return. Taking a small step toward greater authenticity and trust is a wonderful way to build intimacy. It brings to mind those first weeks and months of a new relationship when you couldn’t wait to learn absolutely everything about each other.

2. Change the conversation the next time you feel like criticizing.
You know that thing your spouse has been doing for the last 20 years that bugs the crap out of you? Just like telling patients that they should lose weight and stop smoking usually doesn’t have much of an impact until they really want to change, your spouse isn’t going to change because you doggedly point out his flaws one more time. That battle will still be there later if you really want to take it up again. For now, give yourself a breather and think of something unexpectedly nice to say instead. You might be surprised by how relaxed this makes you both feel. It’s almost as good as a foot massage.

3. Ask for a favor—even if you don’t absolutely need to.
As a nurse, it’s easy to get used to taking on too much. It’s often expected or even demanded of you at your job. But you don’t have to be superwoman in your personal relationships. Being vulnerable is a wonderful way to let your significant other know how important they are in your life. Sometimes, that means asking for what you want as well as asking for what you need. So, ask your loved one to do a specific task for you—maybe something that’s usually on your side of the chores list or anything that gives you an extra hour to spend pampering yourself. Then, be sure to show your appreciation with a smile, a warm hug and a lingering kiss.

4. Laugh together until you cry.
Do you share a love for old goofy movie classics like The Cable Guy, Spaceballs or Ghostbusters? Is Googling LOLcats more your speed? Do you get a kick out of watching America’s Funniest Home Videos (even though, as a nurse, you cringe at the damage being done to testicles across the nation)? Spend some time enjoying whatever you and your loved one both find hysterical. Laughter helps release any tension that may have built up between you. Once you’re both smiling and in a good mood, it’s time to move on to the most fun you’ve ever had without laughing (bonus points if you get the Woody Allen reference).

5. Forget about “life” so you can focus on living.
You’ve probably never met a patient who lay dying in the hospital bemoaning how little time they spent working or doing chores. At work, you are a nurse—and the stress of the job often follows you home, where you don half a dozen more hats to juggle your other responsibilities. But if you want to really open up space for more romance, you need to let go of all these roles you play (unless role playing is a turn-on for you). When you want to liven things up in your love life, you need to be fully focused on the moment. Leave work at work. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink and the pile of laundry on the floor. Leave your cell phone turned off, e-mails unanswered and Facebook unattended. If you wait until everything else is finished before you tend to the garden of romance, the bloom will definitely be off the rose before you make it to the bedroom.

Finally, read our nurse’s guide to romance. Seriously, it’s like 50 shades of scrubs. If you want details on who does what to whom and where, we’ve already covered that in a previous article. Go ahead and read it—you know you want to!

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