We have been married for 14 and a half years. Our marriage seems to have lost something along the way. It’s like we are two different people that have nothing in common anymore. How do we get back what we once had?

Dear Struggling,

You may not be able to get back to what you once had because neither of you are the same person you were 14 years ago. That doesn’t mean you cannot have something better. However, over the years you two have probably, like many couples, slipped into a routine — who uses the sink when, who takes out the trash, what you watch on TV. Perhaps it even extends to when you have sex. We humans are creatures of habit. Breaking routines and altering patterns take time and tenacity, even when you acknowledge that they are no longer useful.

We all need to be open to adjusting our habits. As with a fire in the fireplace, sometimes you have to poke the logs. Stirring the coals can start a new flicker. Here are a few steps you can take to fan the flame again:

1. Determine if this is an issue for you both or just for you

If he feels the same way as you do, then you can tackle it together. Sit down together during a quiet, uninterrupted time and have a long talk about the present state of your relationship, what your needs and desires are, and what you want the mariage to be. However, before doing so, make sure you both agree to the following rules:

2. Is it just your own perception?

If you get a blank stare when you ask your partner if he thinks your marriage has gone flat, then realize you might be the only one who sees the issue — or the only one willing to admit it. If that is the case, then do not hold a grudge. Work on your own attitudes and feelings about the marriage. Let him know that you want to stay married, but that you need time to work through some things. Ask him to be patient with you. Then he will not be hurt or feel impotent in the relationship.

Here are some things you can do to improve the relationship even if your mate is not aware of the need to improve it:

If you begin to change your attitudes and perceptions about your husband, then within a month or so you may discover the spark is still quite alive. It just needed a bit of fanning. Keep positive and make an effort to keep on loving your mate, despite the pressures of life, work, and family. Who knows what changes that might bring?

It can really help to talk about what you're facing. If you're losing hope for your relationship, please connect with one of our free and confidential mentors through the button below. You don't have to journey alone.

This article was written by: Julie Cosgrove

Photo Credit: Sascha Kohlmann