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|Lauren Keys • 6/14/16|
The Short Version: After more than a dozen years of researching relationships, first as a journalist and then as a relationship coach, today Andrea Syrtash is a published author, television host, and on-air relationship expert. Her book, “Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband): How to Date Your Spouse,” is centered on bringing (and keeping) the love into a marriage. In her book, she offers tips on communication exercises and thoughts on why you may feel bored (plus how to combat boredom) with your partner based on the real experience of her own marriage and the experiences of the relationships she has helped coach.
After the first few years of a relationship, your brain actually changes from what was once a swirling cosmos of new experiences to a cozy familiarity laden with lulls. It isn’t that your relationship is boring; it’s that you’ve become accustomed to it.
Add to that the routine that we all get into when it comes to just living our lives — wake up, go to work, spend eight or more hours there trying to advance your career, come home, and prepare to do it all again tomorrow — and it is easy to lose track of your love life. Plus, some of us have even more responsibilities with pets, children, volunteer work, hobbies, and exercise.
Within just a few days of that “ships passing in the night” feeling, either my husband or I will make it a point to reconnect, rather than let emptiness edge its way into our relationship. It can be trying at times to find something new to talk about when you’ve been together for a while. You’ve learned so much about each other already that it seems there is less to discover — but don’t let that stop you!
Andrea Syrtash’s book “Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband): How to Date Your Spouse” outlines several ways to stoke the flames of your relationship. Her expertise on the subject comes from over 13 years of working on relationships — from helping write Craigslist personal ads to several dating research projects for her journalism career prior to her more recent relationship coaching. Andrea shared her top three tips with us when we spoke with her:
Following the success of “He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing): How to Find Love Where You Least Expect It,” where Andrea encouraged singles to break self-defeating dating patterns and get better in touch with their needs and wants, Andrea narrated the book for Audible in the Fall. She’s particularly excited about this version of the book, as she still gets numerous letters about “He’s Just Not Your Type,” years after its initial publication..
While she started her journey as a journalist researching dating topics back in 2004, Andrea quickly fell in love with talking to couples, and decided to undergo the necessary training to become both a dating and relationship coach.
Throughout our conversation with Andrea, she gave examples from her own marriage and all the relationships she has helped rekindle. “I try to embody the advice I give,” she said.
Andrea explained that when you find your relationship in a slump, it can sometimes be due to you or your significant other (or both) being in your own personal slump.
“There’s a chapter in the book that’s all about how important it is to be connected to your own passions if you want a passionate marriage,” Andrea said. “It’s about how to reconnect not only to your partner, but to reconnect to yourself.”
Her suggestion for combating boredom is to find or reintroduce hobbies, and, whether you do them together or apart, you will have something to keep you excited and to give you something new to talk about.
“I believe marriage is a choice you have to make every day,” Andrea said of maintaining a date night throughout your relationship. “Even one or two hours can be so good for your relationship to get you out of parent or roommate mode.”
Just as my husband and I try to make every moment we spend together special, Andrea suggested couples should not think of date nights as all or nothing propositions. If you can’t go out somewhere, celebrate your togetherness at home.
One of Andrea’s favorite date ideas is to be a tourist in your own city — get a hotel room or grab dinner at a new place and actively seek activities to do together around town that you might not have experienced before.
When it comes to physical intimacy, Andrea wants you to know that talking about sex is not unsexy.
“Instead of being complacent and letting days turn into weeks or months, sometimes it’s really helpful to schedule it,” she said. “Even though you literally calendared the sexy connection, you can still have fun leading up to it and of course be spontaneous in the bedroom (or outside of it)!”
As Andrea noted, the only difference between being friends and being in a romantic relationship is just that, the romance and intimacy. If you’re not feeling it for whatever reason, she says you have to talk about it. With her example couple, one person felt rejected when unsuccessfully initiating sex at 11 p.m. because the other person was simply exhausted and would have been more interested a few hours earlier. For this reason, “Sometimes you even have to talk about the best timing for sex”, Andrea said.
In her journalism career, Andrea was often covering dating trends and making predictions before bloggers or experts broke the news. She jokes that she feels like a veteran in the space even though she is still considered new in the coaching world (although her first foray was writing and editing peoples’ dating profiles on Craigslist back in 2002).
“In terms of trends, things are rapidly evolving,” she said. “I remember being interviewed by People StyleWatch back in ‘07 or ‘08 about upcoming dating trends, and I mentioned location-based dating and no one had even really heard of it.”
Andrea said she stays motivated because the topic feels very natural to her — she says she “loves love.” And that passion is taking her further into the public eye as she makes more television appearances and does speaking engagements on relationships and, of course, love.
When we’re first in a relationship, Andrea said our brains are basically “high” with a rush of chemical responses to the newness and excitement. But after a few years, our brains come off that high, and it can be easy to let our relationships fall by the wayside.
Whether we get bogged down at work or at home, sometimes we need a wake up call to remind us to re-engage with the relationships we care about most. Andrea’s work aims to combat creeping loneliness in marriages and beyond.
While Andrea mostly covers romantic relationships, she recently gave a TEDx Talk that wove her advice into the other areas of people’s lives, specifically their business lives. The talk discussed how, despite what is often said, business is personal. Every relationship, Andrea explained, is built on similar elements such as mutual respect and good communication.
“To me, nothing in the world is more important than our relationships,” she said. “So I am passionate about helping people navigate them.”
“Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband): How to Date Your Spouse” also has communication exercises that cover all the common issues that come up in marriage (e.g., in-laws, finances, sex). The exercises help give you examples on how to bring up those topics, many of which can be applied to other relationships as well, in a way that your partner will hear you.
Her dating books also offer exercises for the reader so he or she can be more conscious of patterns that prevent them from finding what or who they want.
“I hope it helps people be more aware and not just press snooze on their relationships,” Andrea said.