04/18/2011 06:23 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

How to Give Old-Fashioned Romance a Little CPR

It's the staples that bond a relationship. The shared moments lingering over a Chardonnay, making a meal together, laughing at the same joke, rolling around on the couch. It's these fragile moments of tenderness that will form the glue that holds us together during life's inevitable speed bumps and sometimes even unexpected boulders. These are the currency of love.

After interviewing more than 300 men and women about dating and mating, I cannot stress how important it is to make time for romance. This is corroborated by any number of studies, which point to the fact that our relationships are the most important contributor to our overall happiness. Yet we often squander the most precious resource we have by neglecting to tend the fires of affection.

Every man and woman I interviewed had a presentiment that a relationship had gone cold once they became careless about sharing memorable moments -- when they stopped making time to go out for dinner or light the candles at home while sharing a favorite dish. Many could trace the journey from here to detachment and finally to one or the other walking out the door.

Whether you are looking for that special someone, just beginning a relationship or with a long-term love, I believe it's imperative to make romance a priority. Every partnership needs a little poetry. We don't live by beer alone, and eternal love was not founded on to-do lists. There have to be moments where we are lifted from the mundane and connect with each other in a meaningful way.

I spoke to one wife, Julia, in a decade-long marriage, who told me she and her husband had not been out by themselves, without their two children, for over a year. I suggested that they set aside time to go out for dates, during which they should make it a rule not to talk about their offspring. Julia looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "What will we talk about?" They had become strangers outside their shared responsibilities and clearly needed a romance intervention.

When you think about the high emotional and financial toll of divorce, the cost of an occasional outing is almost immaterial. They also reap a huge return on investment. The first step for those who have lost their romantic roadmap is to make time for their significant other. If you make it as much a priority as the next job promotion, than your relationship will prosper.

Set Aside Time For A Weekly Amorous Assignation

Firstly, set aside time every week to have a date together. And don't make excuses. If having the kids minded is an issue and you can't afford a babysitter, make a plan to swap nights with other parents and alternatively beg or bribe your relatives. Even if you are busy at work or have an ongoing amour with your remote control or feel so tired that you claim the only event you want to attend is "the blanket show," get out of your romance rut, reshuffle your priorities and give date night the importance it deserves.

Plan Something Special

Romance is really about being able to discover the emotional g-spots of your partner. What is it that tickles their tender parts? And I'm not talking sex toys; I'm talking about gestures. Spend time considering the activities your partner really enjoys. What times have you seen their face light up the most? This could be making their all-time favorite meal, signing up for a course in tango lessons or even strolling down memory lane and recreating your first date.

Take turns creating a special date that has meaning for each of you. Think about your partner and what would be significant for them. For instance, don't just take your wife to a football game or force your boyfriend to sit through a chick flick. This is about creating a memorable evening that you will both enjoy that involves one-on-one time and engaging in intimate conversation and actual eye contact.

Create An Ambience

Romance is about ambience. It's about adding a bit of Vaseline to the harsh lens of real life. Think dim lighting, or as I often call it, "over-thirties lighting." No one wants to be lit up like the display shelf in a convenience store; there is no greater romance contraceptive. Choose a flatteringly lit restaurant, or light candles at home, or use lamps. Make sure your home or the venue you select is also conducive to romance, with flowers and some soft touches.

If you are at home, break out the best silverware, and don't stint on each other; use proper napkins and not paper towels. Make sure the television is turned off, and play a seductive soundtrack. Ditto if you go out: make sure it is somewhere that doesn't feature action replays but rather background music that puts you in an amorous mood. And make sure you dress up, even if you are only serenading each other in your lounge room. The power of a nicely pressed suit or a gorgeous frou-frou dress can't be underestimated when it comes to igniting even long-dormant sparks.

Talk About What You Adore About Each Other

There are conversations, and there are conversations. We can talk all night but say nothing of import, even turn the night into a glorified memo. The best rule of thumb is to make this your special time where you don't talk about chores or children or anything that brings to mind the pressing problems of day-to-day life. Ideally, talk about things that make you remember what attracted you to each other in the first place. A great strategy is to tell each other what you appreciate and adore about each other.

Compliments are champagne and oysters for the soul. Come up with more and more creative ways to tell the other person how fabulous they are. This sort of ego-stroking will make your man feel two feet taller and your woman feel like she's gone up a cup size. As they say, her cup will runneth over. It's about putting the rosy hue back into each other's cheeks.

I say we all give old-fashioned romance a little CPR. It's Viagra for the spirit.

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