It’s no surprise that all new relationships eventually experience the slow fade of the honeymoon stage. Dates out become dinners in, fancy gifts take a backseat to everyday expenses, and surprise trips turn into, well, surprise dishes piling up in the sink. Some couples refer to it as a “rut”; I like to call it “opportunity”. But, however you refer to it, the natural progression (or, in this case, regression) sucks. And, you can choose to let it consume the relationship, or you can take steps to pull your twosome out of the sinking quicksand.

More often than not, the excuse carries at least some validity: you’re working crazy hours, the prices keep rising, there aren’t enough hours in the day. Then, there are the couples who consider going to the gym together a bonding experience (and it can be, as long as it’s followed by a candlelit dinner to make up for calories lost). And, the ultimate: your other half already fell for you, so your job is done. Realistically, it’s much harder to keep a mate than to get one. In the honeymoon stage, each party bites their tongue about the little things, because all the annoying habits appear cute at the time. It may have been funny to pull out the tip calculator after your first dinner to show the vast capabilities of your new Android, but really, 20 percent of something requires basic math skills and just a tad of logic. And, as funny as your initial jokes were, the better you know someone, the less humorous they become. So, when one, or both, parties start to get too comfortable, things start getting uncomfortable.

Being creatures of habit, we also tend to get bored easily when we start to feel trapped by those habits. So, keep each other on your toes. The worst thing you can let your relationship become is stale. Some couples say they schedule date night once a week—if you’re one of those, don’t let date night consist of dinner and a movie every week. Add adventures to those dates—from bowling to skydiving, pick your edge—or at least add variety: choose new restaurants, organize theme nights. Any spice is better than no spice. Make little things count. If you cannot visit the beaches of Bora Bora, and the French Riviera is out of financial reach, get creative. Colorado may not have an ocean, but reservoirs can temporarily substitute greater waters. For the more adventurous, California comes with a much lighter price tag. One thing to note is, whether the act is small or grandiose, all it takes to relight a spark is effort. And remember, women never tire of gifts, and men can always use more sexy time.

Vicky fills the shoes of local Carrie Bradshaw in CandiDates, a blog about her own quest to explore the intricacies of relationships. Originally from Kiev, Ukraine, she has made Denver her home and playground. A writer and copy editor for 303 Magazine by day, Vicky spends her nights pursuing her passion of ballroom dance.