Steamboat Springs Pat Davis has been married for 45 years, but that doesn't mean she has forgotten what it feels like to fall in love.
In fact, Davis sets aside time each year to "refall" in love with her husband because she believes it is inevitable for feelings of boredom, dissatisfaction or aggravation to filter into relationships, particularly marriages.
"If I ever get that way, I stop, take a week and decide, 'What do I love so desperately about him that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him?'" said Davis, president and CEO of Passion Parties International and the author of "The Passion Parties Guide to Great Sex."
"All of a sudden, the difference in my attitude changes everything in the relationship. About twice a year, I take a week and 'refall' in love with him. That's a little secret that has kept me married for 45 years."
February is a time to focus on relationships because of Valentine's Day, a polarizing holiday for many Americans. One side dreads the pressure of Feb. 14. The other side delights in having a special day set aside to celebrate a loved one.
Relationship experts agree that Valentine's Day is important because it is on the calendar, prompting many to dedicate at least one day a year to a significant other, but several people who specialize in unlocking the secrets to great relationships believe a key ingredient to a successful, enduring bond are the other 364 days during the year.
"It's important to have that time together and schedule it," Steamboat Springs author Jill Murphy Long said. She and husband Greg Long have been married for 17 years and make sure they go on vacation together, go to the driving range together or play tackle football together.
The point is they do activities together, said Murphy Long, who wrote "Permission to Party," among other books. She reiterated that dedicated time together doesn't have to be expensive, include presents or be thoroughly planned in advance. After all, the couple has a teenage daughter, and children put wrinkles in all plans.
"Just walking together opens up a lot of room for communication," Murphy Long said. "Communication is right up there with humor in terms of importance. My husband is good at leaving notes or letters. Maybe the written word is how you best communicate."
It is important to remember that each individual has different priorities in a relationship and varying definitions of romance and intimacy, said author Mary Zalmanek, who wrote "The Art of the Spark: 12 Habits to Inspire Romantic Adventures" and gave a presentation at Colorado Mountain College in January.
Some people love surprises. Others hate the unexpected, but relationships need adventure for that extra spice, particularly relationships and marriages that are years old.
"It's easy when you are first dating and newlyweds, but what do you do after a long time?" Zalmanek asked.
The answer is at Taco Bell. Well, sort of.
Zalmanek told a story of two friends who were on a budget but wanted to do something special. The couple got dressed up, got in a friend's fancy car and went out for dinner at Taco Bell.
But they sat at a table with a white tablecloth, candles and fancy tableware. A friend took the couple's order and served them like a polished waiter at a five-star establishment. It was just a bean burrito dinner, but all the add-ons made an ordinary night into something extraordinary.
It is adventures such as that example that Zalmanek helps plan for her clients.
Married for 31 years, Zalmanek cites daily loving gestures, monthly dates and yearly adventures as a foundation for any relationship. In addition, creating romantic traditions and enjoying the unexpected are other habits to help inspire romantic adventures.
"Even with the best planning, something can go wrong and probably will, but if you have the right attitude, it will be all right," Zalmanek pointed out during her presentation.
And much like New Year's Day has served as the point day for setting resolutions to lose weight or stop smoking, Valentine's Day can be the day for couples to make the commitment to "refall" in love.
"I really believe that you really have to work on a relationship," Davis said. "In the book, I talk about how soulmates are made - not born."
- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org