Wedding season is upon us. How do we hold onto the spirit of those beginning days of marriage and harness that positive energy to keep our love alive?

A woman recently confided to me that 15 years of marriage have left her feeling bored. It’s not that conflict exists; there’s just a lack of passion. Many marriages fall apart not from an increase in fighting and strife rather a decrease in positive feelings. The relationship seems tedious. We grow tired and without realizing it move away from each other.

When we say that “marriage takes work” we must focus on the type of work that builds and does not destroy. I’ve spoken with husbands and wives who insist that they’ve put great efforts into their relationship. But after some discussion, they come to realize that all that they have been doing is fruitless labor.

What Does Not Work:

Trying to change our partner.

Marriage cannot be about looking to transform the person you live with. This causes more harm than good. You end up feeling resentful and angry. Think about how difficult it is to change oneself; now multiply that over and over. Realizing that you have not achieved results in your partner leaves you with a bitter taste for your relationship.

Bickering and Nagging

We can spend years discussing or squabbling about the same issue. We haven’t accomplished a thing. The conversation is replayed; we fall into the same old pattern. Instead of helping ourselves, we are slowly dismembering the love that we have.

What Does Work:

Recharge Your Relationship

Combat the feeling of boredom by plugging in to your sources of energy. What gets you excited? What would you look forward to doing? Which experience makes you feel joyful or gives you pleasure?

Instead of complaining that your spouse is boring, take the initiative. Surprise your spouse and plan time together doing something new; or an activity that motivates you to feel energized. Stop focusing on your spouse’s lack of drive and you be the one to breathe new life into the relationship.

Raise Your Partner

Too much time is spent knocking down those we love. Whether it be through verbal put downs, a sarcastic one liner or rolling our eyes, we dismiss and disparage without thinking.

It’s those moments when we extend ourselves that will help us recapture the magic. Studies show that idealizing one’s partner is a recipe for marital success. Think about giving a word of appreciation, a compliment and sharing a positive feeling about your spouse. Give warmth, a hug; make your spouse feel loved.

Instead of engaging in the negative, break the cycle and find something good to share. If you feel as if you are struggling to find that good trait then you have discovered where your work begins. Every human being has been blessed with a spark of the Divine. We simply forget how to focus on the greatness that lies within and instead fixate on that which irks us. Each of us needs to feel valued and cherished. Affection matters, both the physical and emotional.

Invest in Your Marriage

Any prosperous venture requires sweat, sacrifice, and tireless dedication. We don’t mind because we keep our eye on the goal. We understand that the more we give the better our chance of success. Marriage is no different.

Too many men and women mistakenly believe that if they are the ones giving, they are defined then as the ‘weaker one’. They stand back and wait to ‘get,’ thinking that the more they get the more powerful they stand in the relationship.

On the contrary. Waiting to ‘get’ makes one feel weak and dependent. Lack of giving leads to disinvestment and waning passion. Being a ‘giver’ means that you are an active investor in this venture. Setting aside time, sharing feelings - hopes, dreams and disappointments, listening without checking your iPhone, grooming oneself, writing a loving text or card just ‘because’, even taking on your spouse’s chore, all show that you care and want to make this marriage work. Nurture each other just as you did when you first met. Don’t think of this as your chore; think of it as your passion.

Eyes Never Change

There is one last piece of advice I recently received on rekindling the spark of love that I’d like to share with you. These words of wisdom came to me from my father 20 years after he left this world.

I received a call that a woman I knew was sitting shiva for her father. We had grown up together many years ago as little girls on Long Island. My parents had been her family’s Rabbi and Rebbetzen and there was a sense of great warmth and closeness between us and the congregation. Of course I wanted to express my feelings of loss.

I took my seat in the shiva house waiting for the mourner to acknowledge my presence as is the custom. Though we hadn’t seen each other for over 30 years it took just a moment as recognition dawned upon her face. She opened her mouth in astonishment and gently told her mother who I was.

“You had a beautiful father,” I said. “He always had a kind word and a smile on his lips. And I remember his eyes. He had such beautiful green eyes.”

Her eyes filled.

“You know that I have my father’s eyes?”

I looked closely. I had never realized it but she did.

“And do you know what?” she added. “Every day I wake up and look at my eyes in the mirror and remember the words your father gave us under the chuppah. Can I share them with you?”

I nodded, and she took out her wedding album showing me a photo of a young couple enveloped in love and magic with my father standing before them.

“Your father told us that years will pass and the day may come when we look at each other and feel as if we somehow don’t recognize one another. That seems impossible now, it’s true. But he would like us to recall his words and when that day may come just take a moment. Don’t speak. Don’t say a word. Just look at one another, look into each other’s eyes. Because eyes never change. And then we will remember. So often through the years we drew upon your father’s words. We just stopped, looked into each other’s eyes and reminded ourselves of the magic.”

Now it was my turn for my eyes to fill.

What a feeling for me, to hear my father’s words to this bride and groom from years ago that I had never heard before.

Yes, it is possible to still feel love and passion. Develop a positive relationship. There will always be some negative but work on maximizing the good and minimizing the difficulties. Your actions will neutralize the tough times. And take a moment to stare into each other’s eyes. Because eyes never change.