Story by Lana Strathearn. 

Valentine’s Day may bring a sense of love into the atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean those feelings will naturally last forever.

There are couples falling out of love and marriages falling apart.

Around 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, according to American Psychological Association.

In the United States, there are nearly 2,400 divorces per day, according to McKinley Irvin Family Law.

We all desire the spark and excitement that comes from being in love, but how can we keep it from fading over the years?

Alexa Schulte, a junior studying communication, and her husband Jake Schulte, a junior studying mechanical engineering, swear by the importance of continued dating even after marriage.

“We’re going to keep dating till we die and beyond,” Alexa Schulte said.

She said her husband specifically asks her if she will go on a date with him and goes out of his way to plan and make it happen.

“It just changes the attitude of everything,” Jake Schulte said.

Alexa Schulte said she noticed the benefit dating has had on their relationship as opposed to just spending time together.

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“When you’re hanging out, you’re not necessarily with each other for each other,” Alexa Schulte said. “Where as when you are on a date, you’re there to connect more intimately with and for each other.”

Kevin Davis, a senior studying music, also said dating is at the top of his list of ways to keep a romance alive.

“I was advised to always take your woman out on dates,” Davis said. “Spending time together is a good thing, but dating is a special opportunity that allows you to get to know the other person better while showing them how special they are to you.”

Davis said his relationship with his girlfriend, Britney McCarthy, a senior studying theatre, was different.

“On our second date, it hit me that Britney is an infinitely complex person, and it’s going to take a really long time to get to know her and all of who she is,” Davis said. “So having a goal of really getting to know who she is has helped me have the right attitude towards courting her.”

The greater variety of things you do together as a couple helps with getting to know each other better.

Alexa and Jake Schulte said they have incorporated companionship inventory into their relationship.

“It’s important because when you’re sealed to your best friend, it’s easy to be like, ‘You’re good? I’m good. We’re good,’” Alexa Schulte said. “But every now and again we need to dig deep and go through and talk about specifics in our relationship to build our relationship.”

Alexa Schulte said that if they do not have a plan to set specific goals, then they couldn’t progress as individuals and as a couple.

“You don’t have to go over the same points in Preach My Gospel, but you learn to make your own, tailored to your needs,” Jake Schulte said. “This helps us find the things we can do to help each other improve.”

Alexa Schulte said she has always made it a point to ask her husband if he feels he is being loved.

“I also ask if there is anything I need to work on,” she said.

Knowing your significant other’s needs are being met is another way to keep your relationship sparking.

“Thoughtful gifts are important,” Jake Schulte said. “They don’t have to be anything expensive said by any means. My favorite gift Alexa ever has given me was a deck of cards, each written with things she loves about me.”

Jake Schulte said his wife has spent a lot of money on him over the years with different gifts, but because of how thoughtful the deck of cards was, it is easily the most special.

“It’s important that you’re always seeking opportunities to show your love to that person,” Alexa Schulte said. “As long as that’s always part of your relationship, you’ll always be happy.”

For McCarthy, she said physical touch makes her feel loved and validated.

“Touch is an important thing for me,” McCarthy said. “He massages my feet and my head and plays with my hair and that means a lot to me — to touch me non-sexually. That’s a rare find in many guys, is to touch me with tenderness and not with lustfulness.”

Davis said he and McCarthy haven’t avoided conflict.

“We’re very honest,” Davis said. “And honesty to me means that everything has full value up-front. We just go for it when it comes to things that are difficult, and we face them. I think avoiding truth can be a divider.”

Davis said open and loving communication is key in his and McCarthy’s relationship.

“I think that if two people are really interested in keeping a relationship alive, then that’s half the battle,” Davis said.

McCarthy said Davis’ use of his talents makes her feel loved.

“He makes me songs,” McCarthy said. “If a guy can take his talent and use it to create a gift for his woman, I think that’s the most romantic thing. An engineer creating something, a mathematician making a cute little Pythagorean theorem, if you’re a carpenter, if you’re a song writer, if you like playing video games and you make this weird thing on Minecraft, that’s sweet. You’re using your talent not just for yourself, but to show love to her.”

Ultimately, the foundation of a strong relationship is wanting, first and foremost, the happiness of the other person.