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Keeping the Flame Alive

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Where the Heart Resides

By: Amanda Hyslop  | February 1, 2024

I am a little unsure if I have the expertise to be writing this because I am not a psychologist or a marital therapist. My experience stems solely from my years with my husband, fifteen of which have been shared alongside raising our children. We have had our ups and downs, a fair number of stresses ranging from moving states, changing jobs, children, and now dealing with aging parents.  At the end of the day when the job and children duties are put to rest my husband finds his way to playing video games to decompress. I find myself watching the latest show recommendations. (Don't tell anyone, but I'm currently obsessed with 'For All Mankind.' I'm pretty sure I'm just one space suit away from an astronaut career in the next life.)

There is no doubt we love each other. However, it’s in these moments of parallel solitude when the challenge of rekindling our connection becomes most apparent for me. 

Maybe this is just another phase in our long journey together, the ability to have our own individual spaces and interests. Or perhaps, it's a silent signal, a nudge to shake us out of complacency, to find new ways to connect beyond the roles of parents and partners. Thankfully we have been talking about this more and making more time to connect. 

So the other night, as we settled in to watch a show that had a storyline about a woman's affair, my husband suddenly turned to me, his expression softening. "Please never leave me for a younger man," he confessed. This caught me off guard, and I couldn't help but chuckle, not out of mockery, but because I harbored a similar fear - that he might be drawn to a younger woman, a barista who could captivate him with her skill in creating fancy foam designs on his coffee.

It was a moment of unexpected honesty, a raw and tender exchange that somehow brought us closer than the usual everyday conversations about work, finances, kids, and household chores. Last night, as he casually snacked, he shared a dream of his, revealing how he always believed he could have been a good architect. This prompted him to ask about any of my dreams. Besides the astronaut aspiration I had mentioned before (wink wink), I confessed that I often thought I would have made a good teacher.

By sharing our dreams and fears, however trivial they might have seemed, we opened up our inner selves. We used to do this a lot when we first started dating. As we've grown older, many of our dreams have been realized, and I suspect the fears we once had about affording rent or securing good jobs have now faded into the past. And even though other dreams and fears have been replaced, somehow my husband and I have lessened in sharing in this practice. I want to start engaging in this practice more. 

I believe sharing fears and dreams is part of intimacy in a relationship. Dreams reveal our passions and our ambitions, the things that light us up and give our lives meanings. Similarly, sharing fears is equally important. It requires vulnerability, essentially saying, this is where I feel fragile, this is where I need help. By sharing these vulnerabilities it also fosters trust in one another, that we are there for each other. It makes us feel more secure. 

As Valentine's Day approaches, a time dedicated to expressing love, we are going to revisit the Baltic Kiss for southern eats and music. Alongside the dinner and the lively band, I have plans on bringing something extra - a few thoughtful questions I have saved on my phone. Here are the ones I am considering: What experience from your childhood do you think shaped you most as an adult? When do you feel most loved and appreciated by me? Can you recall a moment in your life when you felt most alive? How have your values evolved over the years, and what experiences have influenced these changes?

If you are celebrating with a partner this year, I challenge you to do the same. If you are single, embrace the moment by turning up the volume on those love songs just for yourself and asking those same questions to yourself. Let me know how it goes. Keeping the flame alive in a relationship isn't just about sparks in the bedroom. It's about stoking the embers of intimacy.


Amanda Hyslop is rocking the mom life with two whip-smart kiddos, Sienna & William, and her hubby, Bill, who has a knack for dad jokes. By day, she's a go-to Advice Nurse at Tamalpais Pediatrics; by night, you'll find her playing the keys or hitting the pavement for a run. Amanda's all ears for your thoughts and will get back to you – just as soon as she locates that pesky missing sock!
More from this issue:

All You Need is Self-Love Read >> 

For the Love of Science Read >> 

Keeping the Flame Alive Read >> 

The Gift of Love is in the Air - Literally! CO2 Levels in the Bedroom Read >> 

The Redwoods: A Community of Seniors Read >> 

You’re A Good Mama Read >>