I think it’s important for couples to keep things fresh regardless of whether they are fictional or not. Boredom and complacency are two of the biggest relationship killers. A couple still needs to be able to surprise each other even after years or, as is the case in paranormal fiction, millenia together. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy but an unplanned weekend getaway or even learning a new hobby can do wonders for a couple’s mental health. Also, it’s crucial that they make time for each other which is no easy task when you’re busy slaying vamps and unraveling some evil villain’s master plan but even supes need a vacation from time to time (even though the bad guy usually ends up crashing it anyway).
Conflict is also important to the success of any relationship just so long as it’s not overdone. In the early stages it’s normal for a couple to fight over what I like to call the “big stuff” because they are still learning about their partner and aren’t yet sure whether their union will last so they test each other. This of course often leads to make-up sex which is sizzle enough in itself! However, once a series hits 5+ books, I expect the lovebirds to have found their comfort zone and to only fight over little things like who left the cap off the toothpaste. Ok… so most paranormal couples don’t argue over anything so mundane as dried out fluoride but you get my meaning. If they are still arguing over the “big stuff”, it gets old real fast. I absolutely HATE it when a duo continues to have the same fight over and over again; without conflict the relationship becomes boring to read about but with too much it can be overkill too. There’s a fine line.
In my opinion, the key to making a long term couple sizzle is growth. The characters, story and world evolve from book-to-book so it’s important that the protagonists’ relationship continues to change as well.
I think you’re right on the money Carmel. There has to be some type of conflict to keep the story driving forward, but for an established series I don’t want that conflict to be between the couple. They need to have already worked out those big issues…and it’s fun to see them fight over the little ones 🙂
Hey Carmel! *waves* I think couples should have… if not fights, at least discussions about some issues, like you said (heck, I know I’d fight with myself some days if I could do it and not end up in a straitjacket). But I think even with little fights, there’s a fine line between normal bickering and too much of it. I hate when couples in books (and in real life) fight over the same little issue every time.
As for how to keep them sizzling… Here’s my idiotic romantic side chirping more than it should. In books. at first I do enjoy reading the hot, sexy scenes between them. After a while though, especially if we read long series with the same main characters each book, I like to see more romance than sex. Little details, like him bringing her flowers just because (or chocolate, that is romantic too. or even better: a gift card to a local bookstore) or her cooking him his favorite dinner from when he was a kid, I don’t know, little cute things that only someone closest to you knows how to do them. If they’re meant to last forever and ever, they should know how to surprise each other even when they know everything there is to know about each other. Am I making any sense here?