We all know about date nights, sending flowers and making a special meal for our spouse. Those are the basics in terms of maintaining a healthy, loving relationship with our partner.

But if you really want to turn up the heat and keep things fresh with your spouse, try these simple yet effective ways to prevent your relationship from growing stale.

1. Laugh

Boy, this sounds easy but it can be truly difficult. When you factor in work, raising kids, paying bills and maintaining a house there doesn't always seem like a lot to laugh or joke about. But those parts of life are exactly why we need laughter, release and enjoyment. Even if neither you nor your wife are a comedian, there are moments of levity. Enjoy them. Soak in them together. Another option is to watch funny television shows or movies that will provide you a sense of escape. By laughing together you will feel better and feel more connected by shared moments.

2. Kind Words

This seems like a no-brainer, right? We teach our kids to speak kindly to one another so its natural that we would show them how to speak kindly with the way we communicate with those around us, like our spouse. But oftentimes we fail to live up to those standards. With the pressures of life weighing on us, we often use language that is not pleasant or affectionate. Challenge yourself to start the day with kind words to your partner. A smile doesn't hurt either.

3. Rediscover Shared Passions

Remember when you had time to go to the movies every week or check out that hot, new band at that small venue or could linger over coffee and the morning paper at a bistro? With kids and jobs, those moments can be hard to make time for. But you must try. Take a step back and ponder the reasons that you and your spouse came together. Rekindling those passions — even on a limited basis can reinvigorate your relationship and make you savor your time together.

4. Get to Work

My wife and I recently decided to plant a tree in the backyard of our new home. It was a project that neither of us had ever done before and as we worked together on digging, planting and mulching, we laughed and felt a sense of accomplishment — as a unit. It was an empowering moment. Find a project that you and your spouse can focus on and accomplish together. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. It just has to be something that you both are committed to and want to work on as a pair.

5. Join the Club

Our interests and desires change over time. Maybe you have a new interest in cooking or reading or bowling. Encourage your significant other to join in that new endeavor and look into joining a club in your community where you can indulge that interest and enjoy time with your partner at the same time. A side benefit will be the new friendships you will make and the new experiences that you'll share.

6. Get Sweaty

No, I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about exercise. One of you may hate going to the gym while the other one wants to take up Crossfit or try yoga. Find an exercise class that you'll both enjoy and get moving.

7. Walk Down Memory Lane

Set aside some time each week to have a visual reminder of the love you and your spouse have shared over the years and all the joy you've brought into the world. Watch home videos, look at pictures and on a rare occasion, pull out your wedding video and revel in the peace and abundant happiness you felt on that special day.

8. Just Talk

It can be challenging with all the demands in all of our lives to find time to exercise, join a club or do a project. If all else fails, simply try to discover 20 or 30 uninterrupted minutes during the day to just talk to your spouse. When you do, try to avoid the business-like talk that accompanies so much of our lives. If you can, try to share thoughts and feelings and happy news about your life and passions.

The most important element of all of this is to maintain your commitment. Sure, our commitment ebbs and flows but your relationship with your spouse sets the tone for much of what occurs in your family. If your relationship is strong and vital, then you'll probably notice that your broader family relationships will feel healthier, too.