The most common complaint of couples today is that they’ve fallen out of love. However, falling out of love usually didn’t occur overnight. Likewise, relationship repair takes time and effort on the part of both partners and includes practicing forgiveness and emotional attunement. There aren’t any foolproof ways for couples to repair problems in their marriage but ending destructive relationship patterns and increasing sexual and emotional intimacy is a good first step.
Put an End to Harmful Relationship Patterns
According to experts, the most common reason couples’ divorce is because of a pursuer-distancer pattern that develops over time. Dr. Sue Johnson identifies the pattern of demand-withdraw as the “Protest Polka” and says it’s one of three “Demon Dialogues.” She explains that when one partner becomes critical and aggressive the other often becomes defensive and distant.
Renowned relationship expert Dr. John Gottman’s research on thousands of couples discovered that partners that get stuck in this pattern the first few years of marriage have more than a 80% chance of divorcing in the first four or five years.
Another common reason why couples split is the blame game. Dr. Johnson writes: “If we love our partners why don’t we just hear each other’s call for attention and connection and respond with caring?”
In other words, instead of focusing on your partner’s flaws and looking to blame him or her, try spending your energy fostering a deeper emotional and sexual connection. Stop assuming the worst of your partner and put an end to demanding your partner change. Instead focus on your needs and how you can communicate them in a loving, respectful way. Take responsibility for your part in a problem – none of us is without flaws.
8 Tips to Rev Up Sexual Intimacy and Fall in Love Again:
- Change your pattern of relating sexually and emotionally. This includes ways you might be denying your partner or coming on too strong. Be receptive to their suggestions for intimacy. If you are too distracted or tired to have sex, suggest a brief massage or cuddling instead.
- Avoid criticizing each other and stop the “blame game.” Mix things up to end the power struggle. For example, distancers may want to practice initiating sex more often and pursuers try to find ways to tell their partner “you’re sexy,” in subtle ways while avoiding critique and demands for closeness.
- Increase physical affection and playful ways to show affection. According to author Kory Floyd, physical contact releases feel good hormones. Holding hands, hugging, and touching can release oxytocin (the bonding hormone) that reduces pain and causes a calming sensation. Studies show that it’s released during sexual orgasm and affectionate touch as well.
- Maintain a sense of awe and wonder about your partner and sexual intimacy and experiment with new ways to bring pleasure to your partner. Look at sex as an opportunity to get to know him or her in new ways and to rekindle your relationship. Vary the kind of sex you have (gentle, loving-tender sex; intimate sex, highly erotic sex, etc.).
- Make sex a priority and set the mood for intimacy earlier before TV or work dulls your passion. A light meal, your favorite music and your favorite wine can set the stage for great sex.
- Separate sexual intimacy from routine. Avoid talking about problems, household chores, and raising children because sexual arousal plummets when we’re distracted by tasks. Break up the routine and try new things as your mood and sexual needs change.
- Choose to show affection through sexual intimacy even when you don’t feel particularly close to your partner outside the bedroom. Sex may foster the emotional connection you are looking for. Gottman suggests that couples hoping to spark romance need to turn towards each other even when they don’t feel like it if they want to sustain intimacy.
- Practice being more emotionally vulnerable. For example, share your innermost wishes, fantasies, and desires with your partner. If you fear emotional intimacy, take steps to overcome this such as engaging in individual or couple’s therapy.
The good news is that there are some fairly simple things you can do to restore the spark that you once had. In fact, Dr. Gottman reminds us that friendship is the glue that can hold a marriage together: “Couples who “know each other intimately [and] are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, and dreams” are couples who make it.”
Be sure to carve out time to spend with your partner and talk about what you desire emotionally and sexually. Try a variety of activities that bring you both pleasure. Have fun courting your partner and practice flirting as a way to ignite sexual desire and intimacy. Even if you’re not a touchy-feely person, increasing physical affection and emotional attunement can help you to sustain a deep, meaningful bond.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry