You’ve met and married the perfect man. You’re compatible in every way that matters. Then, without warning, those butterflies that once fluttered all around your tummy every time he touched you suddenly fly off.
Maybe your husband has gained a few extra pounds, stopped cutting his hair or has taken a firm stand against suits and has decided to wear the same stained sweatpants every time you go to a wedding.
Or maybe nothing about his physical appearance has changed and he actually looks 100 times sexier than he did when you met. Perhaps you’re the one carrying around lofty expectations about your love life that he has failed to fulfill during your time as a married couple. It’s possible you have babies or children or teenagers and they consume every second of your day and make it impossible for you to see your partner as anything other than a pair of hands to help change diapers.
Since attraction is in the eye of the beholder, there’s no one reason why people stop finding their partner hot, but I think we can all agree that it happens sometimes and that it can be a huge problem because what usually follows is a lack of sex. And how many husbands (or wives) can continue finding happiness in their marriages when they suspect their partner no longer desires them?
“It’s easy to feel romantic when you live separately and date each other, because every moment spent together is special,” said Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. “From the moment you begin to live together, such romantic moments are no longer automatic. Instead, much of your time together is spent on more mundane things. As soon as the initial newness of living together wears off, you may find yourself feeling worried that your partner no longer cares as much or is as excited to be with you.”
Tessina says it’s natural for marriages to go through lulls, so before you start worrying, analyze your relationship and try to determine whether your lack of physical interest in your partner is the result of something temporary, like a new career that takes up your energy, a new baby or an illness in your family that is stressing you out.
Assuming you can’t identify the culprit and just feel like your desire for your partner has faded, Tessina offers six tips on how to recapture the feeling of being in love.
1. Don’t let our “youth-obsessed” culture rob you of pleasure
“Don’t get unrealistically focused on appearances. Growing old together means we will eventually show our age. Focus on how you feel about your partner, not on baldness, weight issues or lack of performance ability. You can happily have sex with each other into your dotage, if you learn to accept the changes that come with age.”
2. Go away
No, not forever! Tessina says: “Intimacy is only possible when there is also sufficient personal space. Allow a little distance, regularly. ‘How can I miss you if you don’t go away?’ is a humorous way to put it. You need some separate activities, friends and interests to keep your desire for each other fresh.”
3. Act like a girlfriend instead of a wife
“When you’re married and living together, it is too easy to let romance slide. Don’t forget to bring home flowers, send cards, create or buy silly little gifts for each other. Write poetry, silly notes, or songs, clip a magazine cartoon, or simply speak the positive things you feel.”
4. Don’t let your expectations get out of line
“Fun and intimacy do not depend on spending money or going to extremes; they don’t depend on a particular setting or activity, and they don’t have to take a lot of time. Through play we reconnect with our hearts, our childlike selves and the intuitive, spontaneous responses that lead to sexual connections.” Got that? Let’s all break out our Scrabble boards tonight and pop open a bottle of wine.
5. Get your mind off of yourself
“The most powerful thing you can do to keep a marriage strong is form a partnership, a team, where both parties feel respected, cared about and needed. If you really want to restore the marriage, begin not by complaining about your needs that aren’t being met, but by focusing on your mate’s needs. Once your good connection is restored, you can begin to work out the issues.”
6. Have “flexible” sex
I’m not talking about the kind of sex where you lift your feet over your head (though, if you can do that, too, more power to you both). Tessina encourages couples to open their minds to a variety of sex options in order to keep their relationships hot. Curious about her “menu?” Of course you are! Here are her suggestions:
Quickies: Brief sexual encounters that are great fun when you’re pressed for time. Morning heavy petting can make the whole day more exciting.
Sneaky sex: Whispery sex behind locked doors while the children are watching TV is great fun, or sneak lovemaking in your childhood bedroom while visiting your parents.
Romantic sex: Pull out all the stops: candlelight, dinner, dancing, dressing up, perhaps a lovely hotel room or a romantic dinner for two at home. It’s great for celebrations, or anytime you need a boost.
Newlywed sex: Recreate your first married days: the time you met your husband at the door wearing only a negligee or whispered wild things in his ear.
Make-up sex: After an argument or a struggle, sex can be extra loving and memorable.
Comforting sex: When one of you is sad or stressed, the other can be especially tender and soothing.
Relaxing sex: Laze around, have breakfast in bed, and make love for as long as you want; no pressure, no hurry and no demands on each other.
Reassuring sex: Tender affection reassures a partner who is temporarily insecure, and reaffirms your mutual love and commitment. Declare your love and remember how important it is.
Fantasy sex: Act out all the silly, forbidden or exciting fantasies you have: Nurse and patient (or doctor), children “playing house,” famous movie star and adoring fan or your two favorite characters from a soap opera, novel or movie. If you feel a little silly, laughter will only make it more fun.