“The very ingredients that nurture love – mutuality, reciprocity, protection, worry, responsibility for the other – are sometimes the very ingredients that stifle desire.”
~ Esther Perel
Welcome to the perennial $64,000 question many people in long-term relationships face:
How do I stop myself from feeling “very married,” bored, or uninspired in my relationship?
A layperson friend of mine once told me his solution to this problem.
When he was feeling disconnected and unsatisfied with his partner and was contemplating starting an affair with someone, he said,
“I know this other woman’s not the answer to my problem; I’ve got to deal with the problem in front of me.”
Wise words, indeed, from a man who knew that escaping into an affair had zero REAL potential to help him.
Sound familiar? If so: “About Face!”
Look towards – not away from – your partner and accept that you need to do something to change your feelings and behaviors.
Start by acknowledging the undeniable fact that you have a history together that includes a soul-to-soul or spiritual connection.
Make knowing this fact your trump card (and be ready to play it confidently at any time). If you have created a family together, think also of how they will benefit from the reconnecting work you need to do.
Step # 1: Make a pact with your partner to address the problem together. This is true even if it’s only one of you whose feelings are flagging.
Step # 2: Agree that you will be proactive and creative about solving the problem.
Step # 3: Realize that a very important component of rekindling the flames involves tapping into your five senses to re-explore one another – patiently and consistently until something is sparked.
Your goal is to fall back in love with your mate. I invite you to re-create and then re-experience the sensual awakenings you had when you were first attracted to your partner.
Step # 4: When embarking on this path, flirtatiously tell yourself that you both had the hots for each other in the beginning!
So, now reabsorb your partner’s behaviors that are fall-in-love-withABLE. Observe your partner chop onions, sing to your dog, tend to a basil plant growing in your herb garden, cry when remembering his grandfather’s parting words. Breathe in. Be inspired.
Step # 5: Arrange for an uninterrupted date night.
Dress in whatever clothes make you feel connected to your earliest days together. (Maybe he wore his High School football jersey and you can remember marveling at the pure grace of his throwing form? Maybe you wore a couple of layered, soft fabric tank tops and he loved how you put your hair up in a scarf?)
Or, if you can’t abide that “costuming” idea, dress in an outfit that makes you feel sexy and alive. It’s cool to like the way you look precisely because it makes you feel frisky. Suggest what your partner might wear if he or she needs some guidance.
Step # 6: Enhance your chances of being attracted to your partner by playing your favorite music to get you “in the mood for love.”
Maybe you’ll grab your Led Zeppelin CD, Roxy Music cassette, Muddy Waters record, or play the original soundtrack to the movie Grease from your i-Tunes playlist. Find some music that always wakes you up. No excuses!
Step # 7: Repeat all or any of those steps above as often as necessary because these steps involve not only opening up your old “memory packages” and seeing that they are full of positive emotions, but also taking to heart and mind that you can fall back in love. Rock on!
Dr. Annie Ready Coffey – www.replenishmentandchange.com
I remember when I was in my late 20’s and married to my first husband, I read an article that said something to the effect of:
If you are bored in your relationship, it is YOUR job to spice it up!
Being I was still very connected to my ego and loved to point the finger outward, I balked at this article and chose to stay firmly rooted in my belief that any issues within our relationship was his fault.
Now with 20 years in my rearview mirror, several unsatisfactory dating experiences later, a major life/relationship crisis and a profound spiritual awakening on board, I see things verrrrry differently.
Here is what I have learned:
1. We are 100% responsible for our lives and our experiences.
To point the finger outward is to avoid personal growth and the possible manifestation of change through the only place we have power- self. If we continually seek outward, we miss the power we have inward.
2. Date with eyes wide open.
If we choose to view our potential partner through the lens of “need” rather than “want”, we will indeed miss very important signs and signals that may indicate true compatibility or otherwise.
3. Give to yourself what you believe your partner should be giving you.
If it’s entertainment you seek, find your fun! It is not someone else’s responsibility to keep your life happy or entertaining, it is yours.
4. Keep quality and quantity control on the times you are together.
It can be very difficult for some couples to spend every waking moment together. By having our own interests, hobbies, clubs etc. we spend sufficient time on ourselves thus filling our own cups and time spent with our beloved becomes cherished and fresh.
5. Have an emotion-free, open and loving conversation with your partner regarding your need/desire for excitement and brainstorm ways you can bring it back into the relationship.
No one can read our minds so to assume he knows, is to keep the blame on him and perpetuate stagnation. Great relationships require great communication. Be willing to bring your thoughts, feelings and ideas to the table and see what creative adventures emerge.
I also believe it is important to remind yourself what it is that attracted you to your partner initially and be willing to celebrate his awesome traits with deep gratitude. No one will ever be 100% perfect, but they can be darn close!
Kristen Brown, Certified Empowerment Coach/Mentor – www.sweetempowerment.com
When you know someone for a long time, patterns develop and behaviors become predictable.
Unfortunately, that could lead to boredom and even “roving” eyes. Just because you are a couple, it doesn’t mean the romance has to end. Affection is the glue that holds people together.
Couples do better when each partner expresses affection in small amounts, consistently, throughout the relationship.
It’s not that difficult to express your care and regard for someone by making small gestures.
Actions like holding hands, giving hugs, tender touching, or gentle kissing are very meaningful gestures. Leaving notes in secret places is always an exciting way to express how you feel.
Spontaneity and surprises should continue throughout your time together because those are thoughtful and special gestures that your partner will always appreciate.
Cherish and nurture the relationship and it will be the best investment you ever made. Underestimate your partner — and you will sabotage this special gift.
In other words, don’t take the relationship for granted. The problem with many couples is that the early romantic stage of a relationship is sometimes not sustained as the relationship progresses.
Complacency, assumptions and false expectations become the norm.
You need to do something about that. So, by all means, leave love notes, buy special gifts, laugh, and don’t get so comfortable you’re forsaking the magic of being in love. The biggest relationship mistake is making your partner feel insignificant and unappreciated in your life.
Your ability to sustain your relationship requires emotional and intellectual skills and the wherewithal to know that you are responsible for making or breaking the experience.
So, if you found a wonderful individual who meets your standards for getting involved, don’t mess things up by being unwilling to give him significant attention and care. And hopefully, your partner will be doing the same for you!
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Boredom and loneliness are kissing cousins.
Whether we are conscious of it or not, when we get into relationships to “have someone to share my life with” or “someone to do things with” there is a boredom/loneliness issue at work.
The same holds true if we start dating someone and the relationship changes how we feel about our lives and ourselves.
All of the above are huge red flags that the relationship is built upon infatuation and it won’t last the distance at least not in the “it feels so right” state.
The truth is we are not bored with our partners, lives, towns, or friends, it is within us.
Every emotion, every angst, unease, joy, or happiness that we feel is triggered from the inside of our being not the outside.
The rush of a new relationship can be intoxicating and exciting. But it is essential to the ongoing health of the relationship to not expect the relationship, or our partner, to fix or relieve our own personal issues.
Boredom/loneliness are spiritual issues!
When we are all connected inside with ourselves, when we are comfortable in our own skin and view ourselves as our BFF, why would you ever be bored or lonely? These two emotions are symptoms of a spiritual defect.
Evaluate the boredom and work on entertaining yourself and becoming a very exciting partner for yourself.
Don’t wait on your mate to make your life more exciting; take the first step to make your life more exciting. Take a yoga class, join a book club, take up a new hobby, go to lunch with friends, get involved in a neighborhood organization, etc.
When you are no longer bored you will then be in a better place to evaluate if you and your partner are a good fit for one another.
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW – www.cynthiapickett.com
- Is the passion lost in your relationship?
- Has the sexual intimacy become boring?
- Do you and your partner have the three sexual experiences?
The three different sexual experiences are the quickie, the romantic, and the adventure.
To have more passion you have to have variety and to maintain the passion you have to be willing to talk about the sex. Discussing these three will assist you and your partner to open up about sexuality and to create more excitement.
Below I have described each experience and how you can bring it into your relationship.
The Quickie: The quickie is the experience you have when you have limited time. The quickie will not have the strong connective experience of the romantic or the adventure but it is still good to have in the repertoire.
As sex it self can be a good stress reliever and it still assists us in feeling more connected to our partner.
This is because of a little chemical called Oxytocin that is released during sexual intimacy and creates a bonding effect, especially in women.
This is the experience we use when we have 30 minutes before the kids get home, one partner is tired but the other is really interested, or perhaps even the elusive lunch meet up that could also move into the adventure experience.
The Romantic: The romantic is the sexual experience where we take our time. It is where our objective is to work on deepening the connective bond in the relationship. This type may take a whole day to set up.
For instance it can start with the text messages that I love you in the morning, to the flowers he brought home after work, to extensive foreplay before we move to sexual intercourse.
This is the classic experience many women identify as wanting more in their relationship.
This is the sex we see in our favorite romantic movies. It is the sexual experience where most people will report feeling connected as “one” or the ability to fully let go. The difficulty is that this experience takes a lot of work and it can not be the constant.
A lot of couples get bogged down with one partner consistently wanting this experience. It often results in a lack of sex because the other is intimidated that he or she has to perform at this high level.
The Adventure: The adventure is different for everyone and there is no right experience. The key is to creating an adventurous experience that is outside your norm.
Here are some examples: bondage, sex it different parts of the house, different sexual positions, sex in public places, using food, costumes, spanking, blind folds, using sex toys, and role play.
Keep in mind this is just a list of a few and there are many other experiences that could fall into this category. The idea is to be creative in your experiences and to create some adventure.
Above I have listed three experiences that can create more passion in the relationship.
The idea is to create variety and move in between all three experiences. It is so common to get in a rut with our sexual lives, especially when we have been in a relationship for a long time. My hope is that by using these three you will be able to spice sex up and find more passion.
Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT – www.relationalconnections.com
As we settle into a relationship, a sense of conflict often arises between a wish for the initial excitement vs. a comfort in the newfound sense security.
Sometimes it doesn’t even seem possible that the two could co-exist.
Are excitement and security mutually exclusive?
If we take a cue from the BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Sadism and Masochism, most commonly) community, the answer is most definitely not. In fact, in the BDSM world, thrill and safety are essential bedmates.
Here are a few BDSM-inspired suggestions for infusing your relationship with excitement:
1. Talk to your partner about what you want.
What is an exciting thing that you’d like to do with your partner? This could range from trying a new café to going to a key party. If you’re feeling antsy,start the conversation.
2. Set boundaries.
If you want to try something new, particularly if it seems like a stretch, verbalize your limits clearly, and be sure your partner understands. What’s allowed, and what’s not?
A benign example: “I want to have cereal instead of steak for dinner on Thursday, but no Fruit Loops. I only want Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Puffs. Are you willing to try that with me?”
3. Have a safe word.
Your safe word is the emergency brake for any activity that makes you uncomfortable. If you want to experiment, be sure you have a mutually honored agreement to stop in your tracks if either of you feels unsafe. No ifs, ands, or buts.
4. Have fun.
If you’re not having fun trying new things, something isn’t working. You may ultimately find that you are satisfied with some predictability. Like a college freshman just off a drinking binge, sometimes it’s nice to just wake up at 9:00 and have a green juice. We usually need to go to the extremes to find our happiest balance.
Boredom can happen when we stop communicating about new desires, dormant curiosities or complex dualities.
As beings, we are infinitely complex, with lifetimes of potential for discovery. What’s old can be ever new again! No being, when observed closely, is anything short of fascinating.
I will leave you with a quote from T.S. Eliot, in the spirit of new beginnings:
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Elizabeth Baum, M.A., MFT – www.elizabethbaumintegral.com
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