Rekindle the passion in your marriage. Jason and Kendra have been married for 12 years and have three children. most of their conversations are about work, household chores, their children’s activities, and the mundane aspects of their stalled marriage.
kendra says it like this: “i love jason, but the passion is gone.”
Reading: How to connect sexually with partner
when kendra drops this bombshell, jason replies, “i thought we were doing fine, we really were. even though we don’t have much sex anymore, it seems like a phase we’re going through. i don’t have any energy left when i go to bed at night.”
By all accounts, Kendra and Jason were passionate during the early years of their marriage. however, in recent years, their sex life has declined and they rarely spend time together without their children. Kendra seeks out Jason for sexual intimacy and Jason often walks away from her.
According to experts, the most common reason couples lose passion for each other and stop being sexually intimate is a pursuer-distancer pattern that develops over time. dr Sue Johnson identifies the demand-withdraw pattern as the “protest polka” and says it is one of the three “demonic dialogues”. she explains that when one partner becomes critical and aggressive, the other often becomes defensive and distant.
dr. John Gottman’s research of thousands of couples found that couples who get stuck in this pattern in the first few years of marriage have more than an 80% chance of divorcing within the first four to five years.
encourage emotional intimacy
A good sexual relationship is based on emotional intimacy and closeness. In other words, if you hope to improve your physical relationship, you need to work on your emotional connection first. focus on meeting your partner’s needs and communicating your own needs in a loving and respectful way.
in the science of trust, dr. Gottman explains that couples who want to rekindle their passion and love need to turn to each other. practicing emotional attunement can help you stay connected even when you disagree. this means turning towards each other showing empathy, instead of being defensive. both partners need to talk about their feelings in terms of positive need, rather than what they don’t need.
according to dr. Gottman, expressing a positive need is a recipe for success for both listener and speaker because it conveys complaints and requests without criticism or blame. dr Gottman says, “This requires a mental transformation from what’s wrong with one’s partner to what one’s partner can make work. the speaker is really saying, ‘This is what I feel and what I need from you’.”
rekindle sexual chemistry
During the early phase of marriage, many couples barely come up for air due to the excitement of falling in love. Unfortunately, this state of happiness does not last forever. Scientists have discovered that oxytocin (a bonding hormone) released during the initial stage of falling in love makes couples feel euphoric and aroused by physical contact. it actually works like a drug, giving us immediate rewards that bind us to our lover.
holding hands, cuddling, and tender touching are all great ways to affirm your love for your partner. physical affection sets the stage for sexual contact that focuses on pleasure. sex therapist and educator dr. micheal stysma recommends that you set a goal of doubling the amount of time you kiss, hug, and use sensual touch if you want to improve your marriage.
Sexual attraction is difficult to maintain over time. For example, Kendra and Jason lack passion because they are unwilling to give up control and show vulnerability. as a result, they avoid sex and rarely touch each other. Sex therapist Laurie Watson says, “Most sexual concerns stem from an interpersonal struggle in a marriage.”
gottman relationship coach, the world’s first comprehensive relationship wellness tool, takes the guesswork out of improving your relationship. Measure the health of your relationship with a research-based self-assessment, then receive a personalized digital relationship plan proven to heal and strengthen your connection.
here are 10 tips to bring back the passion in your marriage:
1. change your pattern of sexual initiation
perhaps you are denying your partner or becoming too strong. avoid criticizing each other and stop the “blame game”. Mix things up to end the power struggle. For example, Estrangers may want to engage in sexual initiation more often, and Persecutors try to find ways to subtly tell their partner “you’re sexy” while avoiding criticism and demands for closeness.
2. hold hands more often
according to the author dr. kory floyd, holding hands, hugging, and touching each other can release oxytocin and cause a sense of calm. studies show that it is also released during sexual orgasm. Additionally, physical affection reduces stress hormones, which lowers daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
3. allow tension to build up
Our brains experience more pleasure when the anticipation of the reward continues for some time before we receive it. so take your time during foreplay, share fantasies, change locations and make sex more romantic.
4. separate sexual intimacy from routine
plan private time and avoid talking about relationship problems and housework in the bedroom. sexual arousal plummets when we’re distracted and stressed.
5. make time to spend with your partner
Try a variety of activities that bring pleasure to both of you. have fun courting and practice flirting as a way to ignite sexual desire and intimacy. dr gottman says that “everything positive you do in your relationship is foreplay.”
6. focus on affectionate touch
Offer to give your partner a back or shoulder massage. People associate foreplay with sex, but touching is a powerful way to show and rekindle passion, even if you’re not a maudlin person.
7. practice being more emotionally vulnerable during sex
Share your innermost desires, fantasies and desires with your partner. if you fear emotional intimacy, consider engaging in individual or couples therapy.
8. maintain a sense of curiosity about sexual intimacy
Experiment with new ways to bring pleasure to each other. see sex as an opportunity to get to know your partner better over time.
9. the type of sex you have varies
have soft, loving-tender, intimate and highly erotic sex. break the routine and try new things as sexual needs change.
10. make sex a priority
Set the mood for intimacy before TV or work snuffs out your passion. a light meal along with your favorite music and wine can set the stage for some great sex.
Even if you’re not a picky person, increasing physical affection and emotional attunement can help you maintain a deep and meaningful bond.
The good news is that allowing your partner to influence you can rekindle the spark you once enjoyed. 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 acquainted with each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams are successful couples.”
For more ideas on how to rekindle the passion in your relationship, subscribe to gottman’s relationship blog below: