Note: This is the first of a two-part series.
Dear Neil: I’ve been married for eight years and have two children. While my husband was never a very demonstrative person in terms of passion or romance, over the past four years I’ve seen our passion go from a low score to almost zero. Sex is very infrequent (once a month or less), and when it happens it’s without any foreplay and is frequently self-centered. Talking about it, I get excuses like “too tired” or “don’t feel like it.” He is not cheating on me, and is also a very responsible father, son and husband in many ways. Work related stress, very long work hours and being on the phone due to work are some of the issues. The first thing he does in the morning is to check emails on his BlackBerry. Communication between us is mainly to discuss his work, money or kids. I feel dejected and unloved. Please suggest ways to re-ignite the spark so we can start afresh.
Going Without in Virginia
Dear Virginia: Actually there are two separate issues I would like to address. The first relates to how to re-ignite the spark, which I will cover in this column, and the second is about what a woman can do when she finds herself sexually starved—which I will address in next week’s column.
Here are ways to re-ignite the spark, passion and the romance in your relationship:
a.. First, connection is the aphrodisiac. What you described in your letter tells me that the two of you have largely lost that connection. Intimate connection is about creating an emotional atmosphere where there is reciprocal heartful sharing of your inner dreams, your longings, fears, hurts, sensitivities and your vulnerabilities. Although it can also be about money, the kids and work, intimate communication is essentially sharing what you’re feeling and what you dream about.
b.. Second, affection—warm touches, close hugs, kisses, holding hands, cuddling and comforting—is a fabulous kind of foreplay. This would be a great first step in changing the connection between the two of you.
c.. Third, express love verbally every day, which insures that your feelings don’t just stay inside you.
d.. Forth, create time to be alone together. Happy couples understand that time together is the glue that keeps their relationship close and vital, so they make their intimate relationship a top priority, and they don’t spend their “prime time” watching TV or otherwise being preoccupied with other things. They learn how to grow together rather than apart, by doing projects, activities, chores, goals, parenting and recreation together. Clearly this is missing in your relationship. This has to change if the two of you are going to be closer. You would never say to your children, your dog or your plants: “I love you, but I don’t have any time to take care of you, feed you or water you because you’re not my priority. Good luck.” A conversation needs to occur between the two of you reevaluating and renegotiating the priorities in your marriage.
e.. Fifth, you must find ways to have fun together. What can the two of you do in order to create more fun in the relationship? Figure out how to play with each other, and then do it consistently and regularly—or otherwise your intimacy will grow stale and brittle. Try some of the simple things: take a hike together, go to a movie, give each other a massage, go dancing, bring him breakfast in bed during the weekend (and tell him no BlackBerry’s are allowed), take a photography class together, learn to tango, join a doubles tennis league or plan a romantic weekend getaway together.