When the thrill has left your marriage

Dear Bloggers,

Let me make one thing clear straight away. I am in a relationship for 20 years with the same women. Although the love is still there it is not that sparkling anymore as in the beginning. A lot of couples around me experience the same thing and in several cases this has ended into a divorce. Or what I think is even worse that some of them will start a double life by having a girl- or boyfriend next to their spouse and kids.

I have been wondering about this issue as I don’t understand why these people are doing this, is it pure lust or is it because their love turned into something like hate? Why does this happen? Does it solve your problems or do you get into even more trouble if you try to find back the old spark? If I should believe what they are writing in articles about this. You will not find any men’s magazines about this issue. 

Generally speaking, magazine articles about how to improve your sex life, especially in marriage or a long-term relationship contain the same advice: candles, hot baths and soft music are often invoked. The question is why your partner loses interest in having sex with you.
That may be because these “better sex” stories are a pile of women’s magazines. I don’t know about you, but candles always make me think of church, baths are something my mother made me take, and soft music reminds me of going to the dentist. Definite all of them are turn-offs.

But how do you regain the passion in your relationship when you feel it's slipping away? Is it possible? Or when that train has left the station, is it too late to bring it back?
“A lot of people get to that point and have to decide what to do about it,” at least that is what I think. “Novelty is sexually interesting to most people -- not always to the point that they will act on it, but the idea has a little bit of a thrill to it, for men or women.”

In dealing with  my own marriage and we have been together for a while,more than twenty years. “Sometimes with a long-term partner, a person feels like they know every freckle on that other person’s body.”  The solution may lie in exploring the unfamiliar part though not necessarily.

“For some people, predictability is very exciting,” for example having sex on a Wednesday night for others this does not work at all. “You have to figure out if you’re a ‘surprise’ or ‘predictability’ person. If you’re a surprise person, asking your partner to surprise you is a good first step. If you’re a predictability person, and there is something predictably bad or neutral about your sexual experience, getting some changes in there can be a positive thing.”

Those same darn women’s magazines often offer intimacy as the tonic to save the foundering sex life. You’ve drifted apart, and that is where the logic goes. Take interest in his life, his work, his recreation, even if it’s watching retired athletes. Yelling at each other about which programme should be seen on TV. But there is a fine line between being cared for and being under stress.

“Sometimes too much closeness stifles desire,”  would I say.  We had less trouble in the days when I was sailing: “Separateness is a precondition for connection. When intimacy collapses into fusion, it is not a lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire." Don’t call each other ten times a day and don’t ask each other about every little thing. “These questions turn intimacy into surveillance.” And this is defenitly a killer for your relation.

Sometimes a man’s lack of desire is really about something else. “In those situations there is often something going on that is unexpressed or unknown. Most often, it comes down that lack of attraction stems from anger. Perhaps your anger is misplaced; perhaps you are angry at her because you are not attracted to her. You can get to the source of your anger and beyond in therapy. But getting down to getting down is the relationship equivalent of advanced physics.

“You have to be able to experience conflicting feelings, or difficult feelings,” I would call it  the rapprochement process. “If you are holding yourself back all the time, you don’t have to face what you might be feeling. But if you get close to her in bed and if you get aroused, there might be a lot of conflicting stuff that comes up in your head. You want to be with her, you want to make her happy......but on the other side you are angry with her.” To get past the anger, and on to the fun part, you have to be willing to let down your guard, and let love in.

There’s nothing wrong with candles and baths -- or, for that matter, lingerie and scented oils. Those are all stand-ins for the little signals most couples have. Most couples signals are subtler: being in bed and awake at the same time, reaching out to one another on a weekend morning, making some gesture.

You may pine for the days of spontaneity that you enjoyed when your relationship was young  making love at odd hours, in the least likely places, just because you felt like it. But if you have small children, and both having a career, and the usual laundry list of responsibilities, the chances of you spontaneously hooking up without some planning are about like the chance of your playing in the national soccer team, when you’re over 40. And white. It takes a little doing to have a passion in marriage.

There is nothing wrong with planning to have sex, is there? Thinking about it ahead of time might just get you in the mood, just as thinking about what you’re going to eat before you go to a good restaurant only whets the appetite. And don’t be so sure that you know that woman that you’re with. In her work there might be someone more atractive that is how it goes with long married couples, I have found out that I don’t always know what creates sexual arousal in my long-term partner.

I try and lay out my own idiosyncrasies -- what 'does it' for me or what did it for her when we were younger and at our first dates,” What I try to say is: “There is often a moment of revelation: ‘I always thought you liked that!’ Or, ‘I always thought you hated that!’ And it’s often based on something the other person said 20 years ago when you tried something once. So you closed off one portion of sexual experimentation or behavior because of one errant comment.”

A lot can happen in those intervening years. Isn’t it time you found out what’s going on beneath the surface? 
I did not find all the answers yet.

The Old Sailor,


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