What happened to our spark?

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by Susan Prosser on July 14, 2009

Dear Susan,

We have been married for 11 years and have two wonderful children.  I would like to be happier in my marriage and yet it feels like I have fallen out of love with my husband.  There is just no spark anymore and life is humdrum and boring.  We are not fighting or anything but we just go in our own directions and there doesn’t seem to be much there.  I would welcome your thoughts on this.

Dear Reader,

You are not alone.  In fact, the majority of married couples slip into patterns that do not feel good or meaningful.  This is usually because we don’t know how to keep the connection alive and growing.

When we fall in love, hormones bathe our brain and we actually believe that we have met the person of our dreams who will make us happy.  This is the easy phase – anyone can fall in love – the challenging part is staying in love.  When the hormones fade and real life sets in there is usually a power struggle.  We all want our own way and we can’t understand why the person who made us so happy is interfering with what we want.  It is in the working through of this struggle that we learn how to blend lives, give and receive, and to truly love the other.

The concept of falling out of love doesn’t really exist.   Unless we work on staying in love, resentments, boredom, misunderstandings and fears get in the way.  We tend to think that relationships should be easy and natural.  When they are not, we often decide that we are not in love.  We have it backwards.  Relationships are very challenging and it is the working through those challenges that creates bonds and mutual compassion.

Love is not a feeling – it can be and when it is, it is the best feeling in the world, but in truth, love is an action and a decision.  We know this as parents but we forget it as partners.  As a parent I am required on a day-to-day basis to do the best for my child even when it is difficult.  When I am upset with my child I don’t come to the conclusion that I don’t love him/her anymore I just work harder and find solutions.  This is the mindset we need for our intimate relationships.

The person that can hurt us the most is our intimate partner. When we feel hurt or let down we often create a distance or fight.  We must be very careful in how we treat one another.  You and your husband are not fighting but that isn’t necessarily a good sign because it might mean you are not communicating your honest feelings. (I don’t recommend fighting to do that but the absence of fighting could mean distance and that is not any better.) You will have to learn how to communicate your feelings once you have reestablished some connection and time together. 

I urge you to find ways to keep your love alive. 

  •       Remember what turned you on when you met one another and find ways to resurrect some of those activities. 
  •       Keep your sexual life alive and well. Women often find love-making a chore.  Even if you think you have lost your sex drive you probably have not.  A dormant libido needs attention otherwise a part of you weakens and that is not healthy.  Our sexual appetites are just as much a part of us as our other biological needs.
  •       Touch each other often – hold hands while watching television, kiss for 10 seconds and hug for 30 seconds, rub each other’s shoulders and feet, and when you pass each other do a little love tap,
  •       Look into each other’s eyes when you speak,
  •       Laugh often
  •       Talk about things that interest you outside of family life
  •       Find a hobby to do together
  •       Start scheduling times together to relax, have fun, cuddle, make love,  and go on dates

 

For now, you and your husband need to agree to put your relationship on the front burner.  You have both changed in 11 years and you don’t know each other as well as you think.  I recommend reading The Relationship Cure by John Gottman to get you started.  There is practical information that can get you started and questionnaires that can get you talking.

Enjoy the rediscovery of one another and have fun!

 

Susan Prosser is a Wakefield resident, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, therapist, nurse, educator, and concerned citizen. Got a relationship question? Email her at susan@lowdown@lowdownonline.com