When the Honeymoon Phase Ends...And How to Get it Back

When you first meet and fall in love with someone, it is exhilarating. It feels fun, new, and exciting, and there is a spark, passion, fireworks even! You’re sending thoughtful texts, saying all the right things, taking time to bring your best self to the table to make a good impression. Maybe you care a little more about how you dress, how you smell, how you look, your breath, keeping a clean car, having good manners during a date. Maybe you shave more often, fix your hair, get a wax or a manicure. Maybe you seduce your partner with sexy words, thoughts, or pictures, or activities. Perhaps you wear that sexy little negligee or spontaneously pounce.

So you decide to get married. And maybe have kids. And then you're trying to cram sex into a 15 minute window after the kids are asleep, with leg stubble, before the exhaustion or headaches set in. And all of a sudden, you're at the place you swore you’d never be and realize that the honeymoon is over.

It is totally natural and normal for our romantic relationships to take a backseat, especially after responsibilities, mortgages, and kids are in the scene (much less the daily wear and tear of life).

But the honeymoon phase can be revitalized with one word: EFFORT.

In the beginning, if we had a date planned, we had days to sit and think about it. What will I wear? Where will we go? What will we do? Where will we eat? Who will make the first move? What will we talk about? Will he propose? Will she let me get to third base? Etc. We have time to create anticipation! We get to wonder, fantasize, percolate, simmer, creating an intoxicating concoction for the psyche and the libido.

In the beginning, you put forth effort.

Planning the right date or activity.

Telling your partner how excited you are and are looking forward to time together.

Not being caught dead with hairy legs.

Making sure you don’t pass gas or let your date watch you poop.

Opening doors or pulling out chairs.

Not complaining when she orders the more expensive dessert or wine.

Making sure you're turned into your date/partner and not zoned out on your phone, sitting in silence.

Being kind, charming, considerate.

Asking about shared hobbies, interests, how their day went, what they want in life.

Refraining from talking about unsexy stuff like your hemorrhoid, debt, or the color of your child’s snot.

It is no wonder that one of the most common problems we see in our office is boredom, feeling like roommates, feeling no passion or romance, and like the honeymoon phase is over.

That is a really scary place to be because then you may wonder:

  • Is this as good as it gets?
  • Is something wrong?
  • Are we normal?
  • Is my partner un-attracted to me?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Why don’t I have any desire in me?
  • Why aren’t we having sex?
  • I love my partner, but maybe we aren't in love anymore.
  • I wish it was how it used to be.
  • Maybe I married the wrong person.
  • Maybe monogamy isn’t for me.

 

Or maybe you:

  • Flirt with friends or coworkers.
  • Consider an affair.
  • Work more.
  • Hook up with someone else.
  • Keep it a secret and hope for the best.
  • Start nagging your partner to be more romantic.
  • Start pressuring your partner for more sex.
  • Drink or smoke more, or partake in recreational drug use.
  • Feel disconnected.
  • Start fighting.
  • Stop having sex altogether.
  • Try to use new positions and toys to spice things up.
  • Resort to porn and more frequent masturbation.

 

This is just a small list. Keeping the honeymoon phase alive or revitalizing it requires being mindful. Ensuring we stop falling into roles that don’t allow a sex life to exist...roles that fuel regrets, nostalgia from the past, things that you miss because you’re now parents. We must put in EFFORT to make sure that we don’t become too familial with a lover. Nobody has to be a martyr, you’re not sacrificing the sexual part of yourself just because you're no longer singer, young, free, and so forth. No need to give up that part of your life. It just takes work to keep it an adventure with your lover.

Esther Perel, a well-known couples and sex therapist, refers to this as “mating in captivity.” In fact, she wrote a book called “Mating in Captivity.” Basically, we can’t take each other for granted. Domesticity, responsibility, safety, security, comfort, companionship all make for a great marriage, but leave little room for eroticism. And we wonder why the romance fizzles. We have to learn to balance stability and spontaneity. If you're mating in captivity and feel like you're in this “cage” with your partner, rather than being pissed that you're in the cage with only one other person, consider where within the cage can you roam? What can do you do within this space? How can you get creative? Can you swing from this tree over here? Or jump on that stump over there?

Consider this a new beginning. Would you want to date you? What advice would you give your best friend who came to you with this problem? How do you treat each other now verses when you were first dating? I guarantee there was more effort involved. And if putting in work sounds tiring, just know, it is more work and more uncomfortable to stay in a crappy place sexually than it is to do and try fun new things.

So go out there, put in some effort, bring your best self to the table. Consider sex therapy.

If you want some help getting started or want to see if you're on the right track, call us to make an appointment at 678-796-8255, or schedule email coaching, book online, or request a free consultation with our sex therapist.

 

The Thing You're Doing That's Killing Your Sex Life

I often hear my female clients say  “My husband is like having another child.”  “I have to tell him how to do everything: how to load the dishwasher the right way, remind him about his doctor appointments, tell him where the kid’s pajamas are, or tell him how much money is in our bank account, or that he should stop looking at his phone (porn/video games/etc) all The time and look at me instead.”

I often hear my male clients say “My wife nags me and is always on my ass. It seems like I can’t do anything right. If I help out with the kids, I didn’t do it her way or the RIGHT way, if I ask how to do it to please her, she's mad that I don’t just know how to do it, and if I don’t do it at all, then I’m really screwed. I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”

(Sometimes we see these roles reversed, but this is the example we are using for the sake of the point we are about to make.)

Does it feel like you have to parent your spouse? Or does it feel like you spouse is policing and critiquing your every move? Then, this is for you.

If you get caught up in mommying or daddying your partner, or treating them like an employee, then it is KILLING your libido. Who wants to have sex with a micromanaging boss? Or their parent? It is a total turn off. Wives end up emasculating their husbands (cutting their testicles off) and the husbands end up making their wives feel like they are lackluster employees or little girls getting scolded by the principle. This leaves us to respond in 1 of 2 ways:  we either get compliant to “please” or we want to “rebel.” Both of which are major boner killers (lady boners included).

So, without getting offended,  I ask you to consider how might you be parenting your spouse, treating them like a child, infantilizing them, protecting them? The result is almost always a power struggle which leads to conflict and discord both in and out of the bedroom.

Learning to have difficult conversations as adults means we have to stop acting like toddlers and start acting like grown ups so that we can start negotiating as LOVERS, which is what you were to begin with anyway, right? This means we have to learn how to ask for our wants and needs to be met without DEMANDING or setting unrealistic expectations that are rigid and don’t allow for any flexibility. If you want a lover  or An equal, you have to dig deep and be willing to examine what responses, actions, and reactions you have that create the opposite effect. And for what it’s worth, we all have a little work to do it this department. The really hard part is being willing to do the work.

“But doing the work feels like effort! I’m already tapped out!”

I get it. And totally understand that it does seem like effort you invest with possible little or questionable return on your investment. However, I challenge you…. whatever you're doing now also takes a lot of effort. Staying stuck, mad, frustrated, unappreciated, unhappy, unloved, unsexy, bored and fighting about it is draining your energy and sucking the life out of you and the sex out of your relationship. Sitting in a dry desert without any water is hard. Walking to a water source when you’re wilted and exhausted is hard. But finally drinking some fresh, cool water is revitalizing and worth it to be revitalized. I promise you, sitting in the dry Desert, thirsty, is much harder. Don’t be afraid of the work if it will breathe life, love, and romance back into your relationship.

In the meantime, be aware of your actions, reactions, and interactions with your partner. Are you angry? Frustrated? Why? Are you going into mommy-mode/daddy-mode or playing cop? Can you express your feelings, needs, wants clearly, kindly, and without blame or critique? Can do you it in a way that doesn't create emotional contagion that runs rampant and uproots the good seeds that have been planted?

Feel like you need some help with this? Unsure of how to talk as lovers instead of parents? Want to feel like lovers again? One of our marriage therapists or sex therapists can help you learn how to level the playing field and rev your sex life back up! Call today at 678-796-8255, schedule online, or inquire about affordable email options to get started!

 

The Question You Need to Stop Asking if You Want to Have More Sex

We hear it all the time in our office: My partner isn’t interested in sex. But the problem isn’t what you think...

How to Deal When Conflict is Hard

Conflict in relationships is one of those things that gets a bad reputation. Much like discomfort or pain. We sometimes mistakenly assume that relationships should not have moments of conflict, despair, frustration, discomfort, or pain. It is important that we learn what conflict really means so that we can deal with it accordingly. Typically in couples dynamics, conflict is not usually the problem we face, it is knowing how to deal with it in a way that doesn’t create calamity in our relationships. To have conflict is to be normal. But to avoid conflict, discomfort or pain is to sabotage an opportunity for growth. Conflict is really just growth trying to happen in your relationship.

7 Ingredients of Trust

Trust is often seen as this big thing that we either have or we don’t. Someone has either earned it, or they haven’t. Trust is sometimes seen as one of those things we have, until it is lost or betrayed. Or it is something we can’t know that we have until someone has taken the necessary steps to ensure they are, in fact, trustworthy. Researchers have begun to explore the anatomy of trust and what ingredients make up trust. Whether you’re starting a new relationship, revitalizing an old one, or trying to recover from betrayal or infidelity, it can be helpful to know how to measure trust, what to look for, and how to detect what’s missing and what can thus be worked on.

The New Year’s Resolution You’ll Want to Make...and Keep!

Here we are, in the midst of a brand new year. The rush of the holidays have passed, we are financially recovering from our excess spending, physically recovering from too many holiday treats, and emotionally recovering from too much hustle and bustle or too much time with family members that we, uhhh, prefer to enjoy less time with. The new year marks a new start, a fresh beginning, and an opportunity to better ourselves. We often focus on resolutions like hitting up the gym, quitting smoking, saving more money, or living life to the fullest. But, how often do we make relational goals with our lovers? Why not shift our focus this year to also attending to our relationships?

Makeover Your Relationship This Week

Feeling a bit at odds with your mate? Like you’ve been at each others’ throats about small, trivial things? You may wish your partner was less irritable, more enjoyable, and more fun--like they used to be. But, it can feel like a daunting task and downright powerless to sit around hoping and waiting for the other person to change, especially after you’ve repeated yourself over and over again. While there aren't any quick-fixes, here are some simple, but effective strategies that YOU can implement turn your relationship around this week.

When You Want to Stop Couples Counseling

As couples therapists here at our center, we devote our professional careers to helping couples restore, re-ignite, and rejuvenate their relationships to their former glory and beyond. We are committed to helping couples who feel like they are in a relationship “crisis” or a really rocky place get to a place that feels “good.” And other times, we help couples who are feeling “good” get to a place that feels “great.” Often times that is attainable, and other times, we therapists have our own challenges when a couple decides to end the relationship. We can often see lots of deep, meaningful, and “great” work to still be done, and yet we sometimes will hear the thing we don’t want to hear: “We have decided to end things, so we won’t be coming back to therapy.” This decision might make sense to you, but marriage counselors aren’t just here for those who are married. We can do great work even when you decide to split. Here are some things that we therapists wish you knew before you decide to cold-turkey the therapeutic relationship.

Couples Therapy: A Solution for Anxiety and Depression?

Imagine you’re happily coupled up in a wonderful relationship that you find satisfying and fulfilling. Now, imagine that your partner tells you they love you, but they’re no longer in love with you, or that they’re seeing someone else, or that they want out of the relationship. How might you feel? Worried? Upset? Devastated? Betrayed? Confused? Angry? Brokenhearted? Now, imagine that you’re naturally anxious or depressed but you are in a relationship with someone who can calm you in the storm, will have your back and support you, can bring you back from the edge, and can understand you even in the midst of your emotional pain. If relationship distress can have a negative impact on our emotional and physical health, can’t it be possible that secure relationships can have a positive impact on our emotional and physical health? Research and revolutionary science of romantic love is now suggesting that secure bonds are vital when we are struggling.

When Relationships End: Who Can Help?

Often times, couples are broken into a few different categories:

  • those who are together and happy
  • those who are together and unhappy but are trying to repair the relationship
  • those who are together, unhappy, and are not sure what they want to do (and are "stuck")
  • and then those who have made the decision to end the relationship.

As couples therapists, we usually work with clients in the first 3 categories. But, who works with those who are ending a relationship, are going through a breakup or divorce, or are trying to get back on track after a relationship has ended? A marriage therapist can still be a great type of counselor to consider. 

Will My Therapist Tell Me to Divorce?

So, you may be thinking about marriage or couples counseling and have started looking for a therapist. Finding the right fit can be confusing and sometimes a bit of a challenge, especially if you don't know what to expect. Many clients are nervous that when they finally do meet with their therapist, they will be met with some kind of fate about the relationship and that they will possibly hear something they don't want to. This is extremely normal and common for many individuals and couples pursuing therapy. If you're wondering if a therapist will tell you what to do regarding your relationship, then we have an answer for you.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

We begin serious relationships and marriages with the intention that it will last forever. We are hopeful, excited, in love. There is honesty, good communication, passion. We think it will always be this way. So, when you realize that your relationship is not what it used to be or not what you hoped it would turn out like, we naturally begin to ask ourselves “is this as good as it gets?” I get it. It seems like you’ve tried everything and nothing works. It may feel like your partner doesn’t communicate well, or doesn’t understand you, or doesn’t even care to change. You may begin to feel like you’re miserable and can’t help but wonder if it will always be this way or how much longer you can do this, eventually asking yourself “should I stay in this relationship or end it?” Can you relate to this? If so, here are a few tips to consider to help you make your decision.

When to Apologize and How to Do it Well

Apologizing is no easy feat. I work with many couples, families, and individuals who are hurting, and want their loved ones to recognize their hurt, and expect an apology in some capacity. But, why is apologizing so hard to do? And if we don’t mean it, should we still apologize? We have conceptualized apologizing as a vehicle for admitting we are wrong,  smoothing things over, or giving in, any of which signify that we may be weak. Contrary to popular belief, it takes great strength and courage to dare to apologize, and here is guide for when to do it, and how to do it well.

9 Communication Traps to Avoid

The majority of couples that I work with (and even individuals) tell me that communication is a struggle for them. Either they don’t feel heard or understood, or they can’t keep a simple disagreement from escalating to unhealthy levels, or they feel like what they say isn’t important. HOW you argue is more important that HOW OFTEN you argue. If you have daily spats, but are able to address them quickly and create a resolve, that can be more healthy than arguing once a month, but never resolving the issue and communicating in a way that harms the relationship. One of the first steps in learning to communicate clearly and effectively is understanding what to eliminate in your communication style.

BENEFITS OF PREMARITAL COUNSELING

As a couples and marriage therapist, there is one area of the field that I wish was more popular: premarital counseling. I cringe a little bit inside every time I hear a couple say they don’t need pre-marital counseling because: “we never argue,” or “we get along so well,” or “we agree on almost everything,” or “we are just so happy already.” While that may be true, premarital counseling can be very effective in setting the tone for how resilient your marriage is when those tough waves come rolling in. Premarital counseling can help you prepare for your marriage, and not just the wedding. The wedding lasts for one day, but the marriage is intended to last forever.

HOW DOES PREMARITAL COUNSELING WORK?

If you are recently engaged, approaching engagement, or considering marriage to your partner, you may have heard of pre-marital counseling. These days, it is not uncommon for pastors or certain churches to require it of couples before they walk down the aisle together. If you are wondering how it works, or what to expect from the process, here is a glimpse into how I work with premarital couples.

HOW DOES COUPLES THERAPY WORK?

Perhaps you’re considering working with a couples therapist to improve your relationship, but may be wondering how it works. Here’s a bit about what you can expect to learn when you work with a therapist that specializes in working with couples and relationships.

WHAT HAPPENS IN COUPLES THERAPY?

Considering couples therapy or new to the counseling process? It is normal to be scared and nervous if you’ve never done it before and don’t know what to expect, or if you’ve been to counseling before but are now working with a new therapist.It would likely be helpful if you had some insight to what really happens in couples therapy. While each therapist may be a bit different in their approach, this is just an idea of what it could look like based on how things go when I work with couples. Here is some of what you can expect if you are considering couples therapy.

MARRIAGE COUNSELING EFFECTIVENESS

I often get asked “does marriage counseling work?” The short answer is: yes, it absolutely can. I also hear many spouses who call me say “I want to come, but my spouse doesn’t want to/doesn’t believe in it/doesn’t think it’ll work/doesn’t want to tell our business to everyone.” The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy suggests marriage counseling helps 7 out of 10 couples find great satisfaction in their marriages. But, success and effectiveness in therapy depends on a few factors. Knowing these can make the difference.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF MARRIAGE COUNSELING

Feeling nervous or uncertain about marriage counseling? Are you looking for some guarantee that you'll see changes? Worried about putting the fate of your relationship solely in the hands of a stranger? You're not alone! Today, I'd like to share with you some tips on how to get the most out of marriage counseling. These secrets can give you more control in your marriage counseling experience so that you can increase your chances of seeing changes more quickly and getting the results you want.