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.