We have been married for 14 and a half years. Our marriage seems to have lost something along the way. It’s like we are two different people that have nothing in common anymore. How do we get back what we once had?
You may not be able to get back to what you once had because neither of you are the same person you were 14 years ago. That doesn’t mean you cannot have something better. However, over the years you two have probably, like many couples, slipped into a routine — who uses the sink when, who takes out the trash, what you watch on TV. Perhaps it even extends to when you have sex. We humans are creatures of habit. Breaking routines and altering patterns take time and tenacity, even when you acknowledge that they are no longer useful.
We all need to be open to adjusting our habits. As with a fire in the fireplace, sometimes you have to poke the logs. Stirring the coals can start a new flicker. Here are a few steps you can take to fan the flame again:
1. Determine if this is an issue for you both or just for you
If he feels the same way as you do, then you can tackle it together. Sit down together during a quiet, uninterrupted time and have a long talk about the present state of your relationship, what your needs and desires are, and what you want the mariage to be. However, before doing so, make sure you both agree to the following rules:
Laugh together. It helps ease tensions if you begin by recalling some great times in your marriage. Playing “remember when” is a great bonding tool.
Hold hands as you talk. Physical contact reinforces the concept that this is something the both of you are invested in resolving.
Guide the conversation lovingly. Keep it a “we” issue, instead of pointing fingers at one another. No one likes confrontation. Many men fear their wives will become overly emotional when they broach a sore topic. So, they don’t. Make sure you each provide a safe environment of tolerance and trust and allow the other to fully speak without interruption.
Do not dredge up past hurts or mistakes during this discussion. That will only build up walls and tear down bridges. It is one thing to clear the air, quite another to wave dirty laundry in your spouse’s face. If you feel you must express a past hurt, define it by expressing your feelings, and not by what he or she did.
Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and figure out each other’s love language. You may be surprised at what really matters to your mate.
2. Is it just your own perception?
If you get a blank stare when you ask your partner if he thinks your marriage has gone flat, then realize you might be the only one who sees the issue — or the only one willing to admit it. If that is the case, then do not hold a grudge. Work on your own attitudes and feelings about the marriage. Let him know that you want to stay married, but that you need time to work through some things. Ask him to be patient with you. Then he will not be hurt or feel impotent in the relationship.
Here are some things you can do to improve the relationship even if your mate is not aware of the need to improve it:
Write down the qualities that attracted you to your mate in the first place. The fact that you state you want to work on your marriage indicates you still love him and see the good in him. That is a great starting point.
What are the things your partner does or says (or doesn’t do or say) that irritate you or make you want to leave the room? Why do you react that way? What can you do to change your reactions or adjust your expectations? How can you express your desires in that area in a non-threatening way?
Keep the positive things about your marriage in the forefront of your mind, especially if irritation arises. Negativity breeds contempt. Once that seed is planted, its roots can entangle your mind and heart. It is worse than trying to weed out a dandelion from your yard. It will take time and constant effort.
Consider counseling or talking to one of our free, confidential online mentors. Voicing your thoughts can be cleansing, and once you get them out in the open, it is easier to view them objectively. We all need someone to talk to now and then who can be objective.
Seek to see things from his point of view. What can you do to spice up your relationship? If you take the initiative, he will hopefully respond. Think of a time you hurt a foot or a hand. For a while, the other limb had to do double duty. Perhaps your husband is having middle age doubts and concerns. He might not be where he thought he’d be professionally or financially as a provider. That can weigh heavily on him and affect your relationship. Or he may be wounded and trying to hide it. Or he might be wary of saying that he feels the same as you or fear that to say so is admitting he has failed you.
Determine if you have drifted apart due to kids, schedules, or life itself. Do you carve out time for regular date nights? Do you schedule time for sexual intimacy? That may sound a bit cold, but today we all lead very busy lives. Make sure you two are making time to make love. Even if you are dead tired at the end of the day, engage in physical contact. Pretty soon, your mind will catch up with your body as you experience each other.
Remember that foreplay doesn’t always have to lead to sex. Couples need intimacy beyond the “act.” Sandwich your day with a kiss and a hug, in the morning and again at night. If the only time you are touching is when one of you needs sex, then you are missing out on some sweet times together.
How often do you pay attention only to him? Sit on the couch with him while he is watching his sports game and snuggle — not to distract him, but to show interest in what he likes. Let him know that he is important to you. Pay more attention to him and he will probably reciprocate.
If you begin to change your attitudes and perceptions about your husband, then within a month or so you may discover the spark is still quite alive. It just needed a bit of fanning. Keep positive and make an effort to keep on loving your mate, despite the pressures of life, work, and family. Who knows what changes that might bring?
It can really help to talk about what you're facing. If you're losing hope for your relationship, please connect with one of our free and confidential mentors through the button below. You don't have to journey alone.
This article was written by: Julie CosgrovePhoto Credit: Sascha Kohlmann