You may have wondered why I often recommend rekindling the passion in your relationship. Maybe you think you can’t even stand being in the same room as your partner, never mind letting him have sex with you!
There’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you allow eroticism back into a stalled relationship. It’s based on the principle “act as if.” It shows up repeatedly and I have never seen a couple with whom it has not worked.
I typically recommend having sex for seven days in a row to jump start the process. However, if your relationship has deteriorated to the point where neither of you is willing to start there, I have some other suggestions.
Make a list of 10-15 small gestures your partner can make that will let you know he cares about you. Ask him to do the same thing. Often when we’re trying to reconnect with our partner, we do things for him that we want done to us. Sometimes those things are meaningless or even annoying to him. When that happens, it sets another downward spiral into motion. For example, I would like my partner to load the dishwasher without being asked. So I might let the dishes pile up, and then when he doesn’t load them I will. But in the meantime, I become irritated that the dishes are piling up. When I load them, I slam the dishes around and mutter under my breath about what a slob he is… see? Your guy is NOT a mind reader, and it’s not fair to expect him to know what you want.
Once you each have your lists, sit down together and read each other’s list. Don’t judge the things on the lists. I recommend that you make an agreement to do at least one thing on the lists for each other every day for two weeks. Inevitably, some of the things on your list will be challenging for him, and vice versa. Just start with one of the easier things instead. Some examples might be: give me a 10 second hug when you come home from work, kiss me good-bye in the morning (even if you think I’m asleep), remember to put the toilet seat down, and scratch my back for two minutes. They don’t have to be big tasks! And yes, you can repeat some of the things, but make your best effort to get to everything.
This is not a barter agreement, by the way. You focus on your job, which is to let your partner know you care about him in ways that are meaningful to him. If you wait to do yours until he’s done his, your mind will rebel and the entire exercise won’t work.
There are many reasons why an exercise like this works to bring couples closer together. When you give or receive something comforting (like a 10 second hug), it releases oxytocin into your system, which is a hormone that makes you feel more connected to the person who is either receiving or giving the comfort. On another level, when you consistently engage in loving acts, your nervous system resets itself to both want to give more and relax into receiving. And lastly, the part of your brain that sees everyone as either a danger or someone to trust will begin to see your partner once more as someone to trust. Once that part of your brain begins to trust him again, it will make it easier for you to be intimate again.
After two weeks of this exercise, sit down together and talk about what it was like for each of you. Decide if you want to make new lists or if you might be ready for the seven days of sex.