Last week I saw six couples. The majority of them were trying to make their relationship better. One of the couples is struggling with the feeling that the marriage is dying. During the session, the wife turned to the husband and said the 10 dreaded words; I love you, but am not IN LOVE with you. This means different things to different people, but to this woman’s husband it meant the marriage was over. It meant that she no longer saw the man she once did when she looked at him. As the therapist, it meant restoring this marriage would take action and it had to begin now. It also meant that this woman was ready to face an ultimatum. She pulled out her big gun. She knew that by saying this, her husband would take notice and pay attention. She knew how to say, “I am ready to walk if you cannot change.” The truth is they both have to change or their marriage will not survive.
A book just released titled “Stop calling him honey and have sex” is written on the concept that familiarity and taking each other for granted kills lust and passion. The authors of the book, Maggie Arana and Julienne Davis, explain that sharing the same bathroom habits, calling each other sweet names, and knowing each other too well can cause feelings of desire to disappear. As this couple talked about their habits, I began to see several of the changes that had to be made. The wife thought her husband could read her mind and became very angry when he would ask her what was wrong. One of the things that irritated her most and took away her desire was when he came home from work and changed into old tattered clothes. The guy is a professional and dresses in a suit every day. When he wears a suit, she is turned on. She equates his suit with power and that elevates her sex drive. When he wears old clothes, he loses his sex appeal. He calls her honey and dear. She feels like these words sound motherly and not sexy. She wants a man to call her “lusty names.” Once again, he is supposed to know this. Lastly and perhaps her biggest problem, is she doesn’t like being asked for a hug or kiss. She wants him to grab her and hug or kiss her. She feels like her husband is too polite. During our session, her husband admitted to being totally unaware of any of these concerns. He said he had no idea. She was upset because she said she told him, but he never listens which is probably another reason she feels like she is not in love with him anymore.
To date, more of my female clients use this term, “I love you, but am not in love with you” than men do. I believe men may feel this way, but I don’t think men would be as quick to distinguish between the types of love. Below are a few suggestions for getting lust back into your relationship.
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1. Talk to your partner. If you are thinking you prefer to hint then prepare to be disappointed. Men prefer direct communication, and women assume the worse if they aren’t told directly. Not telling your partner how you feel is dishonest as well as manipulative. No one can read your mind.
2. Begin partaking in novel experiences together. Try downhill skiing or take a class together. Novel experiences build desire because you get to see your partner in a new way.
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