Valentines Day - a day designed for couples- is a tricky day, not just for singles, who have to deal with the obnoxious over exposure by friends, family and the media around couplehood, but even for couples this can be a heavy day filled with expectation and strife, because Valentines Day (like most holidays) breeds a cultural standard that cause many people to feel inadequate not just about their relationship status but also about their relationships. I personally say bah-humbug to Valentines Day, as I don't believe we should be living our romantic lives based on societies approval structure, but I also encourage couples to use this day in a more -outside-the-box approach. I approach most holidays this way, meaning let's take the good -which typically focuses on strengthing our relationships with family, friends, coworkers or otherwise- and let's drop the bad, which usually is about standards and socieatl expectations.
One of the most common things to happen in long-term relationships, is suffering from the case of “I’m just not attracted to my husband/wife/spouse/partner anymore?” which can make Valentines Day seem like an obligationat best, and a joke at it's worst.
Over time, after a few kids, after a few terrible arguments, after long nights alone wondering how to make this relationship work, wondering what you are doing wrong, or maybe you’ve had a separation or two, perhaps you’ve suffered tragedy together, whatever the case may be, the point being that when you are in a long term relationship together, over time, you will go through a whole lot of changes with your partner, and sometimes the time, and life just seems to erode away at any lust, attraction, romance, passion that you two once used to have. Perhaps you and your partner have tried to address this. Maybe you’ve tried spicing up your relationship by having date night, or maybe you have taken a vacation together to have some alone time, perhaps you’ve even started to see a couples counselor but for some reason it’s just not working the way you think it should. Perhaps you’ve tried things together to help rebuild that bond, and all of a sudden it hits you: You can try all these techniques to try and reconnect with your partner, try to bond to bring back the old feelings, but it’s not working and you’ve come to the conclusion that, “I’m just no longer attracted to him/her.” But, guess what? You don’t want to tell him/her that because that might really rock the boat, shake things up to a place you don’t want it to go. This relationship is important to you, but you are just not feeling it anymore. As a society, one of our defaults is to start thinking about people, others, outside of our relationship, when we just don’t have that spark anymore. This is a time, when cheating and infidelity become a problem.
A) Say goodbye to what once was. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, or maybe it’s just a reminder. We grow and we change, and this means that our relationships must grow and change too. What this means is that the relationship you once had together, remember in the early days of passion, lust, late night phone calls, romance and excitement have now been replaced with security and comfort. It is time to let go of the old relationship. It is time to let go of the idea that it can be the way it once was. Those are fallacies, myths that we choose to hang onto. Yes, do keep the memories of how it used to be alive, and if you need to mourn the old days, but do definitely find a way to say goodbye to what once was.
B) Embrace what is positive in your relationship. This is easy and pretty common therapy-speak. You’ve got the kids, the house, the trust, the extended family, the comfort, the camaraderie, what have you. You know what is great about your relationship so embrace it.
C) Have a sex heart-to-heart. This is my favorite thing in the world, but it's not an easy one, espcially if your pattern is not to talk about sex. Chances are with all the life that has gone on over the years between you two, your communication has become more about the bills, the kids, the annoying colleagues, the pain in the butt sister-in-law and so on. Most people are not honest with their partners about what really rocks their boat. Many people think well, my partner either gets me or they don’t. They either have it or they don’t. Get this notion out of your head. The concept in a sex heart-to-heart is to bear your deepest darkest sexual desires to your partner. You let go of your fears, be vulnerable, and be a little brave. This is key for you and your partner to have an amazing sex life.
This might not be a step you take right away, but it can be something you build up to.
You see, it’s not necessarily important how attracted you are to someone, but rather how skilled they are at meeting your needs. And, if you don’t break your needs down for them, then they are not getting an opportunity to fulfill them for you. No one is born with the capacity to read your mind, to fully know what makes you tick. Give your partner the opportunity to really, I mean, really get to know you, and your most kinky, kinkiest side.
To have a sex heart-to-heart, 1) find a neutral, quiet time to talk. This should not happen during sex, nor during any moment when you are being or getting intimate with your partner. 2) I suggest trying to do this somewhere neutral as well, not necessarily in the bedroom. 3) Tell your partner that lately you have some sexual fantasies you would like to share with, and in turn you hope s/he will share of his/her fantasies with you.
I understand this might be hard, awkward, and embarrassing. Our sexual fantasies are personal, we are not always used to, nor open sharing them with people. This is where you take a deep breath, and commit yourself to being vulnerable, open and honest. Ask yourself if having a deeper intimate connection is important to you? If so go for it. Ideally your partner will follow your lead. And both of you can begin to have real, no holds-barred conversations about sex.
One great way of addressing desires and sexual fantasies in the bedroom is role-play. In role-play you and your partner can play different characters, and actually act out a fantasy that is arousing for you. Other ideas are dirty talk, reading erotica together, exploring use of different sex toys, etc. The list of ways to get creative with your partner is actually extensive.
This sex heart-to-heart is a two-way street. It’s a conversation to get you and your partner started on getting both of your needs met, because neither of you are mind readers. He may want you to play a dominant role, while you are more aroused in a submissive role. The key is to hear your partner, and to take turns meeting each other’s needs, or to find creative ways to meet in the middle.
Just remember, although it may seem awkward, weird or embarrassing at first, it does get easier with time. You should probably have a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th heart-to-heart.
Change doesn't happen over night, but it also cannot happen unless you are willing to rock the boat a little.
Moushumi Ghose is a Sex Therapist, Educator and Coach, Radio Host, Musician, and Filmmaker. She is licensed by the California Board of Behavioral Science. She is a member of AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists). Mou also has extensive experience working with a variety of populations and diverse lifestyles.
Moushumi recently completed an eBook, Marriage, Money and Porn and writes extensively for numerous other sites ranging from Men's Fitness Magazine to GoodTherapy.org. Find her on Twitter @MoushumiAmour, Facebook and her website LASexTherapist.com.