Nora loved her husband of 30 years and considered herself happily married. And yet she wished the sex was more frequent and passionate. She had tried a few tricks to spice things up over the years. There was the lingerie phase and after that the sex toy phase. She even tried to develop a taste for porn so she and her husband could watch it together. For awhile, things would improve and she was sure she had found the solution. But a few weeks or months later, things would be back to the same boring routine. What could she do to rebirth the romance in her marriage?
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Beverly was on her second marriage. After fifteen years, she was watching this relationship devolve into the same frustrating patterns she saw in her first marriage. Her husband no longer seemed all that interested in what she had to say. He had a habit of watching a lot of television every night after work and he would often have two or three drinks as well, falling asleep in front of the TV without once asking her about her day. Beverly was feeling very lonely even though her husband was home every night and they still slept in the same bed. He still wanted to have sex about once a week but it seemed he had forgotten what foreplay is. After five or ten minutes of kissing and fondling, he would try to stick "it" in her. Intercourse never lasted more than five minutes and he fell asleep right afterwards. She hadn't had an orgasm in so long she couldn't remember what it felt like. But more than anything, she wanted to talk, to connect, to feel something besides lonely. When were they going to talk about anything? How could Beverly hope to get out of this soul killing routine?
Jim and Samantha had never married but they had shared a home for over ten years. When they first met, they never ran out of things to talk about. Just the sound of each other's voices would often light a romantic fire it seemed could never die. And now, after only a decade together, they didn't have much to say to each other. They were spending more and more time hanging out with their respective friends and coming home later and later. When in bed together, they would text friends and ignore each other. This was not how they envisioned sharing their lives but it seemed they were too busy to share much besides the household chores and the bills. It was beginning to feel like they were just roommates. What happened to that fire that could never die?
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Do you relate to any of these stories? My clients bring me heartbreaking stories like these every week. They are usually at their wits end, depressed, confused, angry and sad. They still love their partner and want to find a way to make it work but so far nothing they have tried has worked. Wisely, they decide to ask a professional for a fresh perspective instead of simply enduring the unacceptable or terminating the relationship.
Couples who are willing to learn new habits and embrace change have the highest success rate. Affixing blame, defending one's behavior and attempting to change and/or control one's partner is the pattern which is least likely to result in a positive outcome.