Love

Why Passion May Fade — 4 Ways To Spark And Sustain Your Fervor

Photo: simona pilolla / shutterstock.com
middle age couple laughing, woman riding on her husband's back

As you’ll see later on, there is plenty of expert advice for sustaining the fervor if passion begins to fade in any relationship you value. Since your time and energy are precious, this article focuses on direct action using fresh kindling for the fires.

Then, you’ll have additional tools, insight and inspiration for continuing to ignite your situation; integrate your own ideas with the experts’ and suggestions here for using the four Cs.

But first, let’s be frank about the realities related to passion and fervor. The good and bad news come together. The passion that you initially experience and remember will fade because nothing stays exactly the same over time — and if it did, how boring and limiting life would be.

Poignantly, many close relationships suffer from the very thing that creates their glue: the comfort of long-term predictability and rhythms. This is based on routine and repetition as well as even the implicit trust that both may bring.

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Reality bites — and change is inevitable

In marriage as well as similar commitments that have sexual aspects, the very things that bring comfort also contain dangers. They can include boredom, decrease in interest and possibly eventual dissolution of the relationship.

Instead of labeling passion as fading, though, how about accepting that it can change as most things do with time. That avoids the self-fulfilling prophecy of behaviors that make that so.

Part of this dynamic includes distracting and sometimes unfair blaming and shaming, directed at the other person or oneself. As you know, capacities vary with experience, mood and age. Nor do psychological and physical states remain exactly the same, especially given what’s happening in each person’s life and these gyrating economic, political and social times.

RELATED: 8 Tender Ways To Rekindle Passion And Intimacy In Your Relationship

Passion is naturally vulnerable

As you consider what’s in motion in your lives now, imagine how that relates to any of the following themes. Such insights are a way of identifying and discussing specific influences on the expression of passion in your relationship.

  • Uncertainties and the discomfort they bring in each person’s life create internal shifts in attitudes and expectations. When these perspectives are not shared by couples, opportunities to shore up trust and keep one another current about concerns and issues may be lost.
  • Physical and mental health matters related to aspects of depression and anxiety have been exacerbated by the pandemic, now converting to endemic proportions. Not everyone experiences such aspects in the same way at the same time. So, few people sustain a steady state given timing and variability of experience in vulnerabilities and losses. 
  • Work and social situations are in flux, from conventional interpersonal interaction to work design and locations.
  • Practical distractions and responsibilities of daily home and family care that continue.

How would you describe the main two or three influences that disrupt or vary your fervor? How will you benefit from discussing them?

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The power dynamic of a relationship

Another matter that emerges from these situations in motion relates to the power equilibrium in your relationship. This is not a “who’s on top” concern as much as what each of you gives to the relationship and what each of you needs and wants.

For example, here are related factors to choose among and possibly explore together:

  • Time availability and flexibility
  • Money
  • Attention to family beyond your immediate ones
  • Habits that annoy or thwart progress (e.g. chore sharing)
  • Conflict resolution processes
  • Plans for the future

As a possible script and deeper exploration for discussion over time, visit this epic promise of the vows, wedding and otherwise, that can keep your conversation in play.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Resolve Conflict In Your Relationship When You're Sick And Tired Of Fighting

Embrace modest actions for improvement

Maybe discussing all this seems too demanding right now. Instead, I’ll keep my simpler promise at the start of this article with the following processes.

Consider and adopt these four Cs — courage, control, curiosity, capability — to keep sustaining the fervor in your passion:

  • The courage to say what you mean and mean what you say, of course with grace and good timing.
  • The willingness to share control in intriguing, empathetic and fair ways.
  • The curiosity for continuing to capture what’s going on with the other person and to learn new things, from sexual explorations to the psychology of human development.
  • The capability to perform in pleasing ways and, when that’s not possible, to have the cognitive reserve to create alternatives.

Between you, choose and adapt one of the Cs to start your conversation and actions about sustaining passion and fervor. To begin, how would each of you define
the two words themselves and what they mean to you.

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Explore the experts’ takes

Now, also as promised, here are two experts’ complementary ideas to weave into developing your strategies, opportunities and adventures. First is psychologist John
Gottman PhD
. He uses relationship analysis for divorce prediction and improving marital functioning. He is settled in his third marriage.

Second is Helen Fisher, PhD, a biological anthropologist who is a Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University. Content of her six books includes biology, psychology of human sexuality, monogamy, adultery, divorce, gender differences in the brain, and the neural chemistry of romantic love. She married in later life after two long-term relationships. 

An advisor to Match.com, Fisher writes of sustaining “positive illusions” about your partner and “love blindness” in Romantic Love: Can It Last?

An artful way to turn reality positive

I often turn to the arts for inspiration and hope this view is an appealing one for you as well. Apply to a loved one this Japanese idea of the beauty of imperfection. It can describe something, or someone, used so well that it evolves to its own kind of loveliness.

This is “Wabi.” To me, it captures what happens when fervor and passion are expressed with class, care and commitment in a relationship of mutual value over time. Especially its imperfections wear well for everyone and bring a variety of unique joys. I believe shared humor adds strong scaffolding for supporting passion and fervor as well.

RELATED: When Conversation Stirs Chemistry — When To Go All-In And When To Stop Talking

Ruth Schimel Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. She guides clients in accessing their strengths and making visions for current and future work viable. Obtain the bonus first chapter of her recently available seventh book, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future and benefit from your invitation to a free consultation on her website.

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