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“I don’t feel passion in my marriage… Is this an unreasonable expectation?”

I don't feel passion in my marriageI don’t feel passion in my marriage

A reader with a thirty year marriage reveals “I don’t feel passion in my marriage,” and asks an interesting question.

She says, “I have reliable and steady, but I want passion, creativity and fun. Our sex life has dropped off to almost nonexistent. I want to find HIM exciting. I have twenty or more marriage books. So, would your book work? Do I really need another marriage book?”

Read her full letter, and my response, below –

I like my husband. He is a good guy. We spend time together. He says thank you for things I do. We work together quite well on various charity organizations. We pretty much have the same value system: we are both savers, both have same parenting values, etc. The only things we have ever argued about was neatness of the house ( He is neater than I am). But after 30 years we have met in the middle on that issue and don’t argue about that either.

Neither of us want to hurt the other one and we are both very quick to apologize if we think we might have done something wrong. My husband is having health issues. I went back to work this year and that has helped my outlook on life tremendously. We only have 1 child left and she keeps us quite busy as she is social and cannot drive yet. I just don’t feel any passion anymore and I don’t think he does either, to be honest.

Our sex life has dropped off to almost nonexistent. When I went off birth control, my sex drive skyrocketed but he didn’t know what to do with that. He was polite and would try, but the passion of our early days just wasn’t there. Now that I have entered menopause and have a new job, I just don’t ask anymore, so weeks go by. As I mentioned, stress and health problems don’t help.

On our 25th anniversary trip to a very romantic destination, it took 4 days or so before we made love, but then it was every day. But then back to reality. We schedule a week long vacation once a year just the two of us along with several weekends a year (We have a long weekend coming up in a couple months). We hold hands. We talk about our dreams. We take walks on our place, the two of us, several times a week.

I have probably 20 or more marriage books. So why don’t I feel like I am in love with him? He is a good friend. I’m not leaving. Our marriage is a covenant for life. I just thought it would be more, I guess. I thought it would be this passionate, fun connection. Most women would kill for what I have: he fixes anything in our house immediately, if I ever ask for something to be done, he does it immediately. He tells me he loves me every day. He has giant to do lists, but he puts me on them to make sure he doesn’t forget me because he does love me.

He will go on dates, but I have to plan them. I plan great big fun ones, which he really, really likes (going out to dinner and leaving a key to a hotel with him, setting up camping on our property, making a scavenger hunt, etc). He especially liked the scavenger hunt for an anniversary where I put pictures of  something that happened each year and the clue to go find something that happened another year.

I have reliable and steady, but I want passion, creativity and fun. I have found a huge outlet this year with my job. I am having a ball and find myself just prattling on and on about it to him, but I know that gets old for him. I want to find HIM exciting. The job has helped my boredom, but unlike what people suggested, it hasn’t helped the relationship. I want to want to spend time with him.

To be honest, I wonder about just cancelling our weekend together so I can just do school stuff. I’m sure the problem is me, but I don’t know how to fix it. I just thought marriage would be more, I guess. Just an unrealistic expectation I suppose. But I don’t know how to not keep yearning for more. Would the book address that? Most books don’t really apply to us. As I said, we don’t fight, so all of the silly communication stuff with the “I-statements” and paraphrasing and all that… it doesn’t fit.

I managed to get him to go to counseling for his work stress (which eventually caused a health issue that has had some major repercussions) and he had me come in with him. He feels like we should share everything, so I know how he feels. Even then, the counselor couldn’t see the stress (My husband is VERY calm on the outside and has never lost his cool/yelled in our marriage, professional life, etc). He decided that he was like a person on the battlefield that can do his job, but then struggles after the battle is over.

My counselor recommended this game called Reunion that we played… We each guessed each others responses 100 percent of the time. We know exactly what each other is thinking most of the time. So, would your book work? Do I really need another marriage book?

Here’s my response –

First, congratulations on what sounds like a lovely marriage and life. Second, I’m not at all surprised to hear that achieving the success of heartfelt connection, security, respect, and friendship has left important parts of you feeling empty and unsatisfied. The cruel reality is that the very things we work so hard to create in a marriage or relationship can also rob us of the feelings of excitement and liveliness that many of us crave. Thus, I hear statements like “I don’t feel passion in my marriage,” alongside stories like yours quite often.

I agree that you probably don’t need more marriage books on conflict resolution, communication, love languages, or empathy. You already understand or possess these qualities in spades.

Unfortunately, most conventional thinking on marriage and relationships (including most counselling and therapy models) focuses exclusively on narrow definitions of connection, and misses other important areas.

Creating and nurturing emotional bonds is an important part of the equation, but the other side of the coin is important too. The other side of the coin includes differentiation, novelty, tension, friction, uncertainty, risk… all ingredients necessary for passion in marriage, for that crucial and elusive experience many of us crave: eroticism.

Eroticism thrives in tension and uncertainty, in distance and danger, even in conflict or anger; all things we labour at minimizing in our lives. Ironic right? There’s no simple formula to solve this paradox, but we can acknowledge it and begin to work with it intentionally. In this regard, my book, The Re-Connection Handbook for Couples might be quite helpful and refreshing for you. The chapters on differentiation and eroticism may help fill in some of the missing pieces for you. In addition, my second book Conscious Kink for Couples: The beginner’s guide to using kinky sex and BDSM for pleasure, growth, intimacy, and healing might provide relevant and useful insights and practices.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments and great questions!

All my best,

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Campbell River Marriage Counselling Justice Schanfarber Trying to grow, fix, change, understand or save your marriage? I provide couples therapy, marriage counselling, coaching and mentoring to individuals and couples on the issues that make or break relationships – Sessions by telephone/skype worldwide. Email to request a client info package.

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