It is completely natural for excitement to fade after the initial few months of a relationship. The thrill of newfound physical intimacy can be tricky to maintain as the months and years of monogamy wear on.
While you and your partner develop a deeper, more meaningful emotional connection over time, that closeness can come with a price. The bond we form at the beginning of a relationship is often based on a strong physical attraction and emotional distance. That distance allows us to fill in the gaps with a fantasy that fades as day-to-day reality creeps in.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a pattern to look out for.
It can be scary or embarrassing to communicate these feelings with your partner, which is where relationship therapy can help. A marriage or sex therapist provides a safe, facilitated environment for sharing uncomfortable feelings. While you think about whether getting relationship counseling is right for you, consider these factors that can cause the spark to fizzle:
- Harboring resentment— When you get to know someone very well, live with them month after month, and spend years together, there are going to be nagging issues about their personality, their behaviors, your compatibility, or your connection that mount up. If you never address these issues in a meaningful and substantive way, “emotional walls”can be built, which can drive a wedge between you.
- Failing to share activities and time— Maintaining some sense of novelty is important, so regularly spending time together outside of daily routines is an important way to maintain interest, grow together, and share new experiences. Slow down and take time to relate with each other where there are no distractions. This can re-secure your emotional bond.
- Sharing too many activities or too much time— Conversely, you don’t want to share so many interests and hobbies that your identities have merged. One key to desire is a certain amount of mystery and independence, so you should never stop investing in yourself and maintaining your own passions and activities, just because your partner doesn’t share them.
- Loss of physical attraction— This one can be the most difficult to deal with. If your partner has gained a lot of weight, for example, you may no longer feel as sexually attracted to them. This does not mean you are a terrible, shallow person. Desire and attraction aren’t things you choose and control. But if this happens to you, you might want to do some internal work. Examine your beliefs about body image and how they relate to internal value. You can reframe your concept of what sex can look like— a sensual experience instead of a hot fantasy, for example. This is something you should definitely get therapy for relationships about before bringing it up with your partner.
How the therapist fits in to relationship counseling
Counseling designed to helps couples can provide tools for addressing each of the factors above. Practice doesn’t make perfect; PERFECT practice makes perfect. It can save a lot of time and frustration getting help from someone who has seen and solved your situation before.
I can give you proven techniques for dissolving resentment, suggestions for spending quality time together, formulas for getting the together/apart mix right, and tips for restoking the fires of intimacy.
This last tool may involve new ways of physically connecting that do not include sexual intercourse. There are many elements to attraction, and there are effective exercises for heating up the parts that have grown cold over the years.