You and your spouse are thinking about couples counseling and you find yourself thinking, what’s the point? Neither of you have felt happy in a long time. You don’t spend any time together outside of paying bills and taking care of the kids, and you can’t even remember the last time you’ve had enjoyable sex. Intimacy is long gone and this leaves you feeling like your relationship is doomed. While this may seem like a hopeless situation, you’re not alone. Many couples come sit on our couch dealing with a similar situation. You’ll be pleased to hear that intimacy does not have to be such an elusive experience! There are many things you can do TODAY to reinvigorate that spark in the relationship that has long been missing.
Put Sex Back on the Table
Naturally, when we talk about intimacy, all thoughts go to the bedroom. Sexual connection is important in relationships, and issues in this area often land people in couples counseling feeling incredibly frustrated. There are many reasons for this frustration and it usually stems from differences in desire, needs, and expectations. As we get older (and take on greater responsibilities and embrace new roles) our sexual interests evolve and change. This is incredibly natural, however, many couples resist this change and interpret it as a sign that their relationship is in crisis.
To combat this, consider having candid conversations about these changes and grow together in the new understanding of your sex-life. Try making these discussions fun and interactive: talking about sex doesn’t need to be awkward! Talk about who will initiate, what new needs or fantasies exist, and what turns you on and off. Actively work to express these issues and listen to your partner’s responses. Work to keep an open mind and remind yourself that your partner is likely trying to do the same for you. This way, you can both make sense of the changes that can be reasonably made to enhance sexiness and reinvigorate desire.
Rebuild the Emotional Connection
Intimacy is not always solely related to physical connections. Much like sexual urges, emotional needs change as we have different experiences and transition through the phases of life. If you are feeling the distance in the relationship, you are likely struggling with the emotional ramifications of these experiences. If you find yourself needing to process this, look no further than the person struggling right alongside you. By having open and honest conversations about your experiences and emotional needs, you may be better able to find some common ground on the status of your relationship.
Inviting emotional intimacy into your relationship again does not have to be an insurmountable task. Often times incremental changes toward pleasurable experiences are more lead to greater overall relationship satisfaction! While you are engaging in these conversations, remember to manage your expectations. Putting too much pressure on the relationship will make noticing the incremental growth impossible to see. Be patient with yourself and your partner. You are both learning the ropes of your changing relationship.
Make Time for Each Other
On the subject of small changes for greater connection, let’s start with some old-fashioned quality time. Often times, when life gets hectic it becomes easy to forget to make time for each other outside of the daily mundane and necessary tasks of life. While it can be difficult to carve out time to “alone-time”, doing so lays the foundation for a solid partnership. Re-discover activities that connect you as partners and friends.
Romance doesn’t always have to look like flowers, dancing, and candlelit dinners. Simply making your relationship a priority can be connecting and inviting of positive change in the relationship. How do you make this work? Dedicate some time weekly to just having fun together: whatever this looks like. Plan some time away from distractions and focus on the postive experiences you share together. strike up interesting conversations, plan an evening out or go for a walk just the two of you. Make the activity something you both enjoy and try to avoid putting too much pressure on the limited time you have
Lauri is an intern couples counselor at the Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She works with couples and families who want to reconnect and strengthen their emotional bonds. Lauri enjoys all things you can do in the great outdoors, horseback riding, and caring for her pets: a cat and a three-legged dog.”