Everyone wants a satisfying marriage, but what are they willing to do to make that happen? We find ourselves becoming complacent, then resenting our partners without necessarily understanding why and how to fix it.
Let’s look at some very common bad habits most of us have. It’s necessary to adjust the way we think to enjoy romance and sex in our relationships.
Here are some of the main steps that need to be taken to get and keep the romance going in your relationship:
1. Communication is vital
When romance fades in a relationship, usually one or both partners have shut down both sexually and emotionally. They start to withdraw and isolate themselves as well as their partners.
This makes having romance and sex more difficult when we’re not connected and in tune with each other. When it comes to romance, sometimes the sexiest thing our partners can do is communicate with us.
It takes a risk and being vulnerable to use communication effectively with loved ones. This can be considered maintenance for your relationship in keeping the lines of communication open.
Just ask any sex therapist how to fix sexual problems in a relationship, and they will tell you that communication is the most important element.
The biggest problem for couples and the reason most marriages don’t work is a failure to communicate or not communicating effectively. Then over time, they become more and more disconnected.
Now take this lack of communication into the bedroom. Many are reluctant to speak up about their desires or needs for many different reasons.
Cultural taboos, gender stereotypes, and religion are just some factors that cause people to be secretive or repressed about sex.
As a result, people experience major discomfort during sex or just don’t get what they need. Some people say that he or she should already know what works or what I like.
Needless to say, this thinking is asking for trouble. Our egos are notorious for destroying relationships and don’t allow us to be vulnerable.
So unless your marriage and sex life are perfect, you could probably benefit from discussing what your needs are as well as asking your partner more about their desires.
If something you wish your partner would do for you or something you dislike, it is for you to spell it out for them. Being open and honest allows you to be fully free in your expression and builds trust in the relationship.
2. Let go of cultural expectations
Hollywood movies, TV, magazines, and Facebook are very unreliable regarding sex and relationships, and reality in general.
Many people don’t think they fall into this trap, but it’s extremely difficult to not be affected at all by our culture. Exposure to media actually instills fear, insecurity, and creates an expectation of perfection.
As a result of being inundated by billboard models and the various media used in the American culture, we have a very warped view of how our bodies should look and how we should behave with others.
I am constantly urging clients to limit being online because it is so harmful to us. Facebook and other social media have some benefits, but the negative consequences definitely outweigh it all.
Most of my clients discuss feeling anxious and always comparing themselves to others when they use social media. Now imagine what this does to our relationship and sex life. It sets us up for impossible judgments and comparisons.
We imagine our relationships and sexual activity to be not okay and not measuring up to everyone else. Of course, this is an illusion that others are having more fun, having better sex, and enjoying their lives more.
The chances are that they are as nervous about how they are doing as almost everyone else. Instead of judging and worrying, romance and sex should be sacred experiences that couples enjoy and share.
We desperately need to learn how to be more mindful and give ourselves healthier messages and positive sexual messages. We see idealized relationships and sex scenes in movies where it just isn’t realistic.
The constant pressure many people feel kills the mood for intimacy. Allow yourself to let go of these impossible standards and start to focus more on pleasure for you and your partner. This is the way it should be.
Also watch: 5 crazy ways social media is changing your brain right now.
3. Create space for yourself and your partner
Any partnership needs to have some alone time as well as time spent together. It’s important to have your alone time for reflection. This includes masturbation, which people have so many mixed feelings about.
Before having been with a partner, masturbating allows people to explore the body, create pleasure, and have an understanding that their sexuality is for them and doesn’t belong to anyone else.
Contrary to what some may think, you could also masturbate with your partner. This is not a blow to someone’s ability to please but something very important for most people regardless of being in a relationship or not.
We need to respect our own boundaries and our partners and the desire for privacy when needed.
4. Stay open-minded
We are set up to fail when we think we need to follow a script to have romance and sex; it needs to follow a certain order.
For example, someone may feel they need to have a fancy dinner in a restaurant, then a romantic movie before getting physically intimate.
Or when it comes to sex, many feel that it doesn’t count unless it finishes with intercourse with the man climaxing. It takes the pressure off when things don’t always go along with these expectations.
When we have an open mind, we can learn something new about our partners, and it can open up new possibilities for us. It could be a new way of understanding and bring you closer to your partner.
And for many couples, they may eventually want to do things differently or just try something new. We are also more accepting of our partners when we stay open-minded.
5. Have respect
This is how we can feel safe in our relationships. It allows us to have trust when we use care in speaking to each other. This means fighting fair and being kind when there’s a disagreement.
When we feel safe, respected, and understood by our partners, we feel content and more at ease. When the right conditions are there in the relationship, we are then much more likely to want more romance, intimacy, and connection.
Get out of the rut
Great romance and great sex sometimes require changing the ways we think about them. It also involves taking responsibility for the state of our relationships.
Remember, our partners are a mirror for us and give us great insight about ourselves too.
Make it a regular practice to maintain self-awareness with your thoughts and feelings around romance and also how you feel about your partner to rekindle the romance in your marriage and keep things going in the right direction.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jennifer is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Holistic Therapist and specializes in depression and anxiety. She works with individuals who need help in overcoming obstacles in their life, keeping things as simple as possible and adjusting to life's ups and downs with more ease.
(Jennifer Colton is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Woodstock)