Trying to rekindle or revive your marriage may be one of the hardest duties there are in a relationship.
Sometimes there is a power-struggle relationship that has grown between you, without you even noticing. Marriages that develop this pattern and/or the controller/stonewaller pattern are at risk in later years.
A pattern begins where one person wants sexual intimacy more than the other and this can become a tool in the power dynamic of the relationship.
In the end, it’s not really just about sex.
Sex in marriage is not transactional, meaning that it’s less about objectification and exchange and more about trust, intimacy, and mutual sharing.
When the relationship is wrapped up in power struggles below the surface, how much trust can there be? The lower the trust, the lower the intimacy and the less likely for there to be real sharing and physical intimacy.
Rekindling sexual intimacy begins with rebuilding trust and safety in the relationship and reducing power struggles.
Rekindling sexual intimacy begins with rebuilding your emotional partnership. The place to begin is listening to what one another has to say or practicing what Gottman calls emotional attunement, which can help you stay connected even when you disagree.
The basis for this is really hearing your partner and expressing needs in a positive manner, avoiding blame and recrimination, simple, but not always easy.
Here Are The Steps To Rekindle Your Relationship
1. Create New Patterns
Whether your a pursuer or a distancer, the chances are you are bone-tired of this “dynamic” or pattern in your marriage.
Begin by eliminating criticism of one another and wiping out blame. Try role-playing each other’s experience with the distancer being the pursuer and visa versa.
Distancers can also try initiating intimacy and pursuers work on showing appreciation without expecting a return.
Because part of this pattern is about creating safety, it may serve you to create a safe word that both of you agree means go to your corners and relax/release frustration in triggered moments. The idea is to alter the pattern so that there starts to be shift in experience and expectations.
2. Use Physical Touch Often
Use physical touch frequently and without an expectation of there being more. Physical affection like holding hands and touching helps release oxytocin which is calming and is also released during orgasm.
Reducing stress and lowering the stress hormone cortisol are all the results of regular physical affection.
Offer a foot massage, back rub, neck massage without expectations, just for the sake of showing you care.
Being physically affectionate just for the sake of it builds trust and separates physical touch from a demand for sex.
Physical affection can also set the stage for future intimacy, helping to build anticipation.
Take time with foreplay, tease a little during the day for a liaison planned later in the evening.
Try new locations, make sex romantic again, not just an act of physical release.
Brain studies show that we experience more pleasure when the anticipation of the reward is extended before we actually receive it, the satisfaction is much greater.
4. Boundaries & Scheduling
The busier we get, the more important boundaries become between the different aspects of our life. Plan time to be intimate and only that.
Do not poison your time with talk of work or chores and avoid conversations that you know are triggering. Plan your time together, the where, the when, the how.
Set an intention for a certain kind of emotional experience in advance. Try courting and flirting to help rekindle the fires. Try eating out at home, a romantic date night. Turn off the TV, play music, light candles, take a shower together- whatever sets the mood for you both.
5. Think Vulnerability
Sex is an opportunity to get to know your partner better over time.
Sometimes you may feel you know each other too well which may open the door for looking for new ways to bring each other pleasure. Share your secret wishes and fantasies.
This may bring you the fear of emotional intimacy and if so consider working with a counselor to help you work it through.
No doubt some of these strategies sound a little daunting. Take them one step at a time. Talk about them and digest them together.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel stuck. Reigniting your friendship is the first step. Get to know one another again, start date nights again. Partnership is the next level of relationship to rebuild. Ensure that you are working together with a shared vision.
In a mature marriage (post love stage), romance can take time and is well worth the investment work. Stop comparing where you are to where you should. Exercise patience and take things slowly.