By Richard Nicastro, Ph.D.
Candlelit dinners, gazing into each otherÂ’s eyes, and the priority of talking and making love begin to buckle under the pressure of busy schedules, the demands of maintaining a household, the stresses of work, and for all those parents out there, the constant attention and energy children require.
Familiarity is a double-edged sword for most couples. Familiarity and repetitive routines can make you and your partner feel safe and comfortable with one another, but these same relationship staples can slowly cool the embers of passion.
For many, passion and novelty go hand-in-hand--new love is inherently passionate and sexually exciting. Just remember the level of passion you and your partner experienced early on in your relationship and you'll know what I'm talking about. But those spontaneous fireworks cannot last indefinitelyÂ—at some point deliberate attention and effort are needed to nurture this part of your relationship.
Are you contributing to a no-sex (or low-sex) marriage?
In addition to the natural erotic lulls that accompany long-term relationships, many couples are surprised to discover that they are doing things to contribute to a no-sex marriage. In particular, these couples espouse anti-erotic mindsets that make passion nearly impossible (and they might not even realize it!).
See if you or your partner hold any of the passion-annihilating mindsets listed below:
1. "Foreplay is a waste of time."
Some people are anti-foreplay. They'd rather jump right into sex, even if their partner isn't in the mood. Sure, some people like to start slow and their sexual arousal levels require a little attention and nurturance, but people who hold this particular mindset are probably convinced that they don't have the time or patience for foreplay. As a husband once said to me, "Doc, I work sixty-five hours a week. Foreplay isn't economicalÂ—it takes too much time and effort." Since when does foreplay have to be so time consuming? Even a "quickie" can include a little foreplay.
If you want to chase all lasting remnants of passion out of your relationship, forget the warm-up and embrace an anti-foreplay attitude. But if it's satisfying love-making that you're after, learn to embrace a pro-foreplay attitude.
2. "Passion shouldn't take planning"
You keep telling yourself that once the job stress vanishes or the kids grow up and leave for college, passion will magically find its way back into your relationship (so there's no reason to bother making the effort now). Part of this mindset includes the erroneous belief that passion should remain natural and spontaneous.
Most couples in a long-term relationship discover that great sex often results from sex that's planned (but they're not the ones reading an article on surefire ways to destroy passion). So, if you want to be sure the bed is used just for sleeping, throw away your daily planners and keep your fingers crossed that passion will find its way into your relationship.
3. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." (AKA: Don't disturb a good rut.)
Here's a really effective passion-drain: Resist any change or initiative that might add zest to your relationship; prepare the same meals, eat at the same restaurants, use the same exact script each time you make love, and for heaven's sake, never ever carve out alone time for you and your spouse.
As an added bonus, here are two passion-destroying beliefs that many couples end up endorsing. If you're stubbornly set on creating a relationship without any passion, you can repeat these statements each morning, but please only repeat them if you're totally serious about obliterating all signs of sexual energy from your relationship:
"Nothing will ever change, so why bother trying."
and "We've been together for so many years, it's useless trying something different."
4. "Why bother touching each other if it isn't going to lead to sex?"
Touch (both sexual and nonsexual) can add a layer of sensuality to your relationship while making you and your partner feel closer to each other. However, making a commitment to touch each other more frequently isn't that straightforward. Here's just one unforeseen complication you might face:
You're watching television together while holding handsÂ—sounds good, right? But what if you like to alternate channel-surfing hands? Within seconds things can get pretty convoluted and for some of you uncoordinated types, a little dangerous. Imagine your humiliation when you reach out to touch your partner but accidentally clip her in the side of the face with the remote. Or even worse, you put the remote down in order to hold hands and your spouse ends up gaining control of the remote! Keep your hands to yourself (for safety's sake).
There are many paths to a passionless relationshipÂ—the above passion--destroying mindsets are just a small sampling of how couples inadvertently chase the sex out of their relationships. There are also steps you can take to build a lasting and meaningful relationship, but some effort is needed. Are you ready to take this next step and create a meaningful relationship?
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