Do you feel as if the spark has gone out in your marriage? Do you wonder where that magical attraction you initially felt disappeared to?
Well, here’s the secret – there was never any “magic” outside your control. You can bring that spark back to your marriage today.
In this episode, I explore what makes a relationship feel “magical” and how you can keep that dopamine and excitement flowing in your marriage.
We will talk about focusing your attention on your spouse and how familiarity suppresses desire. The solution is simpler than you may think.
Listen to the Full Episode:
What You’ll Learn In This Episode:
- What the “magic” truly is
- Why you are in control of the “magic”
- How familiarity suppresses desire
- How to cultivate dopamine in your marriage
- How to “mix it up” and spark interest
- How to fill our own tanks
Featured On The Show:
Struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you’re serious about finding that answer?
Book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. We’ll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there’s a fit for you and I to work together so you can make - and execute - the RIGHT decision for YOU and your marriage.
“Welcome to The Loving Truth podcast, where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now, your host, relationship expert and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope.
“Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope, and this is The Loving Truth. Today I wanna talk to you about when you feel like you don't have desire anymore for your husband, and it's got you questioning your marriage.
“Now, first, let's talk about attraction and desire. I think for many of us, the way we talk about those two topics, it’s as if it's magic, pixie dust, that someone else sprinkles on our experience or takes it away. For instance, we look at someone, and we feel attraction, or we watch someone doing something, and we feel attracted to them, and we watch someone else doing something, and we don't feel that attraction. So we think that we should place our gaze upon something or place our focus upon something and that we will either feel attraction or not, as if it's something that's happening outside of us, or as if we don't have a role in the creation of that attraction.
“Look, attraction and desire, there's no magic to that. Now, I think there's probably a little bit of magic that comes along with chemistry between two people, but attraction and desire are things that we have to cultivate and nurture both in ourselves and in our relationships if we want that attraction and desire to sustain itself. Now, there's a concept that I wanna introduce you to, and I'm going to introduce it to you by a kind of lighthearted story.
“So, many years ago, I was on a diet that required me to drink a bunch of protein shakes. And if I was going to eat food, it was more than likely a chicken breast and broccoli. You can imagine for a foodie how much fun that period of time in my life was. I very much will eat food as a means of enjoyment, as a way to experience pleasure. But there is scientific evidence that when you eat the same thing over and over and over again, you no longer have desire for it because there's no variety in there, right?
“And, and during that time, food for me became something that was just to fuel my body, just to keep my body going and functioning in all the ways that it needed to. It was not about pleasure or enjoyment, which there's probably some degree of health in that because I shouldn't look to food to be my source of pleasure all the time. But that is a different podcast for a different day, my friends. Here's the thing I want you to realize from that example - familiarity suppresses desire, right? There was never a day that I woke up thinking, ‘I can't wait to have another protein shake. I can't wait to have another chicken breast. Oh, it's gonna taste so good.’ No, it was just, ‘I got hungry. I ate a piece of protein in some way, shape, or form.’ That was it.
“It was not about desire. Familiarity suppresses desire. And so what does that mean? That means that every single monogamous person in a committed relationship is going to experience this dip in desire and attraction for their spouse. And what I want you to realize is that nothing has gone wrong. When something is new and exciting for us, then your body has a physiological response.
“It's like your brain gets lit up like a pinball machine with all these feel-good hormones, specifically dopamine. So when something is new and desirable and exciting, dopamine floods our body. It's a feel-good hormone, right? And if you think about it, this is kind of why there's this magnetic draw to affairs, once you get involved in one, because - think about it - in an affair, it's all new. It's exciting. There's more than a little danger involved when you're involved in an affair. And so of course, your body is flooded with dopamine. And then what we do is we compare this affair relationship with the relationship we've had with a partner for, I don't know, a decade or two, right?
“And that relationship feels very safe, very predictable, not a lot of spontaneity, very known, right? So there's not a lot of dopamine flooding your body about that relationship. And then we think that we should question that relationship, and we should abandon it potentially to go towards the relationship that is flooding our bodies with dopamine. When all that is happening is that the familiarity that we feel and experience inside of our committed relationships has bred a lack of desire, because, by the way, no one told us that we needed to cultivate desire inside of our relationships in order to keep it alive. Like where was the class on cultivating desire in a marriage over the course of, I don't know, 10, 20, 30, 50 years together? There was no class on that. So we didn't even know that that was something that we needed to pay attention to.
“All right? Now, here's what I want you to think about. If you are in a place of where you're really disconnected inside your marriage, and you're saying things to yourself like, ‘Well, I'm not attracted to my husband anymore. I have no desire for him. I can't imagine ever having sex with him.’ Oftentimes when people tell me that, it's almost like they're putting a period at the end of that sentence, right? Like it's a nail in the coffin, because I can't get over that. I feel no attraction to him. So therefore, how can any of these other tools that you're offering to me share and work to help the relationship to feel good in a way that would make me wanna stay in it?
“Now, if you are in a place of real disconnection, reaching for having great sex and cultivating desire in the relationship is just too far of a reach. You're reaching too far. And so of course, you're not being successful. There's a whole process that I teach in my membership program that's called From Disconnection to Desire. And there are seven steps between being disconnected and having great desire inside your relationship for your partner.
“There's a whole bunch of steps, and we gotta take those steps one at a time. It doesn't mean you can't get there; it just means you can't get there in one step, right? So think of it like this. You can't put a 30-foot ladder against your house and go from the bottom rung of that ladder to the top rung of that ladder in one step, right? Because we're not Spider-Man, we can't do that, but can we get to the top rung of that ladder? Of course we can, but we have to do it by taking a step, rung by rung by rung. And so this is the same thing.
“It's sort of a laddered approach, and some of those laddered approaches, some of the elements in those steps are things you have to reach for appreciation. You have to establish a level of respect. You have to trust one another. You have to have a bit of fun and levity and lightheartedness together. We have lost that in our marriages. So often, any levity or lightness usually gets pointed toward our kids in those relationships, and it's very seldomly pointed toward our spouses.
“We also need to have non-sexual touch that feels really good. So there are a lot of steps that you have to go through. You don't just go from being disconnected to feeling great desire. So I just tell you that so you know that the reason you're not being successful, or the reason you're not feeling desire, isn't because you're doing something wrong. It's that you're reaching too far and that you're experiencing something that every single relationship will experience, right?
“If we always need the dopamine hit, and it always has to be something new in order for us to get that dopamine hit, then what's our alternative? We're gonna go out and get in a new relationship every three to five years because we need everything to be new and exciting all the time. I mean, that's fine, do it very consciously. But then don't get married, because in marriage, you now have to figure out, ‘How do I keep the marriage feeling good over the course of many, many years and decades together?’
“So here's what I want you to think about. Here are just a few tips in terms of, ‘Okay, I get it, Sharon. I have to pay attention to and cultivate desire in my relationship in order to feel attraction for my spouse, right?’ I promise you, it is not something happening outside of you, and you don't wanna just leave this in the hands of your partner. Like, you need to be in. ‘Do the things that I need you to be in, so that when I place my gaze upon you, I will feel attraction and desire.’ That's not actually how it works.
“And no one can do that reliably over the course of decades for you. There's some work we gotta do on our parts for that. So first of all, let's get real for a second. We can stop having the same sex over and over and over again, right? In the same ways, one thing after the other, after the other. We never mix it up. We never have new positions. We invite each other the same way, right? We can get better at inviting, right? You wanna fool around, come on. We did that in high school. We can do a little better now as adults in terms of inviting each other into a sensual and sexual experience. Okay? So those are two very pragmatic things that you can do.
“A couple other things. Seek out new experiences together, right? If familiarity suppresses desire, then what do I need? I need more variety, right? So you have to seek out new things to do together and not always fall into the rut of doing the same thing or doing nothing together, and then instead, doing things with your girlfriend or doing things with your kids, but not really doing anything meaningful or fun or interesting or exciting with your spouse. So I don't care if it's a cooking class or visiting Italy or skydiving out of a plane - it can be anything you want it to be, but it's gotta be something new and interesting once in a while. Okay?
“The other thing is, and this is so simple - you can do this today. Look for new points of connection between the two of you. And this doesn't have to be a big deal. So let's say every night you two end up sitting on the couch watching TV, or watching a movie, or watching a sporting event, something like that. God forbid, you have what I call the divorce couch. The divorce sofa, which is one of those long sofas with the two recliners, a recliner on each end. And then there's this big gaping space on the sofa in between you. I call it the divorce couch, because there's no handholding. There's no cuddling, there's no non-sexual touch, there's no togetherness. There's just - you're in the same room together pointing your attention at some object that isn't one another.
“And so instead of always falling into that same routine of ‘let's sit in front of the TV and let's watch this show,’ why don't you go sit out back on your patio, share a glass of wine together, sit around the fire pit if it's too cold outside, sit in front of the fireplace in your house, turn off the TV, turn on some music, and just sit there and talk, right? The kids can be in the other room, they can be watching TV, they can be playing with their friends, they can be talking on their phones, they can be doing whatever they're doing, but you can be in the living room in front of the fireplace, just sitting there having a conversation, listening to music, right?
“There's a lot of things that we can do if we just get out of our own way a little bit, and think of ways to spice it up, ways to not just fall into the same predictable, boring, known, safe rut. Okay? And the last thing, and this might be the most important thing, and I will probably do an entire podcast just on this at some point, but - and this is really for the ladies. Ladies, we have to keep our desire tank full. We cannot wait to just glance our partner's way and feel turned on, right? We have to feel turned on in our lives so that when the opportunity presents itself, we're not so far away from that feeling of desire, right?
“And there are a lot of ways that you can keep yourself feeling passionate, feeling alive - like what do you, whether it's your work, like maybe it's something that you do for a living that really lights you up and gets you excited, right? Or maybe it's, you know, something that you've done with the kids and you really enjoyed your day with the kids, and you're feeling, you know, great as a mother and you're excited about your kids' experience.
“Like it can be anything you want. It could be, you know, taking up a new hobby yourself. Maybe you take a painting - maybe you take a poetry or creative writing - like you express yourself in some creative way. That is, all of those are ways that you can sort of fill that tank of desire so that it's not on empty when we're asking it to run a marathon.
“Okay? We can fill up that tank so that when that opportunity presents itself, it's like, ‘Yeah, I could go there, and I usually feel better after I do go there, right?’ So what I really wanted to be able to express to you through this teaching was that, look, desire and attraction are not some magic pixie dust that gets bestowed upon us one year, and then a year later it's gone, and you have no say or control in your experience. You have so much control inside of your experience.
“It's just that no one told you you needed to pay attention to it, otherwise, it's going to go out. It's like if you had a fire burning a little bonfire outside, and you didn't pay any attention to it, right? You didn't stoke the fire, you didn't add any logs to the fire, eventually that fire is going to go out, and it's the same way inside of our lives and inside of our relationship. So it just takes a little bit of paying attention, takes a little bit of getting creative and not just doing things the same way day after day, over and over again. Familiarity suppresses desire; new and exciting creates and cultivates desire. And unless we wanna go out and get a new partner every several years, we gotta figure out how to create new and exciting, interesting experiences inside the relationship we've got.
“All right. I hope that that was helpful and gave you something new to chew on. I'll see you next week.
“Has the spark gone out of your relationship? Are you concerned by the growing distance between you and your spouse? While you may feel lonely, you are certainly not alone. Fifty to seventy-three percent of marriages today suffer from disconnection. I'm exploring exactly why that is, and how to know whether your marriage can feel good again in my free on-demand training, Living Like Roommates.
“We'll dive deep into what's caused the distance in your relationship so you can understand how to move forward in a new direction. Sign up for the training now at livinglikeroommates.com.
Again, that's livinglikeroommates.com. I look forward to seeing you there.”