Updated: Oct 25
As a relationship coach, I get to walk alongside folks in all stages of relationships, holding space for joy and exuberance as well as loss and fury. Just this week, one client added a new baby to his young family while a couple fought heroically to stay together after big breach of trust.
A birth or a trust breach are distinct moments in time. Afterwards you can look back and pinpoint exactly when the baby arrived or when the affair happened. Everyone involved is aware they took place (with the affair, at least after it comes out).
The gradual decline of “spark”
There’s another kind of relationship issue that much harder to pin down, even though it’s extremely common: The gradual decline of “spark”. It’s like a candle that once burnt bright and blue, but now, after many years, the wick has become very short, the wax is almost depleted, and the flame is sputtering as if running completely out of oxygen.
I coached a woman who summed up this situation with a resigned sigh, “When I look at him, I feel … nothing”.
This post is a my invitation to you to not let that happen in your relationship. Or, if it already has happened, to add some “oxygen” to your dying flame before it snuffs out altogether. Why? Because sexual spark and sensual pleasure is what makes a relationship special, something more than just friends or effective partners. As the famous sex therapist Dr. Kerner once said, "I believe that sex matters: It’s the glue that keeps us together and, without it, couples become ‘good friends’ at best, or ‘bickering roommates’ at worst.”
This same woman told me how earlier in their relationship, she and her husband were passionate, vivacious people! The shock of saying, “I feel nothing” had jolted her awake. Now, she was almost fascinated with how different the mood of their relationship used to be.
At night, they slept wrapped up in each other’s arms, leaving the sheets in a tangle. Now, they sleep neatly on either side of their king bed, respecting each other’s space. When they hiked around town, they’d hold hands and make frequent stops to marvel at a shop window or a swan in the park. Now, they walk purposefully for exercise, him two steps ahead of her. When they watched TV, she used to sling her legs over his and he’d rub her feet. Now, they each have a very nice chair and a much larger TV; an excellent viewing experience, but just out of reach of each other.
Doesn't that happen to everyone?
Now, I can almost hear what you’re thinking: “But isn’t that a natural part of being together for a long time? We get more comfortable. We need our sleep more. We know the love is there, so we don’t need to touch all the time to prove it. The honeymoon can’t last forever, right?”
Yes, much of this is natural. It’s natural that our sleep patterns change as we age. It’s natural that our libidos decrease. It’s natural that body aches and pains affect our sex lives.
But do you think my client is comforted or encouraged by “it’s natural” as she looks at her husband and feels … nothing?
Writing off this gradual decline as “natural” can very easily be habitual complacency. To my mind, a much more important question is, What do you want? What do you want for your relationship? What kind of sex life do you want to have?
Once she started exploring those questions, it quickly became clear she wanted a whole lot more than “feel nothing”. On the contrary, she wanted to feel alive with her husband. She wanted them to touch and make each other giggle. She wanted them to be lovers, not just effective logistics partners. She wanted the experience of looking over at him and feel some heat in her body!
Our message to couples has always been this: Spark can be generated. Pleasure can be revived, even if it’s been a long while since last time. Sex and fun in bed can be revitalized. In the honeymoon phase of a relationship, it happens automatically. Later in a relationship, you have to cultivate and nurture the spark deliberately. All of which we have taught thousands of couples and individuals to do in our Possibilities of Sex workshop and private coaching.
2 questions and an invitation for you
I leave you with two questions and an invitation. When it comes to spark, pleasure, and sex, what do you want for your relationship? Never mind what the current state is; what do you want it to be? Secondly, is it worth putting in some effort to (re)create that?
My invitation is to act before you reach the point of “feel nothing”. The slow decline of spark is easy to miss because it happens so gradually, and often on the background of everything else being fine. There’s no big problem that screams for attention, and you might still work effectively together in general. But if you pause to notice, just like my client did, you’ll know!
Consider this: What's something you could do today that would add some oxygen to your relationship? Whatever your answer, go try it out!
LoveWorks: We believe relationships are meant to be an empowering, fun, passionate, safe place to grow, love, and learn. Where we get to be more of who we are, not less. We know it’s not always easy, but it can definitely be easier! With our unique and practical approach to relationship, you learn how to resolve conflicts quickly and enjoy fulfilling intimacy for the rest of your life. To learn more or contact us, visit www.loveworkssolution.com.