S.C. wrote: “So happy your back! I hope all has been well. My wife and I are relatively young (both 26), married for 6 years with two young children. We argue on occasion but for the most part we have a loving and trusting marriage… but the romance department isnt great. Basically, we will have sex once a week and it’s great, but it feels very routine, almost obligatory. It’s like, “Okay it’s the second friday night of the week, here we go”, utilizing one of the two basic positions we use with no or little foreplay and no romantic activity in between this bi-monthly sex. I almost miss the days before we got married and started having sex, where we were doing hand/mouth stuff spontaneously while watching tv, and I’m struggling with how to address it and bring it back. When we are doing the deed my wife is into it, but outside those “sessions” she doesn’t seem to be interested in much, giving or receiving. Help?”
Liz says: Almost every married couple with and without kids is hardcore relating to your issue right now. It’s so common, there are hundreds of books and websites littered with advice on “How To Get The Spark Back Into Your Marriage!”
In other words, don’t buy into the nonsense that it must mean there’s something wrong in the marriage if you two aren’t pawing each other every chance you get anymore. You haven’t written anything that indicates you’re interpreting it this way, but it’s worth mentioning anyway (if not for you, then for my readers).
Humans have a need for novelty. It’s one of the driving forces behind exploration, innovation, and our tendency to desire multiple lovers over our lifetime. Humans get bored easily, it’s one of the side effects of being more intelligent animals. That’s why you don’t see squirrels getting bored eating acorns all day and creating Acorn Ragout.
Plus, humans tend to appreciate more what we can’t easily have. Psychologically, we subconsciously become more likely to take for granted the people who are always around, and in a marriage that can affect your sex drive or attraction to your partner.
Not to mention, other priorities take the lead. When you first meet, if you don’t have kids or careers, you have more time for spontaneous sex. But as soon as we master “Adulting” we give priority to the assortment of new responsibilities, like office meetings and your kid’s dental appointments. With more on our plate, spontaneous sex and frequent sex tend to take a backseat.
The answer to all this isn’t that humans should never get married or have kids, of course. Here are my tips:
- Understand that this is typical/common. After the rush of first love wears off, couples enter into what experts call Companionate Love. It’s romantic love without the obsessive thinking of each other and hard-to-control lust. Can you imagine if love never evolved past this stage? We’d never get anything done in society. Recognizing that this is a healthy stage is good because people who don’t are more likely to cheat on their partner or resent their partner because they assume their lack of frequent sex is a sign of something wrong in the relationship.
- Become a more egalitarian couple. Studies show that in relationships where both mates equally help around the home with the kids and chores, they rate their sex lives as more satisfying and they have more sex on average. This is most likely because if one spouse is more burdened by chores and children, they’re more stressed and tired (which lowers sex drive) and more resentful of the spouse who’s not putting in their part.
- Try something new. This could be something you both have discussed trying outside the bedroom or inside the bedroom. Doing something fun and novel can create a renewed sense of excitement in the relationship, even when it’s not sexual. For example, have you guys talked about an interest in skydiving? Or learning French together? Or trying sex in the shower? Anything new that gets us out of a rut stimulates parts of the brain that can be invigorating to the relationship.