Sexual desire and passion are the by-products of a well-nourished relationship.
Like anything else, if you want to have a healthy relationship, take care of it. To quote my husband, Dr. Mark Malan: “Great relationships don’t just happen. They are built with conscious awareness and skill.” The few couples you see out there with exceptional relationships and delicious love-lives to show for it are doing something very different than the typical mainstream American. They are prioritizing their romantic relationship. They are consciously seeking help to learn relationship skills. They are investing their best time and energy into the person they love. Their calendars are marked abundantly with regular dates for courting each other.
Deliberately create a positive association to each other.
Research shows that couples thriving in their love for each other versus those that are divorcing or enduring empty shell marriages are experiencing at least five times more positive association to their partner than negative association (Gottman, 1997). In other words, when they think about their partner, they are remembering more happy pleasurable experiences and feelings, rather than negative memories. Couples that want to keep their relationship feeling fresh and exciting need to be mindful of how their actions are being experienced by their partner, and deliberately do things that make their partner associate them with love and pleasure (i.e.: kind acts, approving smiles, words of encouragement, and fun experiences).
Be prepared with tools for processing through problems and misunderstandings that come up in your relationship.
Relationships are like houses. They accumulate clutter and sometimes get so messy that they’re uncomfortable to be in. Like houses, relationships need to have a process in place for clearing out junk that builds up (in the form of misunderstandings and resentments), so that there is space for what is really desired. Couples need to be equipped with the basic tools of communication, attentive listening, and win/win problem solving to process through the many issues that continually come up in relationships. Many couples come to our clinic to learn these skills. Staying on top of issues and processing them through so they don’t accumulate into relationship-threatening barriers between partners is the secret to keeping committed relationships fresh and vibrant.
Invest into your love.
Do you remember that age-old adage, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”? Or more currently you may have heard, “Whatever you focus on expands.” Relationships, like everything else on this earth, are subject to the natural law of entropy which states: Unless acted upon, things will deteriorate. Most romantic relationships start out with infatuation, but research done by Helen Fisher shows that after 1 ½ to 3 years most couples lose their initial fascination with each other (Fisher, 2004). How can couples keep from losing their love and passion for each other? The answer is simple: Invest. We value those things, and those people, that we invest into. If you want to keep your feelings of love alive, invest more into the person you love. Spend more time with your Beloved. Do new things together. Give him/her your undivided attention. Develop your relationship skills.
Seek professional help when you need it.
If you are struggling with sexual dysfunction that is keeping you from experiencing satisfying sexual intimacy, or if you want to learn sexual skills for enhancing your romantic relationship, find a professional sex therapist that is trained to help you in this area. Make sure the therapist is an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist or a Board Certified Clinical Sexologist.
About Colette Malan:
Colette Malan is an individual, marital, and family psychotherapist and an