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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Re-Invigorating Your Marriage

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 17th 2007

I was recently asked how people who have been married for several years or more can enliven their marriages so married life becomes less routine and predictable. Given the fact that my wife and I have been married for 38 years, the question gave me some pause for thought. Of course, to answer the question we must ask another question: why should lose its initial energy, enthusiasm and romance?

Why:

1. One of the worst things that can happen in a marriage is for two people to begin to take one another for granted. In other words, forgetting the birthday of your spouse, the anniversary of your wedding or to express appreciation of your spouse except for special occasions, can be deadly for a relationship. The pressure of daily work and of making a living often provides just the type of condition to cause people to think that they have no time to think or worry about their spouse.

2. When small children are added to the formula, the stress and pressure increase for both husband and wife, adding to stress of the "daily grind." Tiredness, work and responsibility cause many couples to drift apart. Mothers often come to feel that all they do all day long is to work. Their husband comes home and they feel ignored. Husbands often feel ignored by their wives whose attention is drawn to child care. When they walk into the house, they too feel ignored and taken for granted.

3. One of the major aspects to suffer under the pressure of work and raising children is the sexual and romantic relationship between husband and wife. This can lead to unfortunate consequences such as wives feeling unattractive because their husbands never approach them or husbands believing their wives no longer desire them because they refuse sex complaining that they are exhausted.

We now return to the original question: how can people reinvigorate their marriages?

How:

There are many thoughtful and, often times, simple things couples can do to refresh their marriage and their sexual and romantic relationship. The following is a list of suggestions not meant to be comprehensive but to stimulate thinking and creativity:

1. A small card the inside of which expresses love can be very meaningful and bring a smile of appreciation to a husband or wife.

2. A single flower with a card accomplishes the same goal as number 1.

3. Setting aside an evening, either during the week or weekend, to go out to a romantic dinner away from the children. Providing childcare or baby sitting will be important to accomplish this goal.

4. Planning and preparing a romantic dinner at home, with candle light, wine and soft music can set a tone of love and romance followed by passion. Of course, this is all done after the children are asleep.

5. Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the expert on sexual relationships during the 1980's and nineties, stated in one broadcast that sometimes couples want "quickie and spontaneous sex and other times want slow and romantic sex. She emphasized the importance of people being flexible and open with one another with regard to matters that are sexual and romantic.

The bottom line to all of this is for couples to communicate with one another about how they are feeling, what they are doing and what they would like to do as a couple and as a family. This can be difficult to do with children at home and both parents working. The failure to find time to talk and attend to one another's needs is what often leads to alienation and divorce.

Remember, your spouse is supposed to be your best friend.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at dransphd@aol.com for details.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    I Feel Where You're Coming From - J.B.J II - Mar 26th 2008

    i feel exactly where your coming from on that remark mame, its is very tru that guys do vere away from the conversation arguement what have you and it is also true what you say about mis understanding cause i am going through that now i want to rekindle the relationship but dont feel the same and my partner is very unhappy even though i am really showing the deep appreciation that i have and understand what i have in her and now it feels weird to her cause its been along time since ive been all i am your servant babe head over heels you know?

    It sounds so simple...but - - Feb 1st 2008

    I think an important point here is that BOTH partners need to want to re-invigorate the relationship. If only one partner feels the dissatisfaction, but the other sees little amiss, a problem of a different sort is created.

    In this case, the dissatisfied partner not only feels troubled about the state of the relationship, but also feels invalidated by their spouse. As a female I can only see this from one side, but it seems that the male and female responses to this are very different. A woman will generally try to talk (or argue) about the problem until some sort of resolve is achieved, where a man tends to shy away from this display of emotion or discussion of a problem by either regarding it as an attack or minimizing the importance of the problem altogether. This is of course a generalization. It is very easy faced with an unhappy relationship and a spouse who seems unresponsive to the problem, to eventually give up trying to re-invigorate anything.

     

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