Just going through the motions in your marriage? Tips and advice that can help

I often get emails from people telling me that they are experiencing some disconnect in their marriage. Common phrases that might be used to describe this are things like: “I feel like we’re just going through the motions of our marriage”; or “I feel like we’re drifting apart”; or “I just don’t feel the same way about my spouse anymore”; or “the spark or chemistry is gone.”

Believe it or not, all of these feelings or perceptions stem from one thing: a lack of or diminished intimacy. And I promise you this is fixable because it is often caused by a lack of effort or time. It may sound cliché to say that you get what you put in for something, but in the case of marriage, few statements are as true as this. I will explain this more in the next article.

A striking contrast: Often when I tell people that the lack of intimacy they are experiencing is probably due to neglect, they sigh and I am often pretty sure this is not what they wanted to hear. Because on some level, they already know this, but they thought or hoped that their problem was unique or could be solved with a quick fix. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

For just a second, stop for a minute and think about the two of you and your relationship when you were first dating. How much time would you say they spent together then? How creative were you in finding things that the two of you could do that would be fun and bring you closer together? How willing were you to schedule other obligations to spend more time with the person you loved?

Now, how reluctant were you to show the person you loved any flaws? How often did you put your best foot forward, careful to show them only the best, nicest, funniest, most attractive version of yourself? How often did you do nice things to show them that you had been paying close attention and to show them that their happiness was important to you?

Few people can deny that they put in a lot more time and effort in the beginning. This is the point where you try to attract your spouse and become an important person in their life. This is the moment when you find that magical sweet spot where you see them enough to be intimate, but not enough that it seems like too much. In short, you leave them both wanting more.

Now, does this contrast with how things are today? How often do you spend time and effort when you’re together to do fun things or have meaningful conversations that bring you closer together? If you can find a number (and few people can) try to contrast it with the number that might be compared to when you were first dating. I know this is hard. Few people have the perspective to be able to do this, but I’ll give you an example. Let’s say that when you were dating, you spent about ten hours a week together bonding and creating intimacy. And this time and effort made you feel like you were “deeply in love.” This was a wonderful feeling that you wanted more of, so it didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice to put other things on the back burner in order to have this kind of flexibility and reward.

Now, let’s say right now, because of kids, work, and other obligations, you can spend two hours a week bonding and being alone with your spouse. That’s how much, 1/5 of what you were spending before? And how “present” are you at that moment? Because most of us only watch TV with our spouse and hope that this counts as quality time. So if we follow this logic, do you spend 1/5 of the time you used to with your spouse, but expect to feel 100% of the intimacy you did? And are you also probably only putting in 1/5 of the effort you used to?

I know this seems like a silly example, but stop and think about it for a second. I am not telling you this to make you feel guilty because you are the norm. Most people are having the exact same experience that you are having right now. We’re all so busy with our jobs, our kids, and trying to stay afloat in this horrible economy that when we can squeeze a few hours of couple time together, we’re too exhausted to give or receive in a meaningful and enthusiastic way. How can we change this? Changing our priorities.

Make intimacy and marital closeness a high priority: Hopefully, I have made it very clear that this is my experience and that I strongly believe that there is a direct correlation between how much time you spend in your marriage and how intimate you feel in it. You just can’t expect to feel the feelings if you’re not sharing the experiences. However, we all let this be swept under the rug. And, this is the first behavior that you need to change.

A close and satisfying marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your children. It is your refuge from the turmoil of life and it is better than anything money, status or time can buy. Therefore, you need to put it at the top of your to-do list. It may seem selfish. It may seem impossible at first. But, you must.

And of course, at first, it may well seem forced and uncomfortable. There may be some silent pauses or some stumbling over your words. He may feel quite vulnerable and resentful of having to work so hard, but it gets a lot easier with time and when the rewards start to come (which they will), he’ll see that it’s worth it and can keep going until he makes it. has a habit If he can do this, I guarantee that within a few months, he will no longer be just going through the motions in his marriage.

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