By Ellen Breslau
We've all been there-your marriage is OK, but not great. You're fighting with your spouse or, worse yet, not talking at all. And sex? Forget it. If you're wondering what happened to your marriage, we've got the fix. Here, marriage counselors and therapists weigh in on great ways to make you and your husband fall in love-and like-again.
Just Do It!
If you haven't had sex in forever, or feel like you and your husband are like roommates, push yourself to the bedroom. "I wish I had a dollar for each time a woman in my practice said, 'I really wasn't in the mood when my husband approached me, but once we got into it, I enjoyed myself a lot,'" says Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW, bestselling author. For many women, sexual desire doesn't just happen-you have to make it happen. "Unlike your more highly sexed spouse, who feels desire before arousal, your body needs to be stimulated before your brain signals that you are turned on," Weiner-Davis says. Think of it like exercising: The hardest part is putting on your sneakers.
Attack the Problem, Not the Person
When you argue, using "you" statements-"You didn't do x and you should have done y" just ratchets up the stress level. All your spouse hears is "you, you, you"- which causes more anger, defensiveness and division. Talk about the problem instead and use "I" statements when saying how it makes you feel, advises Dr. Scott Haltzman, MD, author of The Secrets of Happy Families. And if you can do it calmly, all the better.
Praise Your Husband-Even If You Don't Feel Like It
"People are deeply attracted to people who are interested in them and appreciate them," says Dr. Haltzman. "So shower your partner with interest and adoration, and he or she will keep turning to you to be the center of his or her life." You also might want to make a list of all the positive things your partner does for you and your relationship, says Terri Orbuch, PhD (a.k.a. The Love Doctor), author of the upcoming 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great.
Slowing down your morning routine and just noticing what your partner is wearing can help you get back on track, says Dr. Orbach. "This small behavioral change resets your brain to change speed. You begin to notice your partner, his behaviors, his patterns, his life."
It sounds so basic, but talking often gets lost in the bustle of everyday life. Spend 10 minutes a day (every day!) with your spouse, talking about something other than work, family or who does what around the house. If you don't know where to start, bring up something you saw that day or something you were thinking about.
Bring Back the Fun
"Just like you make work fun, or make that five-hour trip to your parents' house fun, add new dimensions to your marriage, change things up, add new adventure," says Dr. Haltzman. Your goal: one or two new things a month. Some ideas: Take a class together, play paintball or even speak pig Latin to each other for a day. "Get back to things that turned each of you on when you were dating-including the flowers, picking her up at the front doorstep and taking the car parking," he says.
Act Married and Stick It Out
Don't stray. "Fidelity isn't for sissies," says Weiner-Davis. "People think if they are unhappy, that there is a problem in their marriage. But up to 80 percent of individuals consider divorce at some time," says Dr. Haltzman. There is little difference, he says, between couples who divorce and those who stick it out. "The real difference is the ones who stuck it out have moved past the problem and have moved ahead to feel closer-in no small part because they went through the rough spot together."
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8 Reasons He Doesn't Want to Have Sex
By Ellen Breslau