Security Vs. Passion l June 2014
“We love each other. We have a good relationship. But there’s not much happening in the bedroom.”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone; low sexual desire within long-term marriage is rampant. Many marriage counselors believe it stems from the age-old conundrum of two competing human needs: security versus passion. What encourages the former tends to discourage the latter. We go into marriage seeking the secure attachment that’s built on reliability, stability, predictability, and safety in a partner. But those qualities are the opposite of what fuels erotic desire: mystery, novelty, unpredictability, even risk.1
Put another way, maintaining erotic desire requires balancing togetherness and separateness. Too much togetherness (and not enough autonomy) can smother a partner’s erotic appeal, precluding the sense of mystery or novelty that was once present. If you know everything about me, if I agree with all that you say or think, if my every move is predictable and there are never any surprises, can I really expect that you’ll find in me the allure of mystery?
Here are some pathways that might fuel erotic desire in your relationship:
- Pursue novelty and adventure as a couple. Visit new places; deviate sometimes from your familiar highways and byways to bring the unknown and unpredictable into your shared life.
- Cultivate some separate friends and hobbies so there’s occasional mystery — not secrecy — to your day and your routine. Your partner’s curiosity about how you’ve spent your time can be a sign that you’re preserving healthy autonomy within your relationship.
- Give yourselves permission to openly acknowledge your attractions to others — to characters in film or television, to men and women across the room at a party — while assuring your partner that admiring isn’t the same as straying. Don’t silence your partner’s erotic musings just to protect yourself from feelings of jealousy or inadequacy. Find a healthy way to deal with those feelings without shutting down the freedom to say, “That guy’s hot!”
- Read erotic books aloud (try it while soaking in a tub together) or blush while watching adult movies side-by-side.
- Find imaginative ways to share sexual daydreams and fantasies, things you’ve kept private up to now. The disclosure might come as a provocative and stimulating surprise: you’re a bit less familiar than before.
Enhancing erotic desire takes intention and planning; it won’t happen automatically or spontaneously. Seize the day.
1Perel, Esther. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. (New York: Harper Perennial) 2007.