All long-term relationships experience times when love and affection are easy, as well as times when they feel forced or impossible. While this is normal, doubts may begin to rise. You may wonder if you are still in love. You might doubt you can overcome the rut in your sexual life together. You may even begin to wonder if you chose the right partner. Doubts are normal and part of the ebb and flow of any relationship. The way you address these feelings is what matters.
Take an Active Approach
Treat affection like a commitment rather than a feeling. As with a new exercise routine, such as running. You cannot wait until you feel like running. You have to run first, and make it a commitment. Then, you start to anticipate running and the good feelings that come with it. Commit to be more affectionate before you feel like it.
If you are in a rut, feeling awkward at first is to be expected when reintroducing physical affection. All new habits are awkward in the beginning. Start with an easy kiss goodbye in the morning or holding hands while walking. Maybe all you need, as a first step, is putting down your phone intentionally and looking your partner in the eyes when they speak.
Think Outside the Box
Affection is not always physical. It can take the form of gratitude, thoughtfulness, or warmth. Let your partner know how much you appreciate them. Bring them a coffee, or take care of a task on their “to do” list. Do something extra and unexpected. (Ex: write a note, pick up their favorite treat from the store)
Make Affection a New Habit
Try to be consistent, not mechanical. This means you are affectionate every day, but not always in the same way. Treat your partner how you want to be treated. It is your marriage – make it what you want it to be.
Remember, getting married does not guarantee feeling in love forever, or feeling attracted to your partner at all times. If you want to feel in love, do what you do when you are in love. If you want more affection, be more affectionate. A strong marriage requires regular maintenance. If you have neglected your relationship, it will take time to get back on track. If you want guidance in this process, please contact a Marriage and Family therapist at Keystone Counseling.