One of the most common complaints I hear in my private relationship coaching practice goes something like this:
“I just wish we could be close again. It used to be so easy”
“Erin, we’re just not having sex anymore!”
You might think I hear the first one from mostly women and the second from the fellas.
But you’d be mistaken.
I hear both of these comments from women and men.
Sometimes, the arrival of a new baby has derailed the chemistry a couple has enjoyed in their relationship. In other cases, increased work demands, financial stress, or a crisis such as infidelity has nixed the boudoir bom diggity.
Recently, I worked with a couple grappling with just this kind of crisis. They courageously worked very, very hard to get to the roots of what caused the affair (it’s almost never about the sex, but often about wanting to FEEL like someone is engaged, interested, or fascinated by you).
This couple did the work to rebuild trust and closeness, one step at a time.
During our last session, the Mrs. literally bounced into my office and announced, “My husband and I just had the best sex of my LIFE!”
She and her partner have been married for thirteen years.
How is sustainable passion possible – even after an affair?
The major challenges couples experience in keeping the passion alive are fairly straightforward: boredom, disconnection, and – most dangerously – an overall lack of engagement with one another.
In other words, they’re living together, eating together, sleeping together – but they’re not fundamentally and mutually interested in one another’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
While a dozen long stem roses or a candlelit dinner can be lovely, welcome, and sexy – and can temporarily breathe life into those satin sheets again – most folks are seeking a way to create sustainable passion; the kind that ignites even in the absence of lingerie, bedroom condiments, and sweeping romantic gestures.
And there is ONE quality, ONE area of relationships that can deliver the sparks, the come hither looks, and the magic year after year…after decade.
The problem is, it gets overlooked because it doesn’t sound that romantic. It doesn’t show up in movies and TV shows as THE irreplaceable ingredient to lasting passion.
And for this reason, when I introduce it as the VitaMix par excellence that will get the juices flowing over and over and over again…folks are sometimes astounded. Astonished. And maybe a tad skeptical.
The secret ingredient to enduring passion…is curiosity.
Stay with me, now. I’ve seen this work time and time again.
Remember when you were in the honeymoon phase? Your sweetheart or lover was SO interested in everything about you – your interests, your politics, your hopes, dreams, and aspirations!
Remember the late night calls, long emails, and rambling text messages?
Everything about you was a juicy, delicious mango that your new love wanted to explore and experience to the fullest.
S/he wanted to know you, see you, get you – and everything about you.
In other words, they were CURIOUS about…you.
Wasn’t it amazing to have someone be so into you?
Wasn’t it just incredibly HOT to see and hear and feel someone just want more and more of…you?
The trouble, however, is this: curiosity has to be cultivated!
I’ll put it another way:
One of the surest ways to kill passion is to assume you know everything there is to know about your lover – to stop asking questions, stop striving to “glimpse their hiddenness” (Hendrix, 2008: 136).
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married for fifty years – though I celebrate this accomplishment, truly.
When it comes to cultivating curiosity, there’s always more to uncover and discover about another human being.
For one thing, people are always evolving: we are all moving targets, forever in the process of becoming, as they say.
For another, human consciousness is infinite – and the capacity of the heart is eternally expanding. Believe it.
Should you be blessed with a full and long life together…there will still be things you simply don’t have time to discover about one another: unexplored, emerging, or evolving character traits, beauty, and yearnings live within your lover.
Not even a lifetime is long enough to fully come to know them all.
But you can sure as hell try!
A relationship is a living, breathing thing.
Like any living thing, a relationship needs to be nourished. It requires care, feeding, and tending so it can flourish and thrive – passionately!
And the one irreplaceable ‘nutrient’ a relationship MUST have if you want sustainable passion…is curiosity.
So if you’ve lost your curiosity about your lover, start asking questions – of them, and of yourself.
Don’t assume you know what they mean, what they feel, what they think, what their motivation or intention is.
Ask. Please ask.
Also, ask yourself questions like, “Am I assuming I know what s/he is REALLY thinking, feeling, meaning?”
Gently notice and step back from these assumptions and interpretations.
And don’t, please don’t fall into the TRAP of saying to yourself, “I know my spouse better than anybody!”
Remember: your mom said this about you, too – usually right after she reminded you that she changed your diapers.
As much as you’ve changed since you were in Pampers? You will change that much and more – so much more – between the age of 20 or 30 and 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 years of age.
It’s like there are multiple incarnations of you waiting to be born in this one lifetime.
Here’s the best part: if you’re in a committed relationship, you GET TO discover this person again and again. Just like you did in the beginning!
Instead of being the ‘expert’ on your other-half, be the most engaged, avid explorer of their inner world, their always-emerging newness – as well as the outer expressions of who they are (forever) becoming.
Then, as you cultivate your curiosity about your lover day after day…watch and delight in how they respond.
Watch how their inner light turns on and turns up as they feel your keen interest, your curiosity…your passion to (re)discover and appreciate every little thing about them.
Then, enjoy the lifelong sparks that fly within you…and between you.
If you’re curious about how Relationship Coaching can transform your relationships – whether you’re single, content in your marriage, or struggling through a rough patch – I’m offering you a chance to get me one-on-one for a complimentary, 45-minute Relationship Reboot Strategy Session.
Saddle up your biggest relationship wish – and let’s get you on track. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org right now and we’ll schedule your session in a hot minute!
Note: I only offer two of these Relationship Reboot Strategy Sessions per week and exclusively to professionals who are serious about creating hot, happy, and healthy relationships. If that is you, shoot me an email asap so we can get you scheduled in. Talk to you soon!