Jason and Kendra have been married for 12 years and have three children. Most of their conversations are about work, chores, their kid’s activities, and mundane aspects of their stale marriage.
Kendra puts it like this: “I love Jason, but the passion just isn’t there anymore.”
When Kendra drops this bombshell, Jason responds, “I thought we were doing okay, I really did. Even though we don’t have sex much anymore, it just seems like a phase we’re going through. I don’t have any energy left by the time I hit the bed at night.”
By all accounts, Kendra and Jason were passionate during the early years of their marriage. However, over the last few years, their sex life has dwindled and they rarely spend time together without their children. Kendra seeks out Jason for sexual intimacy and Jason often pulls away.
According to experts, the most common reason couples lose their passion for each other and stop being sexually intimate is a pursuer-distancer pattern that develops over time. Dr. Sue Johnson identifies the pattern of demand-withdraw as the “Protest Polka” and says it is one of three “Demon Dialogues.” She explains that when one partner becomes critical and aggressive, the other often becomes defensive and distant.
Dr. John Gottman’s research on thousands of couples discovered partners that get stuck in this pattern in the first few years of marriage have more than an 80% chance of divorcing in the first four to five years.
Foster Emotional Intimacy
A good sexual relationship is built on emotional intimacy and closeness. In other words, if you’re hoping to improve your physical relationship, you need to first work on your emotional connection. Focus on meeting your partner’s needs and communicating your own needs in a loving, respectful way.
In The Science of Trust, Dr. Gottman explains that couples who want to rekindle their passion and love need to turn towards each other. Practicing emotional attunement can help you stay connected even when you disagree. This means turning toward one another by showing empathy, instead of being defensive. Both partners need to talk about their feelings in terms of positive need, instead of what they do not need.
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