You could feel your desire growing when you were dating.
Author Mark Gungor describes it as a “spark that affirms in your gut, 'I want to be with that person for the rest of my life.'” Then you got married, and, for many couples, the spark seemed to die.
You say you “love” your spouse, but you're not “in love” anymore. The desire is gone. This often marks the end of a marriage, because as Gungor explains, “desire is the lifeblood of any relationship.”
It helps to be aware of four things that can kill desire if you want to keep your marriage healthy:
•Disappointment: Today we're bombarded with the message that our “one true love” is out there and will fulfill our every dream. Then we get married and, as Gungor puts it, “she assumes he will (fill in the blank), and he assumes she will (fill in the blank), and she feels he was inconsiderate to (fill in the blank), and he feels she was expecting too much when she (fill in the blank); and there they sit — disappointed.”
Disappointments frequently result from expectations that are either unrealistic or not communicated. You don't say what you need and then sulk in disappointment when it's not done, while your desire for your spouse diminishes.
It helps to rethink your expectations, keep them realistic and talk about them with your spouse. Develop a set of clearly defined and mutually acceptable expectations for each of you and the future of your marriage.
•Offense: Gungor explains that, the closer people are, “the easier it is to 'let it all hang out' and 'dump' on them.” Sadly, research has consistently found this to be true.
It isn't possible to live in close proximity to someone without eventually causing offense. But the next time you feel like dumping on your spouse, remember this is the person you vowed to love. If the stress gets the best of you anyway, keep your outburst to a minimum and then be quick to apologize.
If you're the one taking offense, try to understand that stresses happen and your spouse will say things he or she will quickly regret. Try not to take offense too easily, but when it happens, also be quick to forgive, because next time you may be the one needing forgiveness.
•Lack of attention: We desire what attracts our attention in a positive way. But the reverse is also true: By focusing our attention in a positive way on something, we'll begin to desire it. Sadly, we often take our spouse and our marriage for granted and stop paying attention to either. Gungor warns that “desire leaves most subtly through lack of attention.”
Gungor explains that he often spends time simply looking at his wife, whether it's at home or at the mall.
“I've discovered that my desire for her rises in direct proportion to the amount of attention I give her,” he says.
•Lack of appreciation: We all want to be appreciated. And we're drawn to people who appreciate us.
“When you make your spouse feel appreciated, you foster a new openness and freshness in your relationship,” Gungor notes.
The more you appreciate your spouse, the more you'll desire each other. Likewise, the less you show appreciation, the less desire you'll have and the less desire your spouse will feel.
By developing realistic expectations with your spouse; minimizing the number of offenses you inflict, and apologizing when you do; paying attention to your spouse; and actively showing appreciation, you'll find that your level of desire will continue to grow throughout your marriage.
©2012, All Rights Reserved. James Sheridan’s website is www.marriagedoneright.com. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.