There are jokes about it, stories you hear, and books on the subject. But when the passion leaves your marriage or partnership, it can feel downright frustrating and empty.
Kristi told me how wonderful her husband had been on her birthday. She enjoyed breakfast in bed, a bubble bath, an afternoon shopping and then a dinner date at her favorite restaurant. From this and other stories she had told me, Kristi and Marc were still very much in love. There was so much companionship and respect between them.
It shocked me when she said, “Marc and I are great friends, but our passion has dwindled. We are so busy with our careers, the kids, etc. When we do have time alone, there is so much “business” to attend to – who will take Jack to the dentist tomorrow? What should we bring to the office party?” She paused, “After we cover that, we share stories about the kids, plan our schedules for the next day and go to bed. It’s like we have shut down the passionate part of ourselves.”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, where is your passion level now and where would you like it to be?”
“Right now it’s about a 2; I’d like it to be at least an 8,” she said.
“How did you two meet?”
She told her story with a romantic look in her eyes. “We met at a wedding nine years ago. I didn’t like going to weddings. It was just too much ‘happily ever after’ for me, and I was sure I would never meet my knight in shining armor.”
“I had to attend because I was a bridesmaid. Marc and I met at the reception. He was easy to talk to and there was an instant attraction. We danced and talked all evening. Our first date was the 4th of July festival the following weekend. We had dinner and just enjoyed each other. We waited to become intimate, but when we did, it was so romantic.”
“What keeps you from being intimate now?”
“Between our careers and the family obligations, we run out of time and energy. Plus I don’t really see him as a lover; I see him as a father and as my partner.”
“How could you begin to see him more through the eyes of a lover?”
She paused. “Wow! I haven’t done that in a long time!”
“What is the most romantic moment you can remember with Marc?” I asked.
“I had finished my finals during my senior year. Marc knew how stressed I had been so he greeted me as I left my last test with a rose in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other. He drove me to a beautiful canyon and we sat on the rock and celebrated, drinking champagne, eating a picnic lunch and talking about the future. It was very romantic.”
“How can you re-capture those romantic feelings and bring them our more frequently?”
“Just recalling that memory helps me remember and see him more romantically. In fact, I have several romantic memories. Maybe I could write a couple of my memories in a journal to give him on Father’s Day. I will get the kids taken care of so we can have time to ourselves. It’s not that I’m not attracted to Marc; it’s that I don’t take the time to think about him romantically.”
“Will you get the journal, write the story and make the arrangements in the next two weeks?”
“Yes. I’m excited to do this. Just thinking about it reminds me of when we were first dating. I’ll get right on it. What a great Father’s Day present; Marc didn’t become a father without a little romance between us!”
Coaching Challenge: If you are in a romantic relationship where you are still in love, but the dynamics have become routine or passionless, remember a romantic time you have shared. Recall as many details as possible – where you were, the weather, what you were wearing, any other sensations, etc. Talk to your partner about your desire to increase the passion between you and share your memory, “Do you remember when we…?” Ask your partner what memories he or she has and together recall the details.