People often ask me how to keep that desire burning in their marriage or relationship. Many relationships have become a partnership of responsibility or a great friendship but the physical attraction and intimacy is gone. Why is it we lose that lusty feeling? And how do we keep desire for our partner alive?
There are many complex aspects of an intimate relationship, but part of the answer to this mystery is actually quite surprising and is contrary to much of what we have been told about intimate connection. The answer is that separation is good for desire!
I don’t mean legal separation; I mean the kind of separation in which a couple doesn’t wear matching holiday sweaters and do absolutely everything together. It is actually good for connection and attraction when we retain a semblance of our own identity, interests and space. Many of us believe the opposite, even if it’s at an unconscious level.
For example, when I took a vacation without my husband last year many people asked me if everything was OK?
Or even better, I received comments from some that they were surprised that he was letting me go without him.
The truth is my husband, Ian, and I have different interests and we honour that in each other. I love yoga and he loves fishing. That’s OK. We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we recognize each other as separate, interesting and alive people. After 10 years of marriage and 14 years of intimacy, we are still going strong in part because we allow some space in our relationship and respect each other’s individuality.
Thanks to the cultural mythology about love and relationships, we often believe the “you complete me” nonsense, which suggests that separation, individualism and even differences are bad and an indication that we must not be in love. We therefore tend to smother our relationships with sameness, always togetherness and the belief that if we don’t like all the same things, there is a problem.
Of course, we need to make time to connect, and ensure we are actually present to each other when we are together (put down the iPhone, please). We need common goals, interests and ideas, but we also need space to create longing and attraction. We must remember what it was about this person that drew us in in the first place and allow that to continue to shine. Just like a fire needs a little air to roar, your relationship may need it, too.
Shasta Townsend shares her passion for living well as a featured columnist at Elephant Journal, The Good Men Project, Rebelle Society and Vivid Life. Shasta leads retreats, workshops and talks around the world. She lives in Whitby with her husband, cat and creative impulse. Her debut book, Happy, Sexy, Shameless: What Our Mothers Didn’t Know About the Birds and the Bees became an international bestseller and is available through amazon.ca.
connect with shasta at shastatownsend.com,
on facebook or on twitter @shastaherself