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Hi, I’ve been married for 7 years, but I do not love my husband the same way that I used to. I mean I like him more than anyone else in the world, but there is no zing. I love him too but I don’t feel in love with him. It’s hard for me to have physical relationships with him. I don’t want to leave him. I want to fall in love with him and be physically attracted to him. Can you please help me? Thank you
-We Lost our Zing
Dear We Lost our Zing,
Sounds like you may be dealing with the seven-year itch; a psychological term that suggests that contentedness and happiness in a relationship declines after around year seven of a marriage. Divorce rates show a trend in couples that, on average, divorce around seven years. It’s natural for there to be a shift in your relationship. You may feel like you’re in a coasting phase and need a boost of nurturing to help you get the zing back.
Thankfully this is not a death sentence for your marriage. You want to stay in the relationship and that’s exciting! It’s just going to take some work. Couples need to put in effort every day in order to maintain and sustain happy marriages. No matter how long you’ve been together, if you do not prioritize your relationship then your marriage will steadily see decline.
The fact you want to make this work is a great first step forward.
So what does that look like for you? You want to fall back in love! You said it yourself. What a wonderful goal to begin working towards. What this realization has done for you has helped you acknowledge that the honeymoon phase is over. You know you need to put in effort. What aspects of your relationship would you like to change to make better?
Most important is to discuss your feelings and ideas about changing with your partner. If you feel like you need assistance in guiding the discussion and helping explore ways to get back the zing, you may consider the aid of a relationship counselor. The fact you want to make this work is a great first step forward.
Dear We Lost our Zing,
You certainly aren’t alone in your struggles. Losing the zing can be quite common in relationships, particularly as they stretch past 5 years. Approximately 15% of men and 34% of women experienced reduced sexual interest for 3 months or more in the past year. You still want your marriage to last but feel an emotional and physical disconnect from him.
When I hear you say that you like him but don’t love him anymore, my first inclination is that the emotional/relational foundation has crumbled. Since the friendship connection serves as the basis of your relationship, it must be maintained and rebuilt overtime. Maintenance probably isn’t the right word there, since we never stay the same as individuals. It is really critical for partners to grow together in order for the relationship to sustain with time.
Have fun together again and remind yourselves that you do actually like each other.
I would start by attempting to remember what made your relationship zingy in the first place. What did you two share in common or what did you like to do together? You may not want to return to the same activities, but it can give you an idea of what worked before. Have fun together again and remind yourselves that you do actually like each other, without kids or other people in the picture.
Once the friendship is rekindled I would start looking towards the physical aspects again. Barriers to sexual intimacy can be many including individual biological, individual psychological, family of origin, and environmental influences. So if you feel like these are too many to overcome, reach out to a counselor. Anyone experienced in couples work could do the trick, but also know that there are specialists in sexual therapy too.