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Experience Long-Lasting Passion In Your Marriage Through Focusing On Emotional Intimacy

Written by: Alexandra Stockwell, MD, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

In a long-lasting relationship, enjoying ongoing passion rarely comes with focusing on just the physical aspect of the relationship. Is it true that new positions, role play, or unusual adventures have a part to play? Of course. However, physical intimacy is not enough to create and maintain long-lasting passion.

So much more is needed. We must be willing to find the courage to be open and emotionally intimate with our partners, because that is actually the key to deepening, expansive passion.


For our purposes here, let’s first define “passion” and “long-lasting passion” before we dive further into what it takes to create real intimacy.


What Is “Passion”?


We all know what it means but let’s get specific. This is taken from dictionary.com’s definition of “passion’:

any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling.

strong sexual desire; lust.

a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything:


Passion has intensity and can feel consuming. It’s glorious and makes you feel alive and driven. It creates technicolor sensations in contrast to the gray colors life sometimes offers.

Let’s face it, adulting can become boring and monotonous and one of the very best ways to stay engaged and gratified is through enjoying a rich sensual connection with your partner, with many moments of shared passion.


Most (though certainly not all) relationships begin with this level of passion, especially in the arena of physical intimacy. It is a great experience and makes you feel alive! The butterflies of those early days, and the pleasure it brings are incredible. However, that kind of passion, or excitement, can only last so long.


Why Does Passion With My Partner Wane Over Time?


Early passion slowly erodes (sometimes quickly) in the face of work routines, parenting, social lives, and other responsibilities. In addition, the comfort and familiarity that develops over time functionally strip away the vibrant layers of newness and its accompanying intensity.


Over time, the stripping away process makes room for a more stable core of partnership, a stable core that is welcome and appealing and cannot exist in the early passionate stages of a relationship. But establishing that yearned for steadiness comes with a cost.


While the comfort of a stable core partnership is what most seek out, they want to simultaneously retain the newness and intensity (and uncertainty) of a new relationship. Therein lies a fundamental contradiction in how we approach our passion. We cultivate stability yet we yearn for the unfamiliar. The cycle goes something like this. We grow older. We become more familiar. It feels good. Then we change. We get bored. We wonder what is missing. And so the cycle continues, and in the process passion dissipates with the advent of the familiar. We yearn for what is lost while wanting to maintain the stability we’ve established.


You’re not the only one feeling this way. It’s all of us. It’s the human condition to be passionate about the “new thing” – whatever that might be. And it’s also the human condition to want safety and security in partnership.


So what are we to do? The unequivocal answer is to cultivate long-lasting passion, to pursue unpredictable sensations, emotional closeness, and also the stability and comfort of a long-lasting committed relationship.


What Makes “Long-Lasting Passion” Possible?


The good news is that being attuned to the familiar does not mean the end of passion. Rather, it means the beginning of a new and more mature, and more nuanced journey. Yes early passion fuels the steamy elements of your relationship at the beginning, but the journey forward towards long-lasting passion is much more satisfying, intentional, and erotic. And it begins with one major step: being willing to not compromise.


The key to passion and fulfillment, intimacy and success, isn’t compromised ‒ it’s being unwilling to compromise. To compromise means giving up on your dreams, acquiescing, pretending the way you’ve always done things still works for you. The alternative is to acknowledge the truth of your relationship and where it is right now, to share what is real for each of you and what will make you happy now.


Long-lasting passion requires both partners to be responsible for the well being of their relationship. They must understand each has a role to play and it starts with knowing their own desires and being willing to share them with one another...The days are over when it’s going to work for the wife to plan the dates, and when it’s expected that the husband will initiate physical intimacy. Long-lasting passion requires new awareness, new roles and the creation of new experiences with one another.


After all, relationships grow with time. People age and their tastes evolve. While this might seem antithetical to vibrancy and wellbeing within a marriage, it is actually quite the opposite. When you tap into it, these changes in a couple can be stimulating, inspirational, unexpected, and a source of delight.


Maybe “going to the bars” is what you loved when you first started dating, and it is no longer appealing. Perhaps your love of antiquing brought you together in the first place, but now you have too many commitments with your children to make the spur-of-the-moment trips you once loved. Perhaps it was lazy Saturday brunches that fueled your connection, and you can’t remember when you had an open weekend to enjoy together. However, you used to connect, don’t for a minute believe you need that setting or that activity to feel the depth of how connected you are. Those times may not be at the forefront of your daily lives but they still permeate the air of your relationship.


Think of your initial bonds of connectivity like the “core memories” from Pixar’s Inside Out. In the film, core memories is the term used to describe the major events in Riley’s life which are always present in her memory bank. They NEVER go away. There are other memories Riley accrues which are forgotten, discarded, or replaced over time and these new memories help her evolve into a new version of herself with each passing year. Even as she evolves with the new memories, Riley’s core memories never fade, because they are the foundation of her personality.


What Is “True Intimacy”?


As with Riley’s inner growth, your relationship will always have the core memories you and your spouse share; the internalized experience of delicious connection and joy will always play a significant role in your relationship. But as you create new memories, life experiences, hurts, angers, and joys it’s important to choose which memories to let go of, which to hold on to, and which ones to build on through amplification and expansion. The colors and textures in the fabric of your marriage can become even more beautiful and varied so long as you remain intentional throughout the process.


You’ll grow. You’ll change. You’ll evolve.


And so will your spouse, in ways that are similar and different from how you change.


So what am I saying here? Basically, what worked before will not work as well now, because you are different people. This is not a problem. In fact, if you line it up well, it’s wonderful. It means you don’t get to settle or get too comfortable. It does mean you need to be open, and interested. Make a point of being self-aware about your own changes and convey them to your spouse, and be fascinated by their changes. Acceptance and acknowledgement of what is happening, in this way, is what will set you up for a lifetime of long-lasting passion and magnificent intimacy.


You see, real intimacy is interwoven with the experience of long-lasting passion, and vice versa. To experience them requires constant reinvention, new ways to communicate, a willingness to learn with and from one another.


Is it always joyful? Definitely not. Is it always easy? Definitely not. Is it absolutely 100% worth it? Unquestionably! When both people feel free to be themselves, know how to love and be loved for exactly who they are, and the fidelity of their relationship is uncompromised, then the relationship is juicy, nourishing, and deeply satisfying. Wondering how to create this? Curiosity, honesty, and vulnerability are three keys; they are essential to create and maintain long lasting passion and ongoing erotic gratification.


Why You Are Here


Perhaps you are reading this article because you are unhappy with the level of passion or the quality of intimacy of your marriage. Perhaps it’s pretty good but you want to know how to nurture it, so it gets better and better, and better!


Regardless of your current situation, please know so much more is possible! No matter where you are in your relationship now, it’s a great time to put more deliberate attention into your relationship and implement what I am writing about. I myself have been married for 26 years and my husband and I have gone through some very low times, but we now enjoy an extraordinary relationship that is filled with playfulness and long-lasting passion.


Remember Why You Are Together


When couples are on a downswing in their relationship, they tend to focus on what is not working. Shortcomings and petty differences form the fuel to obsess about the ways they have each been hurt.


It is natural to look at your partner and see them as a source of misery and consistent disappointment. Perhaps you are in the process of saying to yourself, “oh if she would simply do this” or, “man, why can’t he do that ‒ he used to do that and now he doesn’t care.” Again, it’s normal. But it is not productive.


One way to counter that tendency is to think back to what originally drew you together. Share it with one another, and enjoy recounting what you found attractive in each other. I have assigned this activity to hundreds of couples and typically, when you do this, you’ll find yourself hearing things, and sharing things, that have never been spoken aloud.


Sharing in this way is immediately healing; it will open your hearts because it will have you feel seen, admired, and appreciated. Moreover, it will help you reconnect to the mutual commitment you both have to your relationship and to one another’s well-being. (You’ll be tapping into some of your most important “core memories.”) Once you access these memories and enjoy them again, it is time to move on to what you can look forward to in the future.


Cultivate Curiosity In The Future Of Your Relationship


Do you remember wanting to know everything about your partner when you first got together? Most likely, you were curious about all kinds of things: their favorite food, if they like to travel, their secret celebrity crush, how they got that scar, and if they truly, honestly, believed Han shot first.


All these details were fresh and new, and the answers fascinating. But as life unfolded and you grew very familiar with your partner, it became rare for such questions to be asked.

Familiarity feels wonderful, however it diminishes curiosity and you naturally ask fewer and fewer questions.


Your attention shifts elsewhere, and your innate desire to learn about your partner wanes. You slip into a state of routine and familiarity.


But as discussed above, people are constantly evolving. Many aspects of your lives are different today than they were one, five, or twenty years ago. Your partner is not the same person you married. So take the time to get to know them again.

7 Questions To Start The Conversation:

  1. What is your earliest memory of being successful?

  2. Which was your all-time favorite birthday celebration?

  3. What are you daydreaming about these days?

  4. What is the most challenging part of your work?

  5. What was the most satisfying aspect of the past week?

  6. What music do you listen to as you commute to work?

  7. Where do you see us in 5 years?

Open-ended questions are one of the best ways to revive a relationship that has become a bit rote. Continue learning about your partner because there is always something new to learn! After you ask relatively straightforward questions, start asking questions that may feel a bit dangerous to explore.


Understand That Honesty Can Be Challenging


Don't ask a question that will open up new and potentially confronting topics unless you are open to hearing the truth. If you think you are ready to hear the truth, then ask with care. If you find you don’t like the answer, still listen, and do your best not to judge if you want your partner to feel they can speak the truth to you in the future.


These precautions are for questions such as: What turns you on? What turns you off? What is your love language? What are your 5 most important values? Are you happy with our sexual partnership? Are there other kinds of experiences you want to have?


Be Willing To Be Vulnerable

One of the most important things to remember is that how you say something makes all the difference. So when you are asking a challenging question or expressing something while being honest, be careful not to have an aggressive tone or a defensive stance. Instead, be vulnerable. Use a soft tone and a gentle pace. Be warm, and have open body language. When you say something honest that might drive you further apart, do so with vulnerability. When you do, it can bring you closer together instead.


You Can Experience More Intimacy


When I coach clients struggling with intimacy, I find that most couples believe the solution lies in the bedroom. But having fun in the bedroom is a symptom of intimacy, not the cause. When you focus on remembering why you are together, being curious, communicating with honesty and vulnerability, you’ll feel sexier and more attracted to one another. Those are all things you can do together no matter how long you have been with one another, and that is why long-lasting passion is not a pipedream but a glorious reality for those couples willing to invest in their relationships.


I want this for all couples, including you. I hope you try out my approach and then feel free to reach out with questions and tell me how it goes, I can help you create the deliciousness & joy of a growth-oriented, passionate relationship.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about stoking the passion in your relationship, read my book Uncompromising Intimacy.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Alexandra Stockwell, MD, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Known as “The Intimacy Doctor,” Dr. Alexandra Stockwell is an Intimate Marriage Expert who specializes in coaching couples to build beautiful, long-lasting, passionate relationships.

For over 20 years Dr. Alexandra has shown men and women how to bring pleasure and purpose into all aspects of life, from the daily grind of running a household to intimate communication and ecstatic experiences in the bedroom.

A wife of twenty-six years and a mother of four, Alexandra firmly believes the key to passion and fulfillment isn’t compromise ‒ it’s being unwilling to compromise. When both partners feel free to be themselves, their relationship becomes juicy, nourishing, and deeply satisfying.

Dr. Alexandra is the bestselling author of “Uncompromising Intimacy” and host of The Intimate Marriage Podcast.

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