Life and love are funny things, one moment you’re just meeting, and then the next you’re questioning, “Is it normal to lose attraction to my spouse?”
Do you remember way back when? You saw that cute girl or good-looking guy across the room and butterflies settled in where food usually sits. She smiled. He flexed. You convinced your friends to pass a message to each other, and boom…you’re married with a house payment, three kids, and a dog.
Now you see that cute girl or good-looking guy across the room and those butterflies that you used to feel for each other somehow found their way into the baby’s mouth, like all other things. She helps the kids with online school. He gags while changing a poopy diaper. They communicate through text messages but where did the attraction go?
Is it normal to lose attraction to my spouse or partner?
In short, yes! Attraction and affection can change over time. Those early butterfly days actually have a name–it’s called “limerence.” Limerence is a term coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in her book ‘Love and Limerence’. It’s the puppy love, crush, hubba-hubba (cartoon eyes popping out of your head) stage where we become infatuated with that good-looking person across the room.
Terms associated with limerence: involuntary acute infatuation, obsession, and intrusive thoughts about another person. Isn’t love grand!?
This stage of early relationship is our body’s way of ensuring the creation of new life–God designed it to be this way! Our brains tell us that the person over there will make good babies, our bodies agree, and minutes later we are holding hands and staring deeply into each other’s eyes.
But eventually, limerence goes away and the stressors and pressures of life kick in. Tennov estimated that this stage of love can last up to three years. But at some point, love must change.
Read that again. Not only is it normal to change or lose attraction to your spouse–it’s bound to happen!
Your love must transform into something new and different.
Tennov says it this way: “Those whose limerence was replaced by affectional bonding with the same partner might say … ‘We were very much in love when we married; today we love each other very much”.
Shared affection is key to advancing your love. But how do you get there? How do you make your marriage last and your affection stand the test of time? By creating a Culture of Fondness and Appreciation for each other.
The problem is, according to Stan Tatkin, a neuroscientist who studies the brain on love, people are annoying. And last I checked, your spouse is people. It takes work and effort to develop fondness and appreciation.
Ok, great! But how do I regain attraction to my spouse?
If you find yourself questioning, “Is it normal to lose attraction to my partner?” fondness and appreciation sound nice, but what about getting that initial physical or sexual attraction back into your relationship? They actually go hand-in-hand!
Changing your thinking is the best place to start, we recommend trying these two tips to bring the spark back:
Any Cognitive Behavioral Therapist will tell you that the way you think about your world directly relates to the way you behave in your world. While dating my wife, I realized one of the reasons I wanted to marry her was because she was the sweetest person I had ever met. So, every morning when I wake up, I remind myself, “I married the sweetest woman I have ever known.” This reminds me of the initial feelings that I had about my wife; thus, invites attraction back into my marriage.
CALL IT OUT
Start with this simple, practical step to be more attracted to your spouse. Brainstorm one positive adjective that describes your partner or choose one from the list below. Now set a reminder for just after you wake up, at lunchtime, and before bed on your phone. This reminder can read something like “My wife is _________.”
Look for those moments each day where you see that positive adjective at play and share it with your partner. For instance, I am focusing on how my wife is the sweetest person I’ve ever known. She makes breakfast for me, so I tell her “Thank you for breakfast–you are incredibly sweet for thinking of me.”
To go the extra mile: sit with your spouse and talk about the reasons you chose the adjective you did. Explain what made this attribute important to you, and how they live it out. Invite them to do this activity themselves, and ask if there are ways you can better reflect the positive attribute they value in you, back to them.
The feeling of love is the gateway to emotional intimacy. While it’s nice for your spouse to hear that you love them, it is even nicer to hear WHY you love them.
Remembering the feelings you experienced at the beginning of your relationship, and noticing the ongoing positive attributes of your spouse will lead to intimacy and rebuilding attraction in your relationship.
We believe that it is normal for attraction to your spouse to go up and down over the years, but we also believe that the best and healthiest marriages work to keep the intimacy over the years. We have a team of talented counselors who would love to come alongside you and your spouse to build attraction in marriage.
Our counselors have a lot to say about marriage! Check out blogs related to this one:
Author: patrick herzer
Patrick is one of our talented Christian counselors who love to come alongside couples to create healthy, long-lasting marriages full of life and happiness.
If you’re interested in counseling with Patrick or another one of our other amazing counselors, click here to view our line-up.