Today’s post is adapted from my workbook, How to Spice Up Your Relationship. Many of the couples who seek marriage/relationship help and counseling fall into sexual ruts—their once passionate marriage has turned into a sexless marriage/relationship.
You might be surprised to find that many of the marriage/relationship problems around sex and passion arise from the mindsets that couples develop—an anti-passion attitude can extinguish even the healthiest of libidos.
Here’s an excerpt from my Passion, Sex & Intimacy workbook:
Nurture your sexual attitude.
Remember that having a sexy mind is one of the best aphrodisiacs available to you. Passion and sensuality start with a particular attitude and mindset. The most important part of this attitude involves giving yourself permission to be playful and provocative with your partner. Without permission, you will remain inhibited and lose the freedom necessary to have a fulfilling sex life. Learn to give yourself permission to have fun with your partner.
The sex research pioneers Masters and Johnson talk about the importance of taking the time to think about yourself as a sexual person. Your sexual self is an important part of who you are and shouldn’t be hidden from your partner or thought of as something shameful or embarrassing. Whether you choose to have sex often or not is less important than the acknowledgment that your sexuality can be an important part of the fabric of your relationship. Unfortunately, many people struggle with and are conflicted over their sexuality. This can lead to feelings of estrangement, denial and defensiveness about one’s sexual self.
Think of an “attitude” as a type of script that you’ve learned throughout your life. For instance, if your parents told you to share with your siblings, you might hold the script: “I’m supposed to share with others” or “Sharing with my sister makes my parents happy, so I shouldn’t be mean to my sister.” Throughout your life you’ve developed thousands of scripts that shape and guide your behavior and reactions. When you become aware of any relationship destructive scripts (e.g., “I can’t trust anybody”), it is important to examine the evidence that supports and contradicts this script. You can also re-write negative scripts in order to empower your relationship. (See the “Take Control of Your Relationship: Don’t Let Your Past Dictate Your Future” workbook for an in-depth discussion of how to use scripts to build a stronger relationship).
Passionate Marriage Action Plan:
Negative attitudes about sex undermine the level of physical intimacy you and your partner will be able to create. You may be fully conscious of these attitudes, but often these anti-sex scripts exist just behind your consciousness. Teasing out your attitudes and feelings about sex can play an important role in increasing passion and meaningful lovemaking.
If you believe you hold any scripts that inhibit you, list them below:
Where did you learn these attitudes/scripts? What purpose do they currently serve in your life and, more specifically, in your marriage or relationship?
Rewrite your inhibiting, anti-permission scripts listed above into pro-intimacy, pro-lovemaking scripts (e.g. “I’m too old to be playful” becomes “I’m full of life and I have the right to celebrate this with my spouse/partner”):
To find out more about how to keep the fires of passion burning, check out How to Spice Up Your Relationship.
Dr. Rich Nicastro