Q: I want my marriage to work. It’s the right thing for my kids, plus I am afraid of being alone with 2 children. My husband is a good man. Good men are hard to find. At the same time, I don’t feel that physical connection with him anymore. I don’t even like him touching me, but I am extremely physically attracted to someone else. Why is it that this other man can make me feel so good and my husband can no longer do this for me? What should I do? – Woman in a Marriage Crisis
Dear Woman in a Marriage Crisis,
Just like nearly everything in life, no relationship is perfect. One man might be a great lover, but not a great conversationalist. Another might be a great provider, but a terrible lover. Few if any people have every single quality we desire in a mate.
Once you allow yourself to accept this fact, you’ll have a much easier time seeing the shortcomings of your marriage as problems that you can solve over time. Rather than seeing your lack of attraction to your husband as a fatal flaw—one that can only be solved by either replacing him or cheating on him—you’ll look into ways to build a healthy attraction.
Excluding that temporary insanity that most of us feel during the early days of a relationship, long-term attraction is not a magical quality that you either have or don’t. You can create it. I know this because I did just that in my own marriage. A few years ago, I would have rather had all of my toenails extracted than have sex with my husband. Now I look forward to it (the sex, not the toe nail removal).
This is what I recommend:
* Launch Project: Attraction. Tell your husband about it. Explain that your yearning for him has waned over the years and that you’d like to get it back. Be honest. Reveal your weakness for other men. Tell him that you want your marriage to work and that you don’t want to have an affair, but you are afraid that you might. Ask him to help you fall back in love with him.
* Start having sex on a regular basis, even if you don’t want to do it. Sex helps build a connection that will turn into a healthy attraction over time.
* Deal with any turn-offs. If he needs dental care, tell him. If he needs to spend more time on personal hygiene, tell him.
* Teach him how to romance you. Give him an instruction manual.
* Teach him how to please you in bed. Again, if needed, given him an instruction manual. Also, add variety to your sex life. In long-term relationships, monogamy often turns into sexual monotony, but it doesn’t have to. Be creative and be willing to try new things.
* Touch often. It’s really the simple things that keep a marriage going. Hug before you leave the house or when you come home. Hold hands. Sit closely on the couch. Stroke his arm or pat his back. Constantly be looking for new ways to have skin-to-skin contact.
* Be transparent. Allow him to know the real you and vice versa. The more you get to know each other on a deeper level, the more your attraction will grow.
* Put on blinders. It’s normal to occasionally feel attracted to other people. You’re married. You’re not a eunuch (or whatever the female version of one would be called). You can look, but you can’t touch. Practice the art of healthy self-control. Learn how to release your attachment to wanting it all. Learn how to be happy with the wonderful man you already have.
Do you have advice for Woman in a Marriage Crisis? Leave a comment.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.