You found your "soul mate," dated, fell madly in love and before long you were fantasizing about what your wedding and wedding night would be like.
The wedding night came, and it was wonderful and so were the weeks and months that followed. As you slowly get down to the business of being married, the tasks and decisions of real life hit you square in the face. You look up and a couple of years have passed. You have a home, and your roles in married life are down to a routine. You think about how the next five years will be and, all of the sudden, you realize that your romantic life is as routine as household chores. The routine doesn't have the magic it once had, and you wonder, "Did I really marry my soul mate?"
Does this description fit your marriage?
"For many people, this is an all too familiar story," says Dr. Pat Love, author, speaker and educator. "People find this very disconcerting. They know couples who are talking divorce, which makes the lack of passion in their own marriage a bit more concerning.
"Couples have the baby, the recession, responsibilities, job insecurity and so many irons in the fire that the fire has gone out of the bedroom. Their commitment is strong, yet there is this gnawing worry that maybe they should be doing something to flame the embers and get the fire going again."
What most couples are never told is that during the first two years of marriage you get a free dopamine ride. Everything is new and exciting and couples have an elevated sex drive. After the two-year mark, dopamine levels drop and spouses begin to wonder what is wrong, but rarely do they ever have a conversation about what is happening in their relationship.
"These disconcerting thoughts can lead to arguments about things that don't have anything to do with the real issue at hand -- what has happened to us?," says Love. "Research shows that talking about sex during the first year is correlated with high marital satisfaction for men and discussions after the first year are highly correlated with female satisfaction in marriage.
"If you can't talk about it in a healthy productive way, both spouses are likely to be dissatisfied which quickly moves to discontentment which can lead to the dissolution of a perfectly good marriage."
Whether you have been married two, 10 or 20 years, if the passion has fizzled in your marriage -- or if you want to make sure it stays alive -- there are things you can do to fan the flames, which Love will be teaching about at the Celebrate Marriage seminar on March 9.
"Passion and intimacy are foundational to a healthy marriage," says Love. "In a safe and fun way, I am going to help couples consider what makes them feel close to each other and how to talk about sexuality and sensuality without being overly sensitive or blaming. I will teach couples how to fully understand their spouse's needs and how to deal with differences in creating passion and intimacy in their relationship.
"By the end of the day, I believe couples will walk away with a new level of understanding and confidence in their marriage."
For more information about Celebrate Marriage, visit firstthings.org.
Email Julie Baumgardner at firstname.lastname@example.org