Dear Avi and Adele:
My wife and I have been married for more than 10 years. We both know we were meant for each other and I adore my wife. The problem is that we seem to be going through the motions and we’ve lost a lot of the excitement we had in our earlier years – I often spend the weekends on the couch watching sports and she’s often out with girlfriends shopping and doing girls’ night out stuff. Rabbis Avi & Adele, what does Judaism have to say about lighting a fire in your marriage to make things last?
— Lost the excitement
Dear Lost the excitement:
We’ve heard the advice “Have sex every Shabbat” given to many a marrying couple and we can’t argue with the logic. And we happen to think that this mantra speaks to more than just bedroom fun; rather, finding a way to regularly connect on an intimate way is the critical path back to feeling married.
In the early days, you likely doted on each other much more. She was happy to keep you company while you folded laundry, while you would merrily accompany her to the grocery store just to watch her bend down to the lower shelves. Somewhere along the way, laundry returned to being just folding the towels and the grocery store stroll lost its luster that one day when you couldn’t decide between artichokes and asparagus for that dinner party you were having for her coworkers.
We happen to be a big fan of the work of Dr. Harley’s work with “Marriage Builders.” (Check out the complete ideas at http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi3550_summary.html). In a nutshell, he proposes (no pun intended) that a successful marriage must pursue four goals. First, both spouses must make regular deposits in the love bank. Second, each mate must use his/her natural instincts and learned habits to make deposits in the love bank (and correct habits that make withdrawals). Third, you must work towards meeting each others’ most important emotional needs. And finally, you must give your spouse 15 hours of undivided attention each week.
That final point is critical in your situation. You probably did it naturally early in your relationship. You don’t have to do the same things now, but you do need to invest the time. It’s having dinner together. It’s unloading the groceries from the car. It’s folding laundry or changing the sheets or sweeping the kitchen–together. Maybe for you it’s a marathon of “Glee” or training for a 5k or buying that crazy Groupon for co-ed strip tease classes or donating your time at the local seniors’ housing bingo tournament. And yes, it’s sex. As often as you both can stand it.
There’s no magical formula for getting that zing back, but the only way to start on that journey is to spend time together. We recommend not making it a big fuss, not a “We’re charting a new direction–land ho!” Rather, text her from work. Mail her a card. Wash the dishes together. Talk to her while she takes a shower.
–Avi and Adele
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