November 2014



Keeping the Passion Alive

By Marianne Oehser

Years ago people may have accepted boredom in their relationship but not anymore. Today our expectation is that our love relationships will be satisfying, vital, and fulfilling. In fact, according to a survey conducted among 100 family lawyers, boredom and monotony are now the number one reasons for divorcing.

What is passion? Most of us think "lust" when we hear that word. In the early months and years of a relationship the endorphins surging through our brains definitely create lust. What happens to passion when those sexual opiates fade as they certainly will? That is the time when a couple can choose whether or not they will continue to have passion in their relationship. Yes, passion is a choice.

I know what you are thinking "but I can't will myself to feel something I don't feel." That is true. But you can choose the things you focus your attention on. One author puts it this way: "passion is the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do." When you consciously and consistently bring more of you into your relationship, passion follows.

Bringing more of you into your relationship shows up in the little things you do. It shows up when you focus in a positive way on what your partner is saying and how he is feeling about what he is saying. Doing that tells him he is important to you. Many studies have shown that feeling important to your partner is one of the keys to a fulfilling relationship.

You also bring "you" into the relationship when you choose to focus on the everyday things going on in your partner's life. Remember how you wanted to know every detail of your lover's life when you first met. Boredom often creeps in when you stop focusing on the little things about each other.

The everyday things you do for each other make a big difference in how connected you feel and there are lots of little ways to connect. It can be as simple as taking 10 minutes to share how your day went or even just touching each other. We know from research that when a couple touches each other their bodies release a powerful hormone called oxytocin often called the "love hormone". It makes us feel content, reduces anxiety and stress, helps us feel calm and secure around our loved one. That's true for both men and women.

One of the most effective expressions that you care is telling your partner that you appreciate something he did that day. In our hectic lives it is so easy to over look the things we do for each other. According to Psychology Today, studies show that gratitude can not only be deliberately cultivated but can increase levels of well-being and happiness among those who do cultivate it. Grateful thinking especially expressing it to others is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.

You also choose how you look at things. When you focus on the things that are missing in your relationship you feel a sense of lack and disconnection. Looking at it through a lens of appreciation you are focusing on what is working and what you are enjoying about it. Choosing not to do things helps too. Criticism and nasty zingers destroy affection and create distance between partners. World-renowned relationship researcher, John Gottman, says that it takes five positive actions to make up for one negative one.

In an excellent documentary called Happy, Academy Award nominated producer and director Roko Belic examined the factors that impact our happiness. He found that our genes make up 50% of what determines our happiness. Only 10% is determined by our circumstances, such as our financial situation and our status in society pretty much the opposite of what our culture suggests. The real insight is that 40% of our happiness is based on the things we choose to do on a regular basis like appreciating what we have, focusing our time and energy on family and friends, physical activity, and focusing attention on personal growth and helping others.

Choosing to bring more of you into your relationship will fuel passion and keep the boredom demon away.

Copyright © 2014 by Marianne Oehser and The Relationship Coaching Institute. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Marianne Oehser is a Certified Relationship Coach and educator. She owns Between Two Hearts, LLC which specializes in helping clients work through mid-life transitions, such as retirement, empty-nests, single again, and remarrying in mid-life. She received her training through Relationship Coaching Institute, the largest international relationship coaching training organization.

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Ask Our Coaches

My husband is bringing me down with his negativity. What should I do?

Dear Coaches,

My husband and I have been married for 41 years. We are best friends and I love him very much. Over the years he has become very negative. He comments about everyone and everything. His negativity is starting to wear on me. I am starting to distance myself from him, just because he is bringing me down. What should I do?


Nina Potter

Nina responds ...

Start with a gentle conversation mentioning that you have noticed he is unhappy about a lot of external things and ask him if he is unhappy with his life. People who are negative about a lot of things are generally unhappy with themselves and are reflecting that unhappiness outward. In this conversation do NOT make him wrong for it. No one reacts well to being made wrong. These are his perceptions of how the world looks to him.

For yourself, what are you doing to care for and please yourself to model good self care for him? Are you honest in your emotional sharing with him? Do you speak your personal truth openly with him? Does he with you? Do you get curious when he criticizes and complains and ask him if he has a request?

Rather than refute his negative assertions, you might try asking what he would prefer instead? Ask for more clarity about what and why he feels the way he does about it. Is he feeling helpless? Is his negativity related to him aging in a changing world? Use it to deepen your emotional connection instead of avoiding him, which may make it increasingly worse.

Nina Potter |

Anita Myers

Anita responds ...

We all evolve into new places in our lives, adjusting to changes. Not everyone adjusts as well as we would hope. Consider the following methods of approach:

Take your husband to a place that brings him feelings of content, joy, and laughter. Often physical or medical circumstances, familial responsibilities, work place expectations and demands, or just the daily monotony of the "grind" can reach an annoying redundancy that causes the grump in us to come out and growl. We may project our frustrations on others unconsciously and a change in scenery can elevate the soul, especially with his best friend by his side.

Being best friends holds an advantage in your relationship where you can be authentic and respectful, so use your benefit to your advantage. Respectfully share your concern of his change of behavior and bring him back to the positive memories that he can recognize and appreciate with you.

You have both worked through tons of ups and downs of all kinds together, for better and for worse, and my wish is for your love and friendship of 41 years proves that talking and loving through the changes will help you both reach your 42nd anniversary, and beyond.

Anita Myers |

Randy Hurlburt

Randy responds ...

Without a lot more detail it is impossible to say why he has become so negative. It could be a coping mechanism to cover his own feelings of inferiority. I doubt that this is something you can correct on your own, since it's been developing over a long time. Also, it's possible he has negative feelings towards you, or the relationship, and this is being transferred to other aspects of his life.

My best recommendation is that you see a coach or counselor to do some problem solving together. There also has to be something in this for him - he likely will be "negative" otherwise - so you'll have to be creative in coming up with something important to him that will cause him to want to work with you and a coach/counselor.

Maybe you could decide to go on a second honeymoon a year from now, some place he's always wanted to go, and use the coaching sessions to "polish" your relationship prior to the trip so the trip will be one you will both enjoy and cherish forever.

Randy Hurlburt |

Barbara Ann Williams

Barbara responds ...

Congratulations to 41 years of marriage. Have you had this conversation about your thoughts and feelings with your husband, and if so, what was his response?

If you have, and you're now expressing it in your question, I would say to you that something has changed. It sounds like there has been a shift in your relationship, and most certainly in him, since he hasn't always been this way. Can you recall when the shift took place, and what was done about it initially? Has this behavior been minimized and tolerated over the years, and now that you have gotten older, it's becoming more disturbing?

Consider that the changes within the two of you, might be causing a shift between the two of you. Do an internal check with yourself to see if you can locate anything that might be causing you to distance yourself, and consider what that's all about. Afterwards, maybe you can come from a different space and then approach your husband from a place of the love you have for him as your best friend, to see if he is willing to open up about your concerns.

Barbara Ann Williams |

The opinions stated are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the staff, members, or leadership of Relationship Coaching Institute.

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your question here and it will be forwarded to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.


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