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Revving Up Your Romance

Passionate partners spark with eyes wide open

By The Denver Post, April 25, 2007
 

Evergreen psychologist and sex therapist David Schnarch, Ph.D., picks up where sexual behavior researchers Masters and Johnson left off. For a decade, his book "Passionate Couples: Love, Sex and Intimacy in Emotionally Committed Relationships" has served as a guide to building and improving the bonds of love. He and his wife, Ruth Morehouse, Ph.D., also conduct weekend couples workshops designed to put a little spark back into LTRs. Though their seminars can be R-rated because of their frankness, they have a few G-rated tips for people wondering about the natural progression of intimate relationships and how to stop the slide into boredom. - Jack Cox, Denver Post staff writer

What are the biggest obstacles to passion and intimacy and how do you address them? Early in a relationship, the newness, the chase, physical attractiveness, "winning someone over," and "being in love" generates passion and a sense of intimacy. As relationships continue, maintaining passion and intimacy requires bringing more of your true self into the relationship. The novelty dies unless you can increase your emotional connection and allow your partner to really know you. Couples start to struggle with the battles of self-development ("Do I belong to you, or do I belong to myself first?")

Over time your partner becomes more important as your lives become increasingly intertwined through finances, homes, kids and social life. Each partner becomes less willing to risk disapproval, and thus, less willing to expose their hidden erotic side.

What are the most common sexual problems faced by couples and what is the best way to deal with it? Lack of desire and sexual boredom are the most common. People's sense of their attractiveness, desirability, self-worth and lovability are often based on how they see themselves as part of their sexual relationship. So when sex dies, partners often withdraw emotionally from each other - or look elsewhere. The best way to deal with this is to recognize this and accept that sexual relationships develop by being willing to do new, creative, and spontaneous things.

One technique that can jump-start a couple's sex life is making sustained eye contact with your partner for five minutes. Lie down in bed - clothes on or off - with the goal of really looking into each other. You can blink or smile. Focus on the best in your partner. Many couples find this is more intimate than intercourse with the lights out, while for other couples it dredges up hidden negative issues.

Either way, this can be a first step in bringing passion and romance back into your relationship. You can even learn to have orgasms with your eyes open!

How does sex change as people get older? While sexual frequency often tapers off as people get older, it can be sweeter if the emotional connection is deeper. As people become more mature and aware of what's really important in life, they are capable of deeper intimacy, more meaningful desire, and more eroticism. Most people are much better in bed as they get older; cellulite and sexual potential are highly correlated.

What's the single best thing any couple can do to improve their relationship? Recognize that love relationships test you, stretch you and make you grow. Relate to the best in your partner from the best in yourself. Start relating to your partner's strength and resilience. Remind yourself what drew you to him or her in the first place. That's the key to a passionate marriage!

Schnarch and Morehouse's next Couples Enrichnment Weekend in Denver is May 4-6 at the Sheraton Four Points in Cherry Creek North. Details are at passionatemarriage.com or 303-670-2630.