Attraction: How It Changes Over Time in A Marriage (Part 3)

Over our last two blog posts, we’ve been looking at how attraction changes over time. We’ve talked about some of the causes, as well as some of the specific differences between how men and women experience this change.

To conclude the three part series, we’ll get to the most important part of this whole topic: what you can do about it.

Part 3: What You Can Do About It

Attraction will change over time. There’s really nothing to be done about the gradual changes that we will all experience in life. Our experiences and views can develop as we grow older. We learn new things, we realign our priorities, things happen in our lives that change what we’re interested in, we can even experience biological changes that alter the smells, sounds, tastes, and sensations we find appealing!

There is nothing more constant than change. Our bodies change as we age (and can also change for better or worse, depending on our habits), our careers may shift and cause new financial stress or financial freedom, and we may even pick up new interests over the course of married life that teach us lessons or otherwise alter the way we look at the world around us. We are never done growing and changing.

So, how can we keep up with these changes? How can we keep attraction alive in our marriages with so many things changing around us?

Physical Attraction

Of all of the “things you can do” to keep the mutual attraction alive in your marriage, physical attraction is actually the easiest to maintain!

First, it’s helpful to remember that you and your spouse ARE (or at least were) attracted to each other’s looks. You’ve got a baseline going for you already! If something about you or your spouse’s appearance has changed – and it’s causing attraction to diminish – you can figure out what changed and address it specifically!

It won’t necessarily be easy to confront the problem – it’s pretty embarrassing to discuss what makes someone unattractive, or even to talk about things that have changed for the worse – but it’s the first step to getting things back to how they once were (or at least close).

There ARE things you can do about waining attraction in your marriage.
There ARE things you can do about waining attraction in your marriage.

Perhaps the most common change is weight gain. For some, it’s not even an issue, for others – a major one. So, what can you do about it?

The answer is pretty simple, though a little more difficult in practice: get in shape for your spouse! You don’t have to be embarrassed about it, or feel bad that you’ve neglected it – you just have to be willing to improve! You can even work at it together, no matter what shape you’re in. As an added bonus, exercising boosts sex drive too!

If it’s something else related to physical appearance, like maybe the clothes one spouse chooses, something like bad breath or stinky feet, or a bit of hygiene or personal maintenance that goes ignored – you just have to bite the bullet and talk about it!

If you and your spouse can remain attracted to each other, not only does it improve your sex life, but many other aspects of your life as well. You’ll look forward to seeing each other every day, you’ll smile when they enter a room, you’ll feel proud to call that beautiful woman or handsome man your spouse when meeting new people or visiting new places. You’ll feel more in love!

Sexual Attraction

While physical attraction and sexual attraction are inherently linked (physical appearance plays in important role in sexual desire), there are components of our sex lives and sexual health that can be maintained outside of any sense of physical attractiveness.

Even if you and your spouse are absolutely attracted to one another, a sexual relationship can experience ups and downs over time. Keeping that spark alive will take effort from both members of a marriage.

This happens partly because of a very basic human impulse – the more of the same stimulus, the less we are affected over time. This means that the “same old same” will eventually cease to be as exciting as it once was. This doesn’t mean that you need to be exploring all sorts of wild bedroom activities (unless you want to, of course) – it just means that you need to keep things fresh!

Just by keeping the health of your sex life in mind, you can do wonders for your relationship! Be flirty, touch each other, break out of your routines – all of these things keep both of you feeling sexy and sexually attracted to one another.

Don’t worry if your sexual chemistry waxes and wanes from time to time, it’s only natural. Just be sure you’re not assuming that once it wanes a little, it can’t come back. That kind of complacency is precisely what prevents people from rekindling their spark!

Most importantly: talk about what’s going on with you! If you’re experiencing problems, feeling unattractive, want to try something new, have reservations about what your spouse wants, feeling unsatisfied – anything that’s getting in the way of a fulfilling sex life with your spouse – you have to discuss it, or it will never get any better.

Learning to be open and honest about your desires and hang-ups will help keep you and your spouse connected for the long haul.

Attitude

In part 1 of this series, we talked about how your mental image of your spouse plays into attraction. When we fixate on something that bothers us, it can cloud the entire picture we hold of our spouses, and make us resentful of certain characteristics or behaviors.

Overcoming this problem isn’t always simple, but making sure you’re keeping an open mind and concentrating on the positives will certainly help!

We’re all human, and the longer we spend time with our spouses, the more likely we are to pick up on little nuances and quirks that drive us up a wall. Remember, though, you’re probably doing the same to your spouse. No one is perfect, and focusing on the little negatives will do little but carve a rift in your marriage.

It’s ok to talk about these things, but not to the point of nagging a spouse for a relatively minor personality quirk. Remind yourself why you love this person, and why you fell for them in the first place. Compared to all of the great qualities that made you want to marry this person, what’s so important about a little bad habit or annoyance?

This isn’t to say that you can’t be a little irritated, or that working together to minimize the ways you grate on each other’s nerves isn’t an important part of growing your bond together. Just remember that how you perceive your spouse depends largely on the qualities you choose to focus on.

The Best You

Now, for all of the ways that you and your spouse can work together to keep attraction thriving, perhaps the best way of all depends solely on YOU.

To keep your spouse attracted to you, be the best you that you can possibly be!

This means taking care of your physical and mental health, practicing kindness and honesty, doing your best to stay positive, setting your priorities for the best interests of yourself and your loved ones, and all around being the best version of yourself that you can imagine!

It may sound a little vague, but this “best self” will be a little bit different for everyone. No matter what it means to you, when you’re motivated to live up to your full potential and actively pursuing happiness and personal growth, you’ll glow!

If you and your spouse are both following this path, and encouraging each other along the way, you’ll both blossom into warm, happy individuals – who are totally irresistible to each other! Two thriving individuals make for one thriving marriage!

Staying attractive over time is a complicated issue, but with these tactics in mind, and the will to keep your marriage alive and well, you can stay deeply in love through all of the changes life throws your way.

How have you and your spouse stayed connected over the years? Let us know in the comments!

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com

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10 comments

Heather 8 years ago

ive been married for 22 years and for the first 15 my husband was real into how i looked and physically attracted to me. he has since only called me ugly and fat i have been working out and trying to look better for him but he still says mean stuff. what can i do?

danny 8 years ago

My wife and I rarely get intimate anymore. It just stopped happening a couple of years ago (I'm 52 and she's 54). I'm afraid that we're teetering on the edge of divorce. She's not attracted to me anymore. Help?

Mattie 8 years ago

We will be married for 29 years in September. I have had medical issues causing me to be in and out of the hospital for the last 5 years. Along with my illnesses I have also lost my father and have been trying to also be there for my mother. Recently my mentally handicapped sister became very ill and I have been trying to be there for her also. We have had a wonderful marriage and my husband always said how much he loves me and wants to stay together but the last 3 years we have not been intimate though I have tried many times. I found out that my weight is the biggest issue and I just can't get past this. He says it's more than that like his unhappiness with work, our financial problems but throughout our lives together we were able to get through the ruff times because of our love. I have been trying to lose weight, I'm going to a yoga class, walking everyday weather permitting and using a exercise machine when I am not in so much pain. With his physical appearance with his weight gain has never stopped me from loving and wanting him, and because of this I just can't stop hurting. Please help! I thought we would be married for ever!

Sexless Too Long 8 years ago

If we decide to end our marriage, I'll need to get back into dating shape. Maybe, I'll try getting into dating shape first, and see if my wife notices.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi, Heather - First, good for you for getting in shape! Not just for him, but for yourself! Second, it can be hard to break from that pattern of behavior. Here are some ideas to help. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/marriage-counseling-what-longer-attracted-spouse/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

HI, Danny - I'm glad your looking for solutions rather than excuses. Try to kick things up a bit - https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/keeping-passion-alive-through-the-stages-of-marriage/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Mattie - Though the physical intimacy is at a lull right now, it sounds like you both love each other very much. I think you both need a date night to try to reconnect - https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/reconnect-feel-close/

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi, Sexless - I think getting in shape is a great idea for your spouse and for YOU! If you feel better about yourself, she'll probably notice that first.

RMJ 8 years ago

IVE BEEN MARRIED THREE ALMOST FOUR YEARS AND HAVE BEEN THROUGH A COUPLE OF THINGS THAT HAS DRIVEN HER TO LEAVE I DONT HAVE ANY KIDS WIT HER OR ANYONE FOR THAT NATURE I WAS WONDERING DUE TO THE FACT SHE HAS BEEN GONE FOR QUIT SOME TIME WHAT CAN I DO TO SHOW HER IVE CHHANGED N MISS HER N TRULY WONT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES AGAIN OVER AND OVER IVE GROWN UP N WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE RIGHT WITH GOD N HER

Mike_Olsen_SMN 8 years ago

Hi, RMJ - It can be hard to bring back a spouse that is gone but we do believe it's possible. https://www.strongmarriagenow.com/save-marriage-possible/