The Birds, the Bees, and Blended Families

Dear Dr. Weiss-Wisdom,
This is my second marriage and it’s the second marriage for my husband too. My first husband was very good looking and we had great chemistry. I was very attracted to him but within a couple of years it was clear that we were poorly matched. After the divorce, I decided to find someone who could be a great friend and life companion; this was more important than looks or sexual chemistry. So now I’m married to a man who shares my values and interests. We have a great time together. The problem is that he wasn’t very attractive to begin with and now with a few years under our belts, he’s even less so.

We go to holiday parties and I see couples that seem so in love and find myself longing for that feeling again. I don’t want to hurt my husband and best friend but I don’t feel fulfilled in the romance department. I know that some people have affairs to fill what they are missing in their marriage but I don’t want to be that kind of person. Do I just need to bury these feelings and make the best of what I have in my marriage? Is that even possible? Can couples be happily married when there is not any sexual chemistry?

- Don’t Want To Be a Two Time Loser
Dear Don’t Want to Be a Two Time Loser,
There are couples that live happily together without much of a sexual relationship; they seem to value their history and companionship more than anything else. But more often, people want to have the closeness that romance and sexuality can bring to a marriage.
Emotional intimacy is really what keeps the spark alive in long term marriages; if you and your husband have that kind of closeness then your marriage might be worth trying to save. While the initial limerence of romance can be intoxicating, ultimately it fades and it is the friendship between a couple that makes or breaks a relationship. It’s more than a long shot that you can rekindle a spark if none was there to begin with – but before you throw in the towel, try talking with your husband about your need to have more romance in your relationship. You could give each other some examples of behaviors and activities that you would each find appealing.
If there never was any sexual chemistry and your friendship is still good, you have a very difficult decision to make. The rare person in your situation might try to sublimate their sexual appetite into another area of their life that they find fulfilling. And you are right, when there is a lack of romantic and sexual connection in a marriage, it does make the couple vulnerable to the wandering eye. Everyone has to decide what is most important to them and base their decisions on that.
While the alchemy of sexuality has always inspired relationships, the mainstay of a long lasting marriage remains feeling safe, cared for, and having fun together. Without the friendship, most couples lose any sexual spark that they originally had. If there is any spark at all remaining between you and your husband, you could try cultivating that together. Couples counseling focused on you romantic and sexual life together could be transformative; it could result in rekindling things… or that you mutually decide to separate. Your desire to have more of the spark that you see between other couples is natural and could be a source of inspiration in your life. But remember that the holidays can create a lot of expectation and yearnings for a story book life. People often feel like they are missing out on something special happening just over yonder. So while you contemplate your situation, try to keep in mind that for all we know the greener grass across the street could be astro- turf!

Author's Bio: 

Diana Weiss-Wisdom, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist (psy#12476) in private practice in Rancho Santa Fe, California, 92067. (858) 259-0146