Dear Spark,

Many couples feel that after years together their relationship is not as passionate. You are not alone. Some couples may not feel as appreciated by their partner or may even feel neglected. More often than not, resentment starts to build and couples begin to criticize even the smallest oversights of their partner, which threatens their friendship.

What leads people to this loss of friendship and romantic discord is a lack of intimacy. It’s imperative that you and your boyfriend openly, honestly, and non-judgmentally communicate your emotional and sexual needs with each other. Try to seduce each other.

Seducing a partner is work, and just like your work schedule, you must schedule at least 30 minutes each day to talk to each other about the activities of your day. Instead of coming home and immediately sifting through the mail or checking your email, give your partner a hug and then sit down with him and share the happy incidents and disappointments of your day. Encourage him to share with you the events of his day and listen attentively when he does. This type of greeting would set the stage for the rest of the evening.

Bedtime stories are not just for kids. Before going to sleep each evening, why not share with your special guy one thing about him that you appreciate. He can have a turn after you finish. This would help you both to focus on the reasons you are with each other. Or, you could tell each other the story of how you met and fell in love. This emotional foreplay could set the stage for later emotional, psychological, and sexual intimacies.

I recommend sensate focusing (massage with feedback) to my clients. After a nice, warm, candle-lit bath, take turns giving each other a relaxing massage. The person being massaged should verbalize his or her level of enjoyment through numbers (i.e., 0 to 10) or through words (i.e., “That really feels wonderful.”). If words fail you (as they typically do when you feel sexually relaxed), it’s okay to express your appreciation through sounds (“mmmm”). In this way, the person giving the massage feels validated in pleasuring his or her partner. This exercise is beneficial on many levels, especially since it helps increase the sexual intimacy.

One of the best ways to reconnect with a person is to share your core feelings with them. I recommend that you and your guy take turns telling each other what, or who, in your past has given you the most happiness, fear, anger, guilt, sadness, emptiness, passion, and so on. For example, you could begin by asking him: “What is the one thing in your life that makes you, or has made you, happy?” After he responds, ask him: “When was the last time you experienced this feeling?” The same two questions could then be applied to the other feelings on the list. To “spice things up,” you must learn about, empathize with, and then accept the emotional experiences each of you has had.

Keep in mind that sharing your experiences and then discussing your feelings about them will help you and your partner rebuild intimacy with each other. Once regained, intimacy will help maintain the passion and commitment in your relationship.

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