Impeccable question. The underlying issue (inevitable wearing off of the “new love euphoria” that all couples eventually experience) is actually addressed in the question itself (setting realistic expectations and firing up the cooling engines).
About expectations. Let’s just put it out there right now to disarm it:
For everyone. It changes over time because life changes over time. In the beginning… when clothes were swirling during fits of passion, you and your partner probably weren’t also exhausting your energy on things like: cradling sick children, overhauling your house before company arrives, remembering to schedule your mammogram (or a host of similarly non-sexy things that collectively become our lives when we connect them like dots). Ironically, it’s these very types of routine “life” demands that cause people to do lots of things (i.e., jog, read romance novels, play Angry Birds, knit, see movies chalk-full of unrealistically sexy eyecandy, etc.). These activities allow everyday normal people to “escape” our lives for the few, critical moments that usually prove enough for us to refuel. Regarding expectations – it’s realistic to have outlets that serve to recharge us. It’s realistic to expect that our sex lives will change like everything else as we grow older. It isn’t realistic (or fair) to expect our partners to live up to sexual legends invented by novelists or scriptwriters. (That is, unless we are willing to accept Jolie or Johansen as yardsticks for our own measure of sexual appeal. Uhhh, no thank you.)
Firing up your cooling engines sexually – AWESOME idea! (Focus on it for the sake of strengthening your connection, though, and not because your husband will suffice as a stand-in for your imaginary boyfriend.)
Start by surprising him tonight with a sexy gesture after reading my Tokii suggestions below. Sparks will start flying again in no time!
“Shamelessly fantasizing” is a gift to yourself from those longing parts inside your boundless imagination that will forever search with dreams. If you can, truthfully, freely fantasize without the limits of guilt you are half-way there. You are floating far above your normal life when you dream and in this state pretty actors and scripted adventures are safely beyond your reach. Channing Tatum dances larger than life before you reading a script written by a gifted author, every smile or frown is guided by a highly paid director, a makeup artist creates shades beneath his eyes and paints his lips and cheeks with rouge. You will never see him as you see your husband. He has been airbrushed into a sterile space where you will never see his penis lying limp between his thighs as he snores so loud he disturbs your dreams of a life beyond your reach.
We all go there, to this space where we will never see Channing Tatum’s erect penis and are free to imagine its perfect size and ability to forever be pulsing with desire ‘for only me’. Personally, I have a dreadful fear of heights, but I’m fascinated by films of climbers hanging by a thin nylon rope off the side of a sheer rock cliff with death lurking on rocks far below. I become dizzy as I watch with a vivid imagination and my butt safely in a cozy seat.
Your “realistic expectations” demand sharing. Read Fifty Shades of Grey with your husband. He will have as many sexual fantasies to play as you: dreams that he may have toyed with only in his secret world. Together you can create the rules to act out fantasy. Your dreams that for many live in silent guilt-driven exile will have conquered the communication barrier.
Remember the rhyme, “Mark and Sarah sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes Sarah with the baby carriage.”
Well, unfortunately, the rhyme leaves out other stressors in life like the challenge of parenting, deaths, work, aging, and dealing with critical conflicts. These stressors cause spouses to overlook their partner’s needs and focus on day-to-day living. No one is to blame, but reprioritizing can help change the current dynamics.
Communicate your feelings regarding the boring sex life and unfulfilling needs with your partner. I know this is often recommended but seldom practiced effectively. The bigger fear is NOT communicating your needs and your thoughts going unaddressed. This could lead to deeper fantasies and possibly looking outside the marriage for that “unrealistic expectation”. Instead, inform your partner about your marital and sexual thoughts (it’s ok to leave out the Channing Tatum part). Utilize a reverse psychology approach and discuss HIS sexual likes and dislikes. This encourages the sex conversation and motivates him to think of “outside the box” ideas. Slowly integrate your sexual needs, find a happy medium, and then apply. This approach may require additional help such as assistance from a therapist or learning material that could guide the sexual spark. (Play Tokii’s Sizing Things Up)
Now let’s be honest about this question. The relationship will never experience the euphoric high encountered in the beginning of the relationship. That high is due to a bodily chemical released in the presence of your NEW partner and wears off around 2-4 years after meeting the individual. The way sparks are created is by maintaining a healthy relationship, getting out of the “comfort zone”, and take the “do whatever it takes” mentality to satisfy your partner’s needs (within your boundaries). (Tokii’s Fantasy game will help)
Try the above suggestions and if you find yourself still reading novels and fantasizing for gratification instead of getting gratification from your partner, please see a professional. Your sexual life can become satisfying, so don’t give up.
“A blushing schoolgirl?” Oh dear. How quaint. It has been a long time since you were in the mood to rip a man’s clothes off, and since you gave yourself permission to be sexy and naughty. But, on the positive side, the fact that you were turned on by Fifty Shades of Grey and Magic Mike means embers still burn in your bosom, so you can make sparks fly again in your bedroom… kitchen floor… garden… or anyplace else. First of all, throw out the idea of setting “more realistic expectations” – you seem to want to protect yourself from daring to believe that you can have a sex life like the lovers in these stories, which dampens the mood from the get go.
Next, you need to show your husband that you want to set him – and yourself – ablaze again. How? Throw out those old t-shirts or flannel pj’s you now sleep in and buy a new wardrobe of sexy lingerie. Why not read Fifty Shades of Grey together when you go to bed at night – one chapter at a time? That should fan the flames. For that matter, the Kama Sutra or soft porn videos or instructional sex videos also make great bedtime ‘foreplay’.
There are an unlimited array of ideas to make your sex life hotter, but what’s most important is that you have to be willing to let go of all the negative beliefs you tell yourself (too fat? too old? too late?), which are only excuses borne of fear that your husband doesn’t find you sexy anymore. He’s most likely worrying about the same thing. In my research of over 100 men who have been with bad girls, the main attraction is that these women make the men feel like the biggest studs on the planet. If you take the risk of trying to make your husband feel like this, he’ll likely live up to it and become the Christian Grey or Channing Tatum of your fantasies. By the way, fantasizing about these guys to help you get in the mood is not a crime. Nor are sex toys.