There’s much talk about the ‘honeymoon phase’ of a relationship. But is it always the case that at the very beginning of a relationship everything is rosy and suddenly it all damps down? Not really. Well, maybe that’s how it goes in some long-term relationships, but for others there might be many a honeymoon period throughout the course of their time together.
So just to be clear, when married couples - or those who have been in romantic relationships for a period of time - talk about the honeymoon stage of a relationship, they usually mean the bit where they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. The bit where they still got a little bit nervous or even giddy around one another. Where they couldn’t focus on anything they were doing because they were only thinking about their partner.
If you’ve managed to keep that honeymoon phase alive for a long time, then that’s brilliant. But if you haven’t, that does not mean you have a problem. It is perfectly normal for healthy relationships to move to a place that’s less permanently passion-fuelled and more… well…real life.
Maybe one or both of you have been working too hard, perhaps it’s the stress of a difficult family situation or illness. Maybe the kids are keeping you busy or there could be a billion and one other reasons you’ve stopped prioritizing one another. Life events happen.
Throughout your long lasting relationship, you’ll likely find that from time to time you experience more or less desire. The challenge is you may not be in sync with your partner when it happens. There are times you might feel that your amazing relationship has become a little battered by real life. There are times you may find your libido shifts into a lower gear. The good news is this is usually temporary. The bad news is the longer you let it go on, the harder it can be to get your sex life back on track.
Firstly, avoid pressure. Pressure is the nemesis of a fragile sexual relationship. Don’t overthink things. If you’ve just realized that the honeymoon period has ended – perhaps you didn’t even spot it disappearing – it’s likely not anyone’s fault. Be brave, take some risks and invite your partner to join you in more activities, both within and outside of the bedroom. Very often it’s just a case of someone resolving to nudge things in the right direction.
That of course requires a strong ego, you might feel a very real fear of being rejected. Be careful not to talk yourself out of it though, if you want to get back to a more connected relationship, stay open to intimacy in whatever form it might take. And look for opportunities for closeness with your partner in everyday life. If the idea of intercourse seems too big at the moment, take it back down a notch. Focus on the smaller stuff - cuddling, holding hands, an affectionate brush of the arm or leg during a conversation, a shared joke or holding your partner’s gaze for a little too long. There are many ways to enhance your connection without the need for grand gestures.
If your partner is not responding well to even your more subtle attempts to rekindle emotional intimacy, you may begin to feel they are emotionally unavailable. It may be more difficult but there are ways you can help them begin to open back up. Perhaps try going back to basics, taking intercourse out of the equation, opening a relaxing bottle of wine and asking each other some of these sex questions instead. Focus on gently finding that lost connection and re-learning what it was you fell in love with.
The rest can wait for now.
Often, we speak to couples who feel they’ve lost the intimacy, fallen out of the honeymoon phase and are desperately trying to get back to a mythical time when everything was wonderful. That time when sex was regular and never a cross word was spoken. Ask yourself honestly, was that the case? Or is there a certain amount of rose-tinting to your glasses?
Maybe it’s possible to get back to that place, maybe it’s not. Perhaps in reality, healthy long-lasting life-sharing relationships can be even better than those heady days… hear us out.
With a long-term relationship, we get the opportunity to really get to know our partner, to build intimacy on a far deeper level. When the honeymoon period ends, that’s when the building of a life together begins. There are still plenty of exciting things to learn about one another – physically, intellectually and emotionally. Cast the net wide and look for more things to create that sense of curiosity and motivation. To get to know this person like you did at the start. Make plans, dream big and the positives will far outweigh any part of the ‘honeymoon phase’ that you feel you may have lost.
If you’re struggling to find a way to get the spark back and feel a little support might benefit you, sex therapy or couples therapy could be the answer. Discover the Blueheart app as a stress-free way to reconnect with your partner, working in the privacy of your own home. Using sensate focus therapy techniques, you’ll work through touch exercises towards more physical intimacy as and when you’re both ready.
Get the spark back in your relationship with Blueheart. Take the assessment today.