Even after all of these years of being a marriage life coach, if there's a consistent thread that I've experienced with my clients, one that always tends to fascinate me, it's how so often there can be two people who started out being totally into each other; then, life gets in the way and the very same things that caused a husband and wife to not be able to keep their hands off of one another are now some of the very things that cause them to go a couple of months without having sex, without even blinking an eye. What's the deal? Like, really?
From a research standpoint, it's interesting what causes people to be attracted to one another in the first place—looks (of course), a good sense of humor, a person's level of ambition and even relatable past experiences. However, when I read an article on Insider's site entitled, "Why you're attracted to certain people, and not others", a takeaway that tickled me was, "When it comes to love, most people have an idea of what they're looking for in a partner".
Singles, this is actually a part of the reason why I wrote the article for this platform, "The Pros & Cons Of Creating A 'What I Want In A Man' Checklist". It's because the reality is, a lot of people get into relationships simply because a person is pleasing to the eye or makes them feel some type of way, yet they don't really make the time to ponder if they are truly attracted to them in a broader sense. You know, if the person shares their same values, if they complement their lifestyle, if they are on the same page when it comes to spiritual and sexual compatibility…things like that. And when you don't take those types of things into long and serious account before jumping the broom, it can be real easy to "fall out of attraction" once bills, arguments, unattractive habits and even time changing the two of you transpires.
So, what do you do when you're married and, while you still love your husband, you are in a space where you don't really feel all that attracted to him? That's a good question. Personally, I'm a fan of more questions being asked in order to get to the right answer(s). Are you ready to do a little soul-seeking?
Do You Feel Emotionally Disconnected Somehow?
While it might seem odd that most of us are attracted to someone, out the gate, by how they look, I actually want to start this off by inquiring about how you feel about your man emotionally right now. It's no secret that if a lot of women do not feel emotionally in sync with their partner, his looks really aren't going to matter much. Not only that, but a classic dictionary definition of attract is "to draw by appealing to the emotions or senses, by stimulating interest, or by exciting admiration; allure; invite".
When I wrote the article, "This Is How To Feel Emotionally Safe In Your Relationship" and also "10 Things Marriages Need On A Daily Basis", it was partly to confirm the fact that our feelings matter. One example is the last man who broke my heart. We've managed to remain friends (long story and another article for another time) yet it's interesting. He looks just like he did when we were "in our situation" and so, from a physical standpoint, I still think he's cute, I'm not drawn to him in the least. It's because my feelings towards him have changed. I don't trust him in the same way. I don't share with him all of what I used to. I don't respect certain things about how he handled our dynamic. So yeah, we're healing yet there is definitely an emotional disconnect.
So, I would start there. If you're not really into your husband right now, take a moment to think about how he makes you feel. If you can't use words like "good", "safe" and "confident in the relationship", then there is an emotional disconnection somewhere. Either talking it out or seeing a therapist/counselor/life coach can typically help you to figure out how to get your connection back again.
Have You Lost Respect for Him on Some Level?
If you've been reading my copy for a while now, you know that I'm good for bringing the Bible into an article, as I think it applies. Well, for this particular point, Scripture certainly applies. The Classic Amplified Version of Ephesians 5:33 says, "However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]." Some of y'all might not like this very much but hey, I didn't make it up. It's what the Word says. And here's the thing. Just like love languages are all about expressing love in the way that your partner needs to feel it (not the way you do), according to Scripture, women feel loved with love while men feel loved when they are respected. On that last point, you know what else? We are able to love a man more when we respect him too (well look at that!).
I've got a friend right now who's been struggling in her marriage because her husband is the consummate mama's boy. Back when they were dating, she thought it was endearing because it appeared nurturing and gentlemanly. Now that she's realized that she's basically in second place—with his mama always coming in first—she's pretty disgusted (and that's putting it mildly).
If there are three things that most wives expect from their husband, it's him having the ability to protect, provide (not just or only financially but holistically so) and cherish her. When any of those things are lacking, it's hard to do what the Word says—regard, prefer, or esteem her husband.
My friend's husband isn't protecting, providing, or cherishing his wife like he should because either his mama's needs come first or he doesn't serve as a barrier between his mom and his wife when his mom tries to take jabs. And how can you wanna be close to a man who you don't feel is acting like one?
Protect. Provide. Cherish. If you're struggling with being attracted to your man right now, ask yourself if you feel like he's failing—or flailing—in any of these areas. If he is, that at least can give you a starting point of what you need to share with him—and why.
Is Your Lack of Attraction Physical—or Sexual?
I'm gonna share a double standard that drives me totally up the wall. How is it that when a woman gains weight in a marriage and her husband struggles with remaining physically or sexually attracted to her, he's the ultimate jerk? Oh, but when a man grows a gut and his wife turns up her nose, suddenly the mockery is justified. One of the biggest lessons that marriage teaches you is how to apply the Golden Rule—do unto others as you would have them do until you—on the daily.
That said, let's not act like attraction doesn't also mean "to draw by a physical force causing or tending to cause to approach, adhere, or unite; pull (opposed to repel)". Yeah, something that's unfortunate when it comes to many marriages is, that once two people say "I do", one or both can get a little lazy (idle, sluggish) on the physical appearance front. I honestly can't tell you how many people have said to me, "I've got him now, why do I need to go through all of that effort for?" Umm, because your husband didn't suddenly go blind on his wedding day and also, what about you wanting to look bomb for yourself? Geeze.
And let me bring something up about the lack of sexual attraction too. Someone else in my world has been having issues in her marriage for years because the way she views sex—how she wants to have it when she wants to have it and even why she wants to have it—has evolved over the years. Meanwhile, her husband has remained pretty "sexually stagnant" in a lot of ways because, in his mind, so long as he's got BDE (check out "BDE: Please Let The 'It Needs To Be Huge' Myth Go") and a high sex drive, it should be all good, right? Wrong, sir.
Back when I wrote the article, "8 'Kinds of Sex' All Married Couples Should Put Into Rotation", a part of my motivation was to shout out the fact that marriage comes with a different level of responsibility than "single sex" does. That's because sex isn't to be treated like a "perk" in marriage; it is actually a key and core ingredient in making a committed relationship last (check out "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important").
This is why it's important to make sure that you go beyond just the "mechanics" of sex when it comes to your partner. Are you both on the same page sexually? Do you have similar needs and expectations? As you both grow and evolve, do you view sex in a different way? Have your changes in hormones or even body image caused you to want different things?
A lot of marriages are struggling out here because sexual attraction has died down and unfortunately, rather than dealing with the issue, they settle for not having sex at all. I say it often and I mean every word—if you are physically able to have sex with your spouse and you're not doing it, your marriage is showing signs of being unhealthy. If you fall into this category, please check out "9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight.", then consider having that chat with your partner tonight. You deserve all that comes with marriage—including being physically and sexually attracted to your hubby. Still.
Did You Go into Marriage with an Unrealistic Attraction Expectation?
Marriage is a mirror. I'm a firm believer of that as well. "Mirror" in the sense that it will show you some things about yourself in a way that no other relationship on this planet ever can or ever will. Well, if after pondering all of the things that I've already said, if you don't feel like any of those points apply but you're still like, "Yeah…I'm still not attracted right now, though", ask yourself what your expectations were going in.
Something else that I also oftentimes hear a lot in my sessions is people saying, "I had no idea that marriage was going to be this challenging" or "Somehow, I thought that marriage was going to be a lot easier than this". Make no mistake, choosing the right person makes the relationship a billion times less stressful yet what relationship is always a walk in the park? Shoot, even our relationship with ourselves can wear us out from time to time.
Reflecting on what you expected marriage to be vs. what it is currently like for you can also help you to get to the root of why you're not attracted to your husband at the present.
I mean, if you expected him to be some character out of your favorite movie, you're gonna be disappointed. Or, if you thought that marriage was gonna be just about you and what you want all of the time, you're gonna be pissed. Or, if you're realizing that you are far more selfish because you never considered that marriage was about daily—and I do mean, daily—compromise, you're gonna feel shortchanged. Expectations aren't bad yet it's important to have ones that are realistic. Were yours?
It’s Important to Remember That You Can Oftentimes Get Back to Where You Once Were
I know we just covered a lot of ground yet here's the really good news about all of it—if you were once attracted to your husband, there is a really good chance that you can get back to being attracted again. Because, as you just saw, attraction isn't just some random fleeting notion; once you figure out what attracts you to someone and what has caused you to not be attracted, you can get to the root of the matter and restore what was lost.
I honestly can't tell you, just how many times I have been able to help a couple get, as India.Arie once put it, "Back to the Middle", once they were completely open and honest with each other about what they need in the present and their partner was open to helping to meet them where they are.
Attraction isn't just important in a marriage; it is very necessary. Just remember that attraction is what got you to the "for better or for worse" place in your relationship. It's not impossible to feel that way again. If both of you want it, you can have it. You really can.
Featured image by Shutterstock