For organizational reasons, I’ll occasionally be posting previously written articles here. This way they’ll appear on the side panel under their appropriate category and will be easier to find.
One of my clients this week needed to discuss the common series of questions from anxiously engaged brides: Am I attracted enough to my fiancé? Do I love him enough? How do I know he’s the right match for me? etc etc. But one question has recurred for her repeatedly: Do we have enough chemistry?
Sometimes – quite often, actually – the wise and insightful women who frequented the message board (now closed) on my website provide much more thorough answers than I do. After the session was over, I remembered a thread on the boards several months ago on this very topic. For this week’s article, I’ll quote from the responses to this original post:
“I was checking out the articles on the Conscious Weddings homepage and as I was reading through “Marriage is a Work in Progress” I was completely stopped and hugely spiked by the term “enough spark” – here it is in the sentence:
Like all courageous endeavors, marriage can and must evolve over time. We enter into it with the greatest of intentions, hope, and commitment. We spend enough time together to determine if the partnership is a good match in terms of shared values, enough spark, some ability to resolve conflict, and no serious red flags.
I have pretty much always questioned whether or not my husband and I had “enough spark” to make things last. He’s a good, caring, generous, and hard-working man. But I worry because the thought of him or the presence of him (even after frequent absences) does not make my body tingle with excitement. I know that it’s not realistic to want to feel this way all the time, but I am missing the feeling completely. I sometimes feel as if I brace myself to tolerate him, to tolerate what our relationship is, which is good but boring. Even when we do “exciting” things together, I feel like the essence of our relationship is dull. I actually pondered aloud to him a few weeks back whether marriage was the right thing for me or not? Ugh, this is truly an awful feeling.
What does “enough spark” mean anyway? I guess my major concern comes in because I shared A LOT of spark with an old boyfriend (whom I can’t seem to stop thinking about, even after being apart for six years). I wonder if my inability to let go of that feeling and the mental ties to that old relationship is preventing me from being truly intimate and creating sparks with my husband?”
“Did you read the other article (maybe it’s in the archives on the site) about the “old boyfriends”? Sheryl addresses this too. There is always one super hot boyfriend from the past that we had a sexually charged relationship with that we idealize once married/engaged. But there was a reason that boyfriend was not life-partner material. We tend to forget this when our husband/fiancé doesn’t do it for us. Remind yourself that there was a reason you didn’t end up with this guy.
I have asked myself the same question (is there enough spark?) and worried about the same thing, but I think it’s normal for attraction to wax and wane. For attraction to occur, you need intimacy, and for intimacy to occur, you need to connect with your husband. For me this means long, rambling conversations about meaningful topics like politics, art, family, etc. Whenever I lose track of time while talking to my husband about something stimulating and interesting, I feel like getting it on (for lack of a better description). Our minds are really our most powerful sex organ, and when I connect in meaningful ways it helps foster sexual attraction. Maybe for you doing something together like taking a walk, or talking about a movie that you’ve seen, or cooking together, or whatever you find stimulating would help you feel more attracted to your spouse. I think at this point expecting an immediate physical response every time you see your husband isn’t realistic. That *zing* only happens when someone is still somewhat of a mystery. Your husband isn’t a mystery anymore.
I don’t know if this makes sense, but I wanted to offer my two cents because I think this is a pretty common phenomenon. For me I need to talk a lot with my husband to feel connected, but for some women just cuddling or sitting together works too. Find what works for you.”
“Also, don’t confuse spark with drama. I had what I thought was “spark” with my high school sweetheart, but what really was just me ALWAYS fighting for his attention. The more he pulled away, the closer I wanted to be to him and the more I chased him. The more attention he gave to other people, the more excited I became when it was my turn to get the attention. I do still think back on our relationship, because I was the one to break up with him knowing the relationship was bad but I don’t think I ever expressed it well or he ever realized just how much I felt hurt by him. I think that kind of “spark” is incredibly unfulfilling because it is that desire for closeness that just isn’t being met, making you continue to go after it.
My fiancé was SO available to me in the beginning that the lack of drama and chase made me feel something was wrong. But it was really just what a healthy relationship was. I don’t constantly have those fluttery feelings for him anymore, but c’mon: I’ve seen the man vomit, poop on the toilet, etc. We’ve been together for almost 4 years. We have a lot of responsibilities and we know each other’s good and bad qualities. He has been working a lot lately and I do miss having him home, miss his company (I also miss the help around the house). But I also like having my space. Even when he IS home, sometimes he just wants to play video games and I just want to watch TV, so there isn’t that CRAVING to be near. I do still feel fluttery moments (not as frequently) but it’s because I’m not obsessing over it or forcing it. He does something sweet or says something and I just feel good, proud to be with him, thankful for who he is and the effort he makes. Just this morning FI said something a little snappy to me about something I did and then a few minutes later when I was trying to explain myself he came out and apologized saying he knew he shouldn’t have done that! This comes just after a conversation about me needing him to share responsibility in our disagreements so I was like, WOW he listened!
What is enough spark? How about, how do you define spark? If you are thinking of that excited feeling of the first touch, wondering if he is going to call, can’t wait until our next date feeling, I would say most married couples do not feel this way about each other after years of dating and then being under the same roof for a period of time. For me, spark is that feeling I get when our eyes meet during a group conversation and we both share a private joke or shared thought. It’s when we have one of those “complete your sentence” moments (they don’t always happen, but sometimes they do). It’s when he backs me up when I’m telling him about an argument with my mom. It happened when I realized he was crying during Marley and Me (and he is NOT a crier) and he got all embarrassed. It’s a different kind of connection from the lusty feelings of the first few months.”
I addressed the original post with the following:
“Here’s what I meant by “spark” (and I can understand why the word spiked you): I mean that you’re connected to each other, you like each other, there’s a desire to spend time with your partner in a variety of ways. I actually didn’t mean it in a sexual way! When I think of spark between partners I mean that there’s something that draws two people together – and that something can be a lot of different things.”
Sheryl Paul, M.A., is regarded as an international expert in transitions. In 1998 she pioneered the field of bridal counseling and has since counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, “The Conscious Bride” and “The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner,” and her websites, www.consciousweddings.com and www.consciousmotherhood.com. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top television, radio, and newspapers around the globe. Phone and Skype sessions available internationally for all types of transitions.