How to Harness the Hidden Sexy Ingredient of Marriage

by | Jul 21, 2019 | Break Free From Relationship Anxiety, Open Your Heart, Relationships | 24 comments

Our culture worships the gods of youth and eternal happiness. If we could bottle and merchandize the elixir of youth, most people in the Western world would purchase it no matter the price. We extol the blemish-and-wrinkle-free face and lay ourselves prostrate at the feet of the toned body. A full head of luxurious hair is enough to sell cars.

When it comes to relationships, the culture sends the message that, like a rose, love and passion fade with time, and if you’re lucky enough to remain married into the middle years, that’s great, but you can pretty much expect to say goodbye to your sex life. The culture sends the clear message that to quell the pit of emptiness and meaningless that often enters at midlife, you’ll need to leave the marriage and go out to find the new and shiny version. Older couples might be sweet, but sexy? Not according to the cultural depiction.

However, marriages based on real love, real sex, and real attraction tell a vastly different story.

When marriage is based on essence-to-essence love, when you learn to love each other well over decades, when you realize that your partner isn’t the sole source of your aliveness, and when you learn and practice the specific Love Laws and Loving Actions that shrink fear and grow love, attraction grows, and you see that aging together is sexy.

What did I just say? I’ll say it again.

Aging together is sexy.

Here’s an example of how it shows up in our marriage:

A few weeks ago, I came home with my first pair of reading glasses. When my husband saw me in the hallway wearing them, he smiled broadly, then pulled me into his arms and said, “You’re so sexy.” It’s the same way I feel about him when he wears his glasses.

I feel blessed beyond words that I’m with a man who thinks I’m sexy wearing reading glasses. But let me make it clear that, because my husband loves my essence, I could probably be wearing a sock on my head and he would find it sexy. When I see him in his studio working on his art or in our son’s room reading to him at night, the sight of him melts my heart. The glasses are cute, but it’s his essence, his commitment, his devotion, his artistic soul that I loved from the beginning that opens me wide and draws me to him.

Here are some other hidden sexy secrets in marriage:

Weathering the storms of life together is sexy.

The sexiness is in knowing that we have each other’s back, that we’ve endured hard times together and come out the other side. There are times when I look at my husband and am in awe of what we have walked through. Co-parenting alone deserves a medal!

I often think back to our early days when we were younger and had less gray hair, the days before reading glasses and stretch marks caused by bearing, birthing and nursing two children, and I wouldn’t wish us back there for the world. Did we even know each other back then? We thought we did, but it’s nothing compared to the rich, multi-textured, nuanced knowing that can only come from years and years of partnership.

A secure bond is sexy.

Science now proves what passionate couples have always known: it’s connection that creates a great sex life, and connection comes from feeling safe and secure in your relationship. Sexiness isn’t about the right lingerie or positions or spicing it up or any of the other gimmicks and fads that the culture splashes across magazine covers. Sexiness is rooted in true connection, which, as Sue Johnson teaches in Hold Me Tight, is rooted in learning to be vulnerable with one another. This takes years, and often requires the assistance of an EFT couples therapist, but it’s worth every ounce of effort to forge the safe bond that opens us to each other.

In short, it’s really time we redefine sexy. Like with nearly every aspect of love and relationships, our culture has it all wrong.

As I’ve shared many times on this site, if I had let the fear-flames engulf my heart all those years ago, I would never be here today, in the middle of our middle years together standing in the garden of our marriage, which is in full bloom and will only continue to flower. If I hadn’t leaned the tools and skills – the Love Laws and Loving Actions that I teach in Open Your Heart: A 30-day course to feel more love and attraction for your partner, our boys wouldn’t be thriving in this garden. If I had allowed fear to rule, I would have missed this extraordinary opportunity to learn how to give and receive love.

My husband and I are far from alone. There are thousands of couples who have gone through my courses and millions of others who have sought other sources of support to help weather the storms of marriage who love each other with a richness that only comes with time and learning to love well. You don’t hear of these stories very often because our news runs on a fear-and-shock cycle where we’re conditioned to believe that real love doesn’t sell. It’s a lie. Real love exists. You have to learn it and earn it, but it exists.

I look forward to meeting you at the next round of Open Your Heart, which will begin on August 4, 2019, where we will walk this road from fear to love… together.



  1. Let me say this. Sheryl has helped me immensely. Like above if I had not taken open heart, learned what love is, dug deep and did inner I would have missed out on my amazing husband. We have gone through so much together and he shows me that we are in this for the long run. He always leads and loves when something tough happens. I’m lucky to have such a loving husband. I never stopped loving him and I am learning what real love is. This article is great.

  2. Sheryl,

    Your post has given me so much comfort and perspective today. As I approach my wedding day, sometimes I have thoughts about divorce statistics, second guessing my choices (although deep down I know I love my partner tremendously and the thought of not being with him tears my heart in two), fearing if I feel “in love” enough, having unwanted thoughts about what it would be like to sleep with other people (admittedly the thoughts seem exciting at first but they are ultimately very uncomfortable and scary to me), etc. You name it I have thought/felt it.

    I’ve experienced anxiety about most aspects of my life for several years now and I am also trying to work through childhood trauma and abandonment issues. My partner and I have had many ups and downs throughout the years but when I am able to connect with him and see beyond my anxious thoughts, we really do have something special. And I hang on to those moments. I have no clue what the future holds (if that isn’t a huge anxiety spike I don’t know what is) but what I do know is that I will venture into the unknown with love and hope. Underneath the depths of my pain and fears, I know that I am looking forward to marrying the person that I love. Now I understand what it means to be at home with that one person and to have meaningful connection. It’s not always flashy or exciting. But it’s grounded. It is comfort and understanding. And in this I find peace.

    I’m rambling but I just wanted to share how much your posts truly mean to me as I continue on this journey ?

    • Hi Ali,

      I can relate to what you wrote because I am going through the same thing. As I get closer to get married, my fear latches onto divorce statistics (which, if you’re a millennial like me, take heart in knowing that our generation is lowering the divorce rate). I look at the kitten we just brought home a few months ago and think to myself, “What if this cat lives longer than our marriage?” I’ve also had sex dreams with random people – but I know that my mind is trying to process the commitment that I’m preparing for. It’s big and unknown and scary, and if you’re an anxious-creative-sensitive, those elements seem to be all the more intense.

      We’ve also gone through our ups and downs, and I know that the ebb will only continue after we’re married. What’s heartening to me is witnessing the down moments and how we have been able to crawl ourselves out by growing as individuals and as a couple. Like you, when I’m able to see beyond the intrusive thoughts, I’m so grateful for our connection and relationship journey. I’m heartened by how much stronger of a foundation I feel when we overcome challenges. Wishing you peace as you prepare for your wedding! <3

    • I’m so glad my posts have been a guiding light, and I’m sending you many blessings as you approach your wedding day.

  3. Hi Sheryl! This was a beautiful and much needed post. I took the self-paced option for OYH about a year and a half ago as I missed the live one, would I be able to join in on this one?

    • My assistant will be sending out an email to everyone who took the self-paced inviting them to participate in this live round. See you there!

  4. I took this course before my wedding; I was spending a lot of money already and balked at the cost. But I considered it an investment in my marriage that was far more important than cake or flowers. I was so busy that I didn’t get to work as closely with the material as I’d hoped, but even the time I put in was clearly worthwhile, and I have all of the emails and readings and documents to look back on! I thought it made a huge difference in my mindset and my ability to see my partner as sexy instead of just stable and secure. One of the big bonuses was that I used the content from the course’s “homework assignments” to write my husband a letter for him to open the morning of our wedding. He loved it. I would STRONGLY recommend this course for any couples–newly engaged, newlyweds, or married for years!

    • This is beautiful, Ashleigh. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Once again, a beautiful post, thank you Sheryl for your writing.
    I’m thinking of signing up to the course. Can I ask does it require input and work from the partner in the relationship?
    I’m sure he’d work with me on the material if needed, but I’d talk to him first about it.

    • The course does not require any input from your partner, but the partner is always welcome to participate should they choose.

  6. Hi Sheryl,

    Reading your book now and it’s great! Will be joining the courses shortly after finishing the book.

    I have lots anxiety over my relationship. We have been living together for almost two years.
    He is a sweet, kind, loving, easy going, and funny Man! I try to communicate how I feel and he holds my hands and just listens to me. He looks at me with such tenderness and tells me how great we are together and says things like I love you more everyday. And now thinking about it, it makes me want to cry because I don’t want to lose what we have. He also says what’s not broken don’t try to fix it! And I can’t seem to wrap my head around those thoughts and feeling and why?

    And I can’t seem to understand, why this is happening. I don’t understand the message in one of my thoughts. Sometimes, when I see other men I think “What if we’re here at the same time for a reason.” I think am I supposed to be with him instead of my significant other. It eats me alive. I don’t want to think that way. I don’t know what to do. I was having those thoughts when I went out to eat with my family and one of my younger sister who is 8 said “what if Merle broke up with you? Then she said I have the perfect break up song for you.” It sent me over board. I was like what if this is a sign. What if she sense something I don’t. It’s So miserable at times.

    It seems like I will have days where I am as happy as I can be and others I drown in the thoughts.

    • Jackie: You’re suffering from classic relationship anxiety. I know how miserable it can be, as do most people who find their way to my work. I strongly encourage you to take my Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course when you’re ready. It will teach you the tools and information that will allow you to understand what’s happening and guide you to heal from the root so that you can open fully to the loving man who stand beside you:

      • Sheryl, in your book you have 4 steps to dismantling intrusive thoughts. Number one says name the thought but what do you name it?

        • You name it as intrusive. You say, “This is an intrusive thought,” which is the first step to de-fusing from it.

  7. Hi Sheryl,

    Thank you for the truth in gentleness, I’ve been a long time learner for years.

    I’m wondering if you could help w something showing up regularly in my partnership… He says he’s torn, bc he finds other women more physically attractive, yet he’s more emotionally attracted to me, and that emotional attraction leads to sexual arousal- he’s unsure if he wants to be together based on this, and wonders if it would be easier with someone else who he’s more physically attracted to bc it would be more simple and straight forward. We both love each other very much, tho with what I describe above, I find myself feeling tortured, as body shame is an ongoing hurdle for me.

    • It sounds like he’s struggling with relationship anxiety, and I’m wondering if he would be willing to take the course.

  8. Every word resonated with me! You and your husband are so adorable! One of my life dreams is to grow very old with my husband and babysit our grandkids together like my grandparents did. I grew up surrounded by adults with solid marriages. My parents and my grandparents on both my parents’ sides were very much in love with each other. Same with my husband. Even my husband’s grandparents’ on both sides died within a year of each other (they were in their late 80s and late 90s). When I watched my grandparents’ lose their spouses, they were so heartbroken. My grandma always said she’ll never love another man and often told stories of all the good things he did. My family is FAR from perfect, but one of the good things we had was strong marriages. So when I had a therapist advise me to think about leaving my husband when my anxiety began to surface in my mid 20s, I ended my sessions with her immediately once I discovered Sheryl’s work!!! My dad however divorced and remarried, but in his case, I always believed his previous marriage wasn’t natural and right for him. So I’m glad he finally found the right person for him.

    I also don’t know why our mainstream culture perpetuates such negative ideas about growing old. My grandma as an extremely fashionable and classy woman. Always received compliments on her outfits and hair. Mine and my husband’s grandpas are also very handsome, even in their 90s. Women flirted with my grandpa way into his 90s. I never understood comments from people about the woes of growing old or when they tell me “appreciate what you got while you’re still young”. I think such mindsets are so toxic and ignorant. We definitely should anticipate each decade as an opportunity to evolve – and refine – our beauty and fashion tastes, and sexiness too!

    • Beautifully shared, katers! This is our dream as well: “One of my life dreams is to grow very old with my husband and babysit our grandkids together like my grandparents did.” Here’s to embracing aging and all of the gifts it brings.

  9. These are life goals, dear Sheryl. I look up to you so much <3 I'm 30 and single, and don't get me wrong, I'm fine being single, but my soul sometimes misses connection and having someone to share love with. Where I live, the culture is so different from your teachings. I'd love to meet someone who has a connection with this kind of emotional work, but my wounded self keeps telling me that I won't find anyone who I truly connect with because I feel that I'm so much different tan the people around me (and I don't want to settle for someone I don't connect with). What are some good tools to meet like-minded, same-sex people? I really don't like Tinder or dating apps, but I'm so stuck. I really want to have a partnership like yours one day <3

  10. Thank you for this, Sheryl! I have been feeling this – after the arrival of my first child with my husband, which was tumultuous, I find myself more and more attracted to him and I feel what we have created – our life and our son – are so precious! I want to add that I sometimes feel a wave of sadness or grief following that emotion. I feel guilty for having to go through that to get here. But as I write it out I realize that’s the voice of my wounded self, wanting to be safe and avoid the inherent uncertainty of a love this deep and wide. Thanks, as always, for sharing yourself and your wisdom with our sensitive souls 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing! And I’m so glad you were able to name the ego-wounded voice, whose sole mission it is to try to control and protect.

  11. Dear all, I find it very useful and insightful to read through these posts that follow Sheryl’s wisdom. Your comments are very comforting! I have been drawn to comment given that I normally see just women replying or commenting. In this case as a man, I want to break down the barrier or smokescreen that is often perceived about men not going through these same fears and anxious thoughts. Perhaps, our modern western world has created a false illusion about men and how much we should feel and truly speak about our emotions.

    All I can say however, is that I too have been going through months of relationship anxiety following to my engagement with my girlfriend in the beautiful Italy. I know that she is all I want in life and in my moments of clarity I am fully aware of how truly fortunate we are to have each other. Our relationship is based on respect, love and strong core values. Values which we both share and have nurtured into our relationship together. Despite all this security and understanding, i too have fallen into the grips of fear and what the future will behold? I’ve been sucked down by worries and hypothetical situations that could happen and these all tend to be negative! Having spent the last 6 months working on my inner self, I am now seeing the light and coming back to myself. Sheryl, I am also reading your book on the Wisdom of Anxiety, a truly remarkable book full of wisdom and knowledge which has served as a tonic for my anxious mind! I see it as a great reference book that one can turn to at any given moment to find guidance, light and peace. Thank you!

    As a final thought, I just want to add that it is vital to talk and discuss how one feels with those who we love as well as our partners. In sharing how we feel we gain mutual understanding and our relationships become stronger. It’s through these deep experiences and in releasing the expectations we are taught to believe that we find peace and real love. The rest is just a mirage!

    Peace and light! G

  12. Why does connection seem like a magical rare thing? It just seems like that essence to essence connection is rare and magical. It’s mysterious. It really does seem like a magical occurrence when someone truly gets and sees your heart and soul. When you can feel that they truly see you and understand you deeply.


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