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How Can I Fall Back in Love with my Husband?

QUESTION: I have been married for 12 years. My problem is simple: How do I fall back in love with my husband? I know I still love and care for him -- I wouldn't do anything to hurt him for the world. But how do I feel that zing when he touches me?

ANSWER: Two great romance killers in marriage are loss of individuality and lack of respect. They merge so that we cannot feel our lover as a respected "other" and lose sight of the unique qualities that attracted us to begin with. The old adage, "How can I miss you if you don't go away?" illustrates that attraction is based on healthy individuality. Too much separateness can cause alienation and loneliness, but too much togetherness blurs the autonomy we need to feel that we are chosen by -- not stuck with -- our partners.

It is fair to say that feeling a "zing" every time your husband touches you is unrealistic for any long-term relationship. We should strive for interaction patterns that create a healthy sense of zest and play. Some couples augment this through good-humored teasing, others through romantic dinners or community activities.

In the early stages of courtship we may experience stimulation at our partner's presence -- even his voice. In a long-term relationship it becomes necessary to take responsibility for noticing how you "turn on" to your husband. Ask yourself what needs to happen for your mind and body to be romantically primed.

Don't be shy. Be willing to talk to your husband about what causes each of you to feel romance and passion. Remember your courtship: What qualities attracted you to one another? Try recalling them as you look at your husband, and try to see him in a fresh way. When you feel those feelings, express your attraction and respect.

Rest assured, you are not alone in your struggle to sustain the spark that can only come from a healthy sense of individualism in your partnership. The balance is a delicate and ever-changing dance, and it's not too late to invite your husband to explore ways to develop your marital choreography.


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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