Unfortunately, when this stage ends, usually after 3 to 6 months, many couples are left feeling the magic is gone. A relationship that once seemed so intense now seems mundane. But established monogamy may still provide a feeling of comfort and security, and partners may believe it is normal to exchange that spark for stability. A type of joint complacency.
I believe couples can have both, and they should never feel it’s fair for familiarity to justify their frustration from monogamy. What better time to start this new chapter in the relationship than on Valentine’s Day.
The Romantic Stage
The Romantic Stage is intended to emotionally and physically bond two people, and sets them in the direction of building a relationship. It should be regarded as a temporary stepping stone with the hope of a meaningful and sensual future.
Like a bird about to launch, couples have the chance to fly to new heights and experience new discoveries together. However, when the Romantic Stage is regarded as the expectation instead of the starting point, partners risk being propelled into monotony.
The Romantic Stage must transform into Romance.
Patricia Love, Ed.D. (the author of “Hot Monogamy”) defines Romance as, “The ongoing expression of love between two people.”
See Pat love talk about sex and monogamy below.
Often the idea of conscious effort to strengthen a relationship can be interpreted as constant work. I’ve had clients say, “I don’t think a relationship should be this hard, I could be with the wrong person.”
The truth is: monogamy is work. It may not seem easy, but it will be worth it.
In session, I try to teach couples that they are not trying to get back to the Romantic Stage, but they must move forward towards new experiences in Romance.
My goal is to help couples address their sexual needs as well as their emotional needs. Below are some techniques that I have used that have been effective.
This is a well known tool, but there is an important structure that should be included to help build the romance and excitement.
Rule 1: There should be a Host and a Guest for each date night.
The Host is in charge of creating the date.
The most important thing to remember as the Host is that you are making all these decisions based on the likes and dislikes of the Guest. The food or dessert should come from a restaurant the Guest likes, or the ambiance created should be what you know the Guest wants. The Host is expected to use their knowledge of the Guest to tailor the date.
Guests also have their role to play in date nights, which is equally important.
Hosts report feeling elated having planned something special for the Guest, and describe feelings of appreciation when they see that the Guest has enjoyed the date. The Guest feels their partner is attuned to them when they see how well thought-out the date is.
Guests and Hosts will take turns for each date, so that each partner gets their turn to give and receive.
Rule 2: Date Nights should be scheduled.
Finding time on your schedule and committing to this time assures each partner feels they are special and a priority. Scheduling is especially important for couples with young children who need to prepare by finding a babysitter or finding a free night.
Couples can plan date nights around their schedule. Some couples are able to do it every week, some once a month. The goal is consistency, not frequency.
Rule 3: Add a sensual element to the Date Nights.
Partners can agree for the date night to be a sensual date night.
I had a couple that combined their date night with sensual date night. The couple enjoyed cuddling in bed naked for 30 minutes; holding each other and nuzzling. Afterwards the Host blindfolded the Guest and fed her her favorite dessert. The couple described the night as loving and exciting.
The psycho-education I provide to clients helps them to diversify their sex. Couples sometimes try to add variety to their lovemaking by trying out novel positions or seeking out unusual environments for sex. I discuss lovemaking styles with couples and focus on ways they can vary the amount of time and effort. There are three styles of lovemaking that can be appropriate at different times and meet different sexual needs.
Often termed “the Quickie,” as the name suggests, this style is quick and not too involved. It’s ideal if only one of you is aroused, if you want to alleviate physical tension, if the hour is late, or if there is limited time for foreplay (perhaps because of children or a hectic work schedule). It’s a spontaneous way to be sexual, especially if it has to be a secret encounter (in the closet or the bathroom) because there may be young children in the home. Couples report feeling the covert element added to the passion in the relationship.
This style requires a bit more time and usually the focus of both partners is for both to reach orgasm. This is the style most couples report using, but it should never be the only style used.
This lovemaking style takes more time (sometimes fifteen to thirty minutes) which means there can be time for foreplay. Because it is not meant to be rushed, couples can get comfortable and cozy, preferring to do it on a weekend morning or at the end of the work evening. If the goal for both partners is to climax, then couples can include discussing sexual needs or advising their partner where they want to be touched so they reach orgasm.
This style is intended to be more relaxed and prolonged. An orgasm can be part of it, but there should be leisurely caressing, cuddling and exploration of erogenous zones. Couples may jointly want to set the environment by adding music, candles or dressing up in lingerie or role play outfits. Because this style is meant to take more time, couples may incorporate it by scheduling it in advance.
I encourage couples to name the styles so they can clearly convey to their partners their sexual needs when they are feeling aroused. Taking advantage of these lovemaking styles helps couples add variety to their sex life rather than feeling they have settled into one style.
All of these techniques are tools to help monogamous couples create lifelong romance. The goal is to find ways to say “I love you” to your partner. What helps to maintain the romance is when both partners develop these tools together.
It is important to note, and not uncommon, that there are instances where couples experience more complicated problems that affect the development of romance. This can include pain during intercourse, low sexual desire, or poor communication of erotic fantasies. The latter usually indicates a deeper problem of emotional expression in the relationship.
These issues do not mean romance is not possible, and seeking guidance from a Sex Therapist or Marriage and Family Therapist is the best course. Couples should always feel they have options to enhance their monogamous relationship.
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