June 17, 2024
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What If I Am No Longer Attracted to My Husband?

Dear Dr. Chani,

Over the past few years, my marriage has taken a downward trend. The strange thing is that if you watched my family you would never realize that anything has changed. My husband and I seem to get along well; we enjoy spending time together as a family with our three beautiful children; and our home is calm and pleasant. The issue is something that plays out in my own mind, beneath the surface. I do not feel attracted to my husband anymore.

When we were first married, I felt blessed to have found my husband. He is nice, responsible and reliable. We share a lot of the same values, and I respect him. While I was not instantly attracted to my husband when we first began dating, I definitely became attracted to him over time. During many years of our marriage, I did not feel the same issue that I do now.

Of course, there are some things that my husband does that bother me. I tell myself that it is normal to have disagreements and to feel like we do not understand each other sometimes. Usually, I tend not to hold grudges and get over things pretty quickly. So I’m not sure what is leading me to feel this way.

It could be that I am going through a midlife crisis. I just entered my 40s, and suddenly I feel like I am becoming one of the “older” people in my life. Maybe I’m feeling unsettled in general. It could be that I am questioning if my life is good enough at this point, and my marriage is coming along for the ride.

My rational brain tells me that I am lucky to have such a great husband and I should get over this feeling of not being attracted to him. What should I do to feel more in love with my husband and to get past these negative feelings?

Sincerely,

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

One of the most difficult experiences in life is being trapped as a prisoner by your own mind. It sounds like you are struggling with different thoughts and feelings that are preventing you from feeling the way you want to feel. You wish you could figure out where they are coming from and how to change them. While it seems reasonable that you could simply think your way out of your predicament, it is not always that easy.

You raise some possible reasons for your relatively recent decline in your attraction towards your husband. Yet, you find it difficult to pinpoint the source.

The first step to dealing with these uncomfortable thoughts is to clarify more what you mean when you say that you are not attracted to your husband. In most relationships, attraction includes physical desire, emotional understanding and personality compatibility. These three factors—the physical, emotional and personality aspects—become woven together to create a general affinity and attraction to each other. In a thriving relationship, those factors contribute to each other and strengthen each other. In addition, even if one decreases, the others either make up with a partial replacement for it or are so powerful they can prop it up and make it seem like nothing is missing.

For example, as people age, their appearances change. The physical attraction that they might have had as a young couple might not be as present or as strong. In a couple that has a robust relationship, the possible reduction in physical appearance can be made up for, or pale in comparison to, the strong emotional connection that they have developed over time. When couples are bothered by waning levels of physical attraction to each other, they can benefit from asking themselves how their relationship is doing in other areas such as communication and emotional connection. Weaknesses in these areas tend to make couples more conscious of lackluster physical attraction.

Ask yourself if your lack of attraction is associated with a general feeling that you are not drawn to spend time with your husband, have long conversations with him or do things together. Think about: What is the level of emotional intimacy that you feel with each other? How often do you and your husband have honest conversations about each other’s feelings? If you have to think about that for a minute or are not clear about what the question is, I urge you to pursue ways to develop your emotional connection with your husband.

Surprisingly, you might have had a suboptimal emotional connection for a long time. Yet, for many years, day-to-day life might have distracted you and kept you busy. During the past few years, you might have been able to pay more attention to your lack of connection. Your feelings might appear to be new, but it might have been a long-standing situation lurking in the background of your relationship.

We are attracted to people we understand and who understand us. The way for this kind of mutual understanding which promotes attraction in a relationship is for a couple to talk about their thoughts and feelings together. If you and your husband do not have those conversations regularly, your relationship can seem healthy, but it may be emotionally starving. This can affect your attraction. If you and your husband invest energy and effort into improving your communication, it will have positive ramifications in your relationship, including your attraction to each other.

Another factor that can contribute to your feelings is the midlife crisis you describe. Although it is sometimes called a crisis, it is so common that it might just be termed “midlife.” During this period, you may have a tendency to evaluate anything and everything to see if it is measuring up to the expectations you anticipated as your younger self.

People experiencing midlife may notice that a significant portion of their lives has already passed, and they have not yet fulfilled many of their dreams, goals and aspirations. They wonder if anything will change and they will be able to feel fulfilled as they get older. These unsettling feelings can affect the way you think about many aspects of your life, including your attraction to your husband. It is helpful to consult a therapist to reflect on how your feelings of experiencing midlife are affecting you.

On a totally different note, another crucial factor that can cause you to feel differently towards your spouse when all of the other things in your life have not changed much over time is a biochemical or medical issue. Unfortunately, this cause is often overlooked. There is a strong mind-body connection, and it works in two directions. Your mind can affect the way your body feels and your body can affect the way your mind thinks. You might want to consult a medical professional to see if there is a medical reason for this change that you feel. It could be an effect of a medication you are taking, a hormonal shift or something else.

Keep in mind that you are not alone. Many people have gone through ups and downs in life and in their relationships, for many different reasons. Just like you have experienced a decline in your feelings towards your husband in recent years, you can become increasingly positive over time as well. The first steps you can take are to understand more about how you experience your reduced attraction and to consider all possible contributing factors. When you think more about it and see where your issue is coming from, you will be well on your way to resolving it.

Wishing you much success,

Chani


Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist and relationship coach specializing in teaching emotional connection and communication skills for over two decades. She coaches individuals and couples, teaches courses on how to become a master of relationships and provides free relationship resources at chanimaybruch.com. Learn a step-by-step method to improve your ability to emotionally connect with her online course: The RELATE Technique™—Seven Steps to Emotionally Connect Through Conversation. Reach out to her at [email protected].

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