It can be a slow fade. The way intimacy drifts out of a relationship.
The causes aren’t hard to spot on the back side. The old adage that hindsight is 20/20 applies here, as we wake up one day to see that the trench we’ve slowly dug is shockingly deep.
Crawling back out of it isn’t going to be easy or even possible in some cases.
Where it is possible, the climb back to intimate connection may be arduous. But couples do it. There are countless couples who find their way back to each other.
First, let’s unpack the causes. A slow fade of intimacy usually is the consequence of at least one or more of the below.
3 Causes Behind the Slow Fade of Intimacy in Marriage
1. Too much familiarity
Some familiarity in marriage is a definitely a great thing! There’s comfort in knowing you each can be yourself and make adjustments for each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. That’s part of marriage. Being able to read each other or anticipate, based on heaps of moments and years together. The familiarity can be endearing.
Relational muscle memory.
But I think the downside of too much familiarity is it becomes easy to to take each other for granted and to stop genuinely wanting to know each other. There’s no more mystery—not because there is nothing new to discover, but because one or both spouses doesn’t want to do any more discovering.
The irony is that as individuals, we are constantly changing. There are always new things to discover. Intimacy starts to fade when a husband and wife give up on discovering each other. In some marriage counseling circles, this would probably be described as a husband and wife no longer “dating” each other or “pursuing” each other.
2. Too busy of a calendar
Ahhh, wrangling the calendar! It’s why the child rearing years are so hard on many marriages.
Understandably, kids take a tremendous amount of time and energy. But if a couple doesn’t make some concerted effort to intentionally pour into their marriage, the marriage literally becomes only an arrangement of duties.
Who’s picking up from soccer? Who’s grocery shopping? Who’s going to the Boy Scout meeting? Who’s shopping for the birthday party?
Some couples get on the flip side of those child rearing years, only to discover they don’t have much of a marriage left. They haven’t spent time on the marriage, and the intimacy faded.
And even in marriages where there aren’t kids, sometimes the calendar still gets jammed up with activities or commitments. In some marriages, these are activities and commitments that a husband and wife rarely do together.
Regardless of how the calendar is filling up, the result is there is not much space for nurturing the marriage specifically.
3. Too many crises
I don’t think there is a marriage out there that has experienced at least some unexpected difficulty. It can be a health crisis, financial crisis, extended family crisis. It could be a tragedy. It could be an ill-timed business venture. It could be something that you envisioned would go one way, but then went horribly awry.
It’s impossible to eliminate all of this. I get that. I know that unforeseen risks and losses are part of life, including part of marriage.
To add to the challenge of crises, a husband and wife don’t always handle such difficulties the same way. Crises can and often do drive a wedge in a marriage, so it’s no shock that when this happens, the stress chips away at their intimacy, too.
If intimacy has faded in your marriage, would you attribute the loss to any of the above? Or maybe it is a nuanced version of the above. Or maybe it is something else completely.
Some people may cite betrayal, for example, as a reason. But I think this can be more of an abrupt end to intimacy, when one spouse finds out the other has been unfaithful. Even so, there are definitely ways betrayal can contribute to a slow fade as well.
Think about your marriage and where intimacy has faded. Try to pinpoint when and how that started happening. It can be helpful to grasp the picture of your marriage before trying to dig into solutions.
I will do a future post on suggestions for rekindling and rebuilding intimacy where it has faded.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.