Breaking the Cycle of Being TOO Comfortable in Your RelationshipAugust 23, 2011 • By Moushumi Ghose, MFT Sexuality / Sex Therapy Topic Expert Contributor
There is a place where most couples want to get and feel good about getting to, a place where most people would agree is what a wonderful long term relationship is all about. That lovely secure place is the feeling of comfort. Most couples would agree that it’s the small things that make the long- term relationship special. Shopping for groceries, fixing up the house, running errands together, doing laundry, waking up together, making breakfast, etc. You get the idea, it’s the day to day, simple little things we do that we get to do together in a long term relationship that makes it special, and yes, comfortable.
But, at some point comfort often lends its way to laziness, procrastination, taking our partners for granted, and recognizing that long term is a long time, and too often couples find themselves resting on their laurels. You know what I am talking about, “I am too tired,” “I am not in the mood,” and “Tomorrow. Let’s do it tomorrow.” We begin to put off, what really should done today, until tomorrow. And, a lot of times, we know we are doing it, and we recognize that it might not be good for our relationship, but we can’t seem to break the pattern. Instead, we start worrying or wondering if our partner might be stepping out, and sometimes jealousy and insecurity kick in, creating an even more vicious cycle. We fall back on the comfort, but somewhere in the back of our minds is a sense of discomfort. So, the comfort is a safety zone, but something is missing. We know we must break the cycle of comfort, but it’s too easy of a pattern to fall into and after a while breaking the cycle is weird, awkward and even somewhat embarrassing. We get to know our partner really well emotionally and intimately and we forget to integrate our, re-integrate our sexuality. We intuitively know how but with so many other bridges build it feels like learning to walk all over again. And in many ways it is. It’s learning to walk down the sexual, sensual path with your intimate partner and confidante in a romantic way.
The good news is that it can be done, and it can actually be done fairly easily. And, guess what? You have the power to do it. It just takes a tiny little effort to say, “Yes,” instead of “Not tonight.” Yes, even if you are still angry, even if it feels weird, even if you are really not in the mood and don’t have the energy, learn to say, “Yes” to your relationship. It’s worth it, isn’t it?
I know what you are thinking. Easier said than done, right? Well, there is a way to get your needs met too, in the process. Communication has a lot to do with it. Yes, does not necessarily mean that the man must achieve a full erection, or the woman achieve a full arousal. “Yes,” does it even mean that intercourse has to occur, or orgasm has to be achieved. Yes, may mean kissing each other for 5 minutes, or taking off your clothes and lying together naked and just talking about your day. Yes, could mean taking a bath together, or just lighting some candles and breathing together. Yes, could mean reading erotic novels together or watching an erotic film, going to an adult store, or doing a sensual massage together. Yes, could mean talking about a fantasy or creating one together. Yes, can mean a non-sexual role-play that is still arousing. “Yes,” could mean mutual masturbation.
My point is that “Yes,” does not have to be sexual but that it should be sensual and arousing, exciting and fun, romantic and titillating, and it should be comfortable. Sometimes the thought of having to perform sexually with someone who has become our best friend, can seem down right daunting. You have permission to take it slow, and to take it where you want and need it to go. Your partner has permission to join along on the ride, with no expectations. No one has to have sex, no one needs to orgasm, just enjoy each other’s company in a sensual setting. I do however strongly recommend getting naked, and women this can mean slipping into something sexy first. I also recommend tuning off the TV, computers and cell-phones. Get creative, break the cycle not just of the comfort, but of your ideas of sex, sexuality and sensuality which contribute to the comfort default, the perceived comfort. Learn to connect in other intimate ways. It takes five minutes a day.
© Copyright 2011 by Moushumi Ghose, MFT, therapist in West Hollywood, California. All Rights Reserved.
Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org. The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. The view and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
KayeAugust 24th, 2011 at 4:21 AM
i am there living in this “too” comfortable zone. it is pretty boring
Carl.BAugust 24th, 2011 at 7:26 AM
Wow this was something I really was looking for! I’ve been married for five years now and this comfort that my wife and I share is starting to get to us…well to me at least. There is no more that excitement that existed while we were dating and frankly, I feel disappointed.
thanks a lot for the suggestions here.I am sure to try them because I really want to get that buzz back into our marriage.
Samuel T.August 27th, 2011 at 8:46 PM
I wonder if that point is where people start having affairs because you’re bored out of your skull with your partner and start looking for a new one behind their backs.
Can any of you folks share any ways to keep things going smoothly when this happens?
O. KerriganAugust 29th, 2011 at 3:01 PM
That’s all very nice to think about and easy to do-IF you’re a couple living alone. When you’ve got a young family, you can’t cavort around the house naked. When you have one ear open for a child outside your bedroom door it’s impossible to relax and enjoy being intimate. It’s even worse when it’s a teenager because you know that they know exactly what’s going on behind that door!
How about sharing ideas for those parents? And please don’t say book into a hotel. Most parents don’t have that kind of money to spare.
Ashton D. GriffithAugust 29th, 2011 at 3:57 PM
@O. Kerrigan: I agree. Children are a big reason we lost our connection because the spontaneity isn’t there anymore. You can’t suddenly decide you’re both going to spend all day Saturday in bed doing nothing but chatting, dozing, watching movies, making love and eating junk food.
My husband and I used to do that often before the kids came along: we’d camp out for the full day in bed, reconnecting with each other.
I love my children deeply but I do miss that…
H.MasonAugust 29th, 2011 at 5:37 PM
@Samuel T.– Well, you can always do things together instead of vegetating or spend time with the friends of your SO. Getting to know their friends will open up more friends to you, keep life more interesting for you both and plenty of things to talk about.
Finding a common interest is great for connecting with your partner. Trying to do it yourself…well, not so much.
nicole pierceAugust 29th, 2011 at 5:49 PM
@H.Mason– Oh, I very much disagree. You don’t want all your friends to be mutual ones. Ever read The Prophet?
“Love one another
But make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea
Between the shores of your souls
Fill each other’s cup
But drink not from the same cup
Sing and dance together and be joyous,
But let each one of you be alone
Even as the strings of the lute are alone
Though they quiver with the same music
Give your hearts
But not into each other’s keeping
For only the hand of life
Can contain your hearts
And stand together
Yet not too near together
For the pillars of the temple stand apart
And the oak tree and the cypress
Grow not in each other’s shadow.”
When you give each other that space you have more to talk about and your partner won’t feel suffocated. My advice would be this: Don’t poach all your partner’s friends just because you can’t be bothered to find your own or are too insecure to be comfortable about them having friends of their own!
LMRAugust 31st, 2011 at 10:24 PM
@nicole pierce-That’s good advice. Find a common interest by all means and maybe both join a group that’s into whatever that interest is or a night class you both think you would like. No wedging yourself into their current circle of friends! Your partner won’t appreciate it and neither will their friends.
Nothing kills an emotional connection stone dead like feeling your partner doesn’t give a damn about you having your own identity anymore, always wanting it to be “us” and “we” and no room left for “me” or “I”.
ssloveboatSeptember 2nd, 2011 at 4:06 PM
Things can get boring in a relationship after several years, that’s true. Keeping it fresh and vibrant is a facet of that lifetime commitment. When we don’t make the time or put in the energy to do what we want with our spouse to revitalize and enrich our relationship, it will fall to bits.
Also, there’s more to a relationship than sex. If you don’t find what that “more” is before menopause and ED kick in, something that affects all women and more than half of all men respectively, it’s not going to turn out well. Remember why you fell in love with them and say I love you every single day.
SALSeptember 19th, 2011 at 4:18 PM
The simplicity of of saying “yes” instead of putting something off seems so easy that you can’t understand why you can’t just use your willpower to say “Yes”. Except when the moment comes to say “yes” it seems oh so much harder! It’s a moment where you really, really, REALLY don’t want to do something but you know that if you don’t you’ll kick yourself afterwards.
I wish I knew of an effective way to combat this because I’ll admit i don’t have the will power to “learn to say, yes” as the author. Fortunately for me, my hubby is an awesome guy and are relationship hasn’t suffered from my procrastination one bit. But what worries me is that this is likely to change 5 – 10 years down the road, so it’s best if I can change now in order to prevent our marriage from falling into pieces.
Moushumi GhoseOctober 18th, 2011 at 2:38 PM
O. Kerrigan, Yes, having kids puts a whole other twist on things. And having teens who ‘know’ what’s going on behind the closed door is tricky, but I am a firm believer in letting your children know that you and your spouse’s relationship is an important one, and that it does come first, before the children. Tell your teen, “A happy couple equals happy parents.” Letting your teen know you will be spending quality time together for the next hour in your bedroom with the door shut, is absolutely acceptable. Married couples are intimate together and why rob kids/teens of that knowledge by acting like it doesn’t exist. Not to mention it helps them see what a good working ‘grown-up’ relationship looks like, intimacy and all. If your kids are old enough, that is. If your kids are not old enough to watch themselves for an hour here and there, waiting until they go to bed, is your next best bet.
AntoinetteApril 11th, 2015 at 10:35 PM
Thank, you. Your advice is solid. I’m going to try it with my partner. Very slowly. Like geriatric turtle slow.
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