It’s far too common for newly married or new-parent couples to find themselves searching for more—more time together, more romance, more connection, more intimacy. Maybe, after the wedding is over and the thank-you notes are written, you’re thinking, “What are we supposed to do now?” Or maybe, when the baby is crying and the laundry is piling up, you’re thinking, “When will we feel like ourselves again?”
Research by Dr. Barry McCarthy, sex and relationship expert and author of Rekindling Desire, indicates that couples are more likely to become sexually inactive in the first two years of marriage than at any other period in their married life (McCarthy and McCarthy, 2014). His recommendation is for couples to reenergize their relationship intimacy by enhancing desire, pleasure, eroticism, and satisfaction.
One place to start on the journey toward deeper intimacy is letter writing. Writing letters to each other is a good way to communicate your thoughts and feelings amid the demands of work and family. Remember the spark of excitement and desire when you received an old-fashioned, handwritten love letter? That’s the spirit of this activity. These are loving letters, full of your hopes, dreams, warmth, and tenderness. These letters inspire a deepening of intimacy because they help you communicate without distraction and with a genuine voice. The goal is for your words to bring you closer and help you feel more connected.
So here’s how it works: You and your partner commit to exchanging letters, ideally handwritten (but emailed will do), a few times a week. You can each answer one prompt below at a time, and you don’t have to follow the same order. It’s best to direct your answers to your partner, just as you would when writing a letter to anyone else.
Your letters have the power to become the vision statement for your shared future together.
- What are ways you feel loved and accepted by your partner, even with an acknowledgement of failings and imperfections? Are there different ways you show your partner you love and accept them?
- Describe a fantasy, romantic or sexual, you’d like to experience with your partner. Where are you? What does it feel like? What happens first, then next, then after that? How does it end?
- What is a metaphor for your relationship so far? Explain the metaphor. How would you change that metaphor to illustrate the kind marriage you want to have in the future?
- How do you think you and your partner should deal with bad luck or disappointment? How will you show your partner you are on their team no matter what?
- Fill in the blanks and then explain: “If I were living my life the best version of myself as a partner that I could be, I would continue to ___, I would do ___ differently, and I hope you would feel more ___.”
- What do you appreciate most about your partner? What personality traits, strengths, and talents do you admire and value?
- What are your hopes, goals, and dreams for your marriage and family together?
At the end of a few weeks, compile your letters and go over them together. What do you notice about where your answers overlap or where they are unique? Reread them often and allow the words to calm you when you’re angry, soothe you when you’re sad, and fill you with hope when you’re worried. Your letters have the power to become the vision statement for your shared future together.
If these prompts, your answers, or your partner’s answers have stirred up deeper feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, or disappointment, you may want to seek individual counseling, couples therapy, or sex therapy. The help of an experienced therapist is an investment in yourself and your marriage.
McCarthy, B., & McCarthy, E. (2014). Rekindling desire, 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Routledge.
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