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I'd like to get your opinion on a question I've asked numerous pastors, pastors' wives, marriage counselors, and friends--without getting an answer that has satisfied me.

Don't you need infatuation, at least early on in your marriage, in order for you and your partner to develop closeness and intimacy?

My husband and I have been married 11 1/2 years -- two kids. We're committed to each other, love each other, and get along for the most part. But we've had problems since the beginning of our marriage. We're both Christians, and I know that having God in our lives is one of the only things that has kept us together. Plus our children and the fact that we're both children of divorce. We don't want our kids to grow up the way we did. We both feel God led us to one another, although on bad days, we question whether it was God we heard or just our own voices.

Our fundamental problem? Before we got married, and even since, I can honestly say I loved my husband and was attracted to him and felt we had chemistry as a couple, but I didn't feel the same degree of infatuation, butterflies, lust, passion, "love of my life" feeling, whatever you want to call it, as I did for past boyfriends. Or that I felt I should have for him. And something felt off. I feel it kept us, and continues to keep us, from being emotionally connected.

I hadn't had many relationships before I got married, so I wasn't some wild, promiscuous chick who'd had dozens of sexual partners before I got married. Not judging anyone who has--just trying to clarify that I don't have an extensive history of hanging-on-the chandelier, wild, monkey sex. ("Do it to me, Sheldon. You're an animal, Sheldon.")

Nevertheless, in reading my old diaries, it was very easy to remember how I felt about 1) my first puppy love at age 17--no sex involved and 2) a long-time crush-- never really dated, and no sex. Just a few kisses here and there. But my feelings him lasted for years, even without having any contact with this guy. So based on these two relationships, I have had that infatuation, those butterflies, that heart fluttering when the object of my affection walks into the room. But I have only felt this way minimally with my husband. Never to the same level as with these two guys.

Counselors, pastors, and friends have all told me that I can't compare feelings for old boyfriends to feelings for my husband. They tell me that infatuation fades, and that it isn't what sustains a marriage. I know all of that, I really do. But I feel that by not having those butterflies or the "you complete me" feeling at the beginning of our marriage, it has made our marriage suffer. My husband questions my love for him and says I'm not really "into him." That's not entirely true. As I said, I love him, and I am attracted to him, and I want to be with him, but maybe I'm not "into him" as much as he wants, and it's leaving him feeling hurt and rejected--and somewhat angry. And it's leaving me confused.

If you want to talk about the 5 Love Languages, and I have read the book several times, my primary love language is "Words of Affirmation" and his is "Acts of Service." I feel my husband doesn't speak my language and doesn't try. He rarely gives me specific compliments. He might say--"you look nice" before we go to church, but he doesn't, nor has he ever, told me things like, "I love you so much," "You're beautiful," or "you're fun to be around." In his defense, he didn't say these things even before we got married, but isn't part of being married learning your spouse and learning how to please him or her? I think it's because he's angry and hurt, so he's all "Skip her. Why should I make her feel loved? She doesn't make me feel loved."

I know I'm not perfect, and I used to be a very selfish person before I got married, but my husband will admit that since we've been married, I've gone out of my way to do acts of service for him and to provide physical affection. Although he'll say that he still doesn't feel that I'm "into him" enough, even with all of the things I do for him and us.

So is there any hope for creating passion in my marriage? I see books and articles about "rekindling passion." Well, our passion wasn't all that strong to begin with. "Rekindling" doesn't really apply to us. So what do we do now? Can we "kindle" passion?
 

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I think in our society it is expected, and it certainly makes life interesting and fun.

However, if you look throughout history, it is not normally a requirement. Throughout history people have had arranged marriages or marriages for mutual benefit, that last long periods of time and are relatively happy. All existed without that initial romance period.

I think much more important than infatuation is both parties being committed to the success of the marriage, putting their partner's needs before their own, and the desire to work through and solve problems (ie compromise). If both parties are doing that, the intimacy will build and grow and the romantic feelings will follow suit.

Compare that to marriages in western culture (specifically the US), where two people who are incompatible and have no relationship skills marry each other because they are infatuated. Of course the infatuation will fade and then they are left with a flaky foundation.

I think your problem is not that you didn't start with those feelings, but that he's not meeting your needs now. If he started speaking your love language, being affectionate to you and making you feel understood, desired, and special, then the feelings would come naturally.

Yes there is definitely hope, but you need to be 100% open and honest with him about it. Don't hold back to protect him. The easiest way to do this is with a written letter, so you can get out your thoughts clearly without any negativity in your communication. If that doesn't work, then you can look to escalate it further.

Give him a chance to meet your needs. If he works to make you feel special, your brain chemicals will catch on.
 

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I would say its because you never had sex with your previous BFs. You still you are and were missing something like you need some type of closure.
With your H as long as he feels youre not putting everything into it which you agree youre not you cant really expect more. He seems to be trying although not enough by your reckoning and not getting anything in return. I think you have to change first.
 

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Thanks for your comments. accept, I don't know how to "put everything into it." I don't know what that means in this situation. I go out of my way to meet his needs, to arrange for us to spend time together as a couple, to maintain our sex life, to make him a priority in my life. (He always felt he wasn't a priority in my life). It's like when one of my friends told me to "open my heart." What does that mean? I know what it means to feel like my heart is open to someone--that I'm emotionally vulnerable and transparent and showing my love for him. But I don't know how to do it in this situation.
 

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As long as youre not 'infatuated' you wont put everything into it.
What should you do.
Perhaps just tell him to put everything he can into it. And he mean his way not yours. Give him the chance. Then maybe you will become infatuated.
 

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I would say its because you never had sex with your previous BFs. You still you are and were missing something like you need some type of closure.
All of those times I was a good girl and held out. Damn. I should have sowed my oats. :)
 

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Thanks for your comments. accept, I don't know how to "put everything into it." I don't know what that means in this situation. I go out of my way to meet his needs, to arrange for us to spend time together as a couple, to maintain our sex life, to make him a priority in my life. (He always felt he wasn't a priority in my life). It's like when one of my friends told me to "open my heart." What does that mean? I know what it means to feel like my heart is open to someone--that I'm emotionally vulnerable and transparent and showing my love for him. But I don't know how to do it in this situation.
You've already said you feel like you're going out on a limb for him but he's not reciprocating. Have you told him this? Does he understand how important his words are to you? Do you feel like if he came home and said all the things to you that would make your heart melt that you would feel differently about him? Does he know what those things are that you long for him to say?

Guys are stupid...we don't think much about that stuff. He needs your help to treat you right. Tell him what you need.
 

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All of those times I was a good girl and held out. Damn. I should have sowed my oats. :)
In regards to my own marriage, I've felt the same way. I've wondered if maybe I shouldn't have been wild and crazy. Sometimes, in my humanity, I still feel that way.

It's especially frustrating when there seems to be no passion in my own marriage and yet I see people who broke all the "rules" and seem happy. One of my wife's relatives was as promiscuous as you can be back in the day; she ended up marrying a man she slept with at the time who ended up being a solid provider and as he's gotten older has developed quite a bit of maturity. They both are very happy with each other now and have a marriage I envy. Meanwhile, my wife and me did things the right way and we're both miserable. Really made me question my choices.

Then I read Psalm 73:13 - 15. "Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. "

Here's the crux of that Psalm: (73:17) " till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny."

A lot of the stuff I see around me in my life doesn't make sense unless I keep focused on God. I think that's what this Psalm is trying to say.
 
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