Huffpost Weddings
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dr. Fran Cohen Praver Headshot

Keeping The Flame Of Desire Lit

Posted: Updated:

The honeymoon is long over. Six years later, that heady time of lust, love, and red hot passion has faded. Courtney and Adam still love each other and care deeply for each other, but romance and sexual desire has taken a back seat to everyday stresses of work and home life. With their lacklustre love life, they don't exactly feel like celebrating Valentine's Day.

"How often do you make love?" I inquired of them.

Adam responded sadly, "Once or twice a month."

I then asked, "How was romance and sexual desire when you first met?"

Courtney smiled and said, "We couldn't take our hands off each other. Adam turned me on just by looking into my eyes and we made mad passionate love. It was thrilling and exhilarating!"

"Courtney's right. It was so exciting and we made love a lot, on the floor, the kitchen table, anytime, anywhere." Adam concurred.

"How long did that steamy passion last?" I asked.

"I'm not sure. I think our sex life cooled off after the second baby two years ago." Adam said.
I addressed both of them with, "And why's that?"

Courtney explained, "We're both working and the two kids take time, so that at the end of the day we just veg out. It's not that we don't love each other; we love each other lot."

"Uh huh." I remarked.

Adam then explained the state of their love life. "Courtney's my best friend and we share a lot of feelings. I'm there for her and she's there for me."

Courtney expanded on his explanation. "Adam is reliable, steady, and I feel comfortable with him. I don't think he'd ever cheat."

"And you Adam?"

Looking down at the floor dejectedly, Adam said, "Yeah, I feel the same way. I love her and want her sexually, but every time I approach her, she's too tired. So I gave up."

Here then is a couple in which one spouse feels too tired to get in touch with her sexual desire. That's one of myriad reasons that lust can get disconnected from love. In some cases, infidelity by one spouse stains the marriage so that the betrayal places the other spouse's sexual desire in the deep freeze. Still other couples are plagued with hurtful interactions like misunderstanding, insults, blame, attack, control issues, neglect or abuse that have not been resolved. In these and in many other marriages, lust has been placed on the back burner.

And it seems that keeping the flame of desire is next to impossible.

But it is not so. You can connect love and lust and get the red hot flames of desire lit.

Let's go back in time when you first fell in love, when love and lust went hand in hand. Here's a little of what went on in the brain when you were madly in love. That was when your brain signaled the release of hormones and brain chemicals. Testosterone, estrogen, dopamine and natural opioids sent you high in the skies of erotic pleasure; oxytocin and vasopressin promoted love, attachment, loyalty, and trust. In a flash these brain chemicals aroused romance, passion, and bonding. Mirror neurons connected you and your partner in feelings of mad passionate love and lust. But somehow, the flames of desire may have gotten snuffed off as is the case of Adam and Courtney.

An understanding of the unconscious motivations for dampening down the exciting passion and sexual desire is the first step to relighting the red hot flames. Often it is the fear of getting hurt again or the fear of losing your partner. If you surrendered to sexual desire along with devotion, to excitement along with comfort, to spontaneity along with familiarity, to passion along with security, to love along with lust, you would have everything in one person. If somehow you lost that person to illness, death, separation, you would lose everything. So much to risk!

Once you disconnect love and lust you have less to lose in the event of separation. Those matching mirror neurons that once linked you in erotic feelings of sexual desire, now link you in friendship, caring, love, and comfortable behavior.

Unfortunately, when you bring love to the foreground and lust to the background, you squeeze the life out of the relationship and the electricity out of the neural circuits. You then have the steak without the sizzle. But you can change all of that. You can bring romance, passion, and sexual desire back to the foreground.

Here then are some specific ways to keep the flame of desire lit.

Fantasize

Action begins in the mind. Research shows that imagination can change the brain and trigger the release of love-inducing chemicals. Ask your partner to visualize the scene when he or she was in love with you and sexually aroused. How did you seduce your partner or did he or she seduce you? How did you both feel? Was it mutual, spontaneous, and reciprocal? Mirror neurons were reflecting the magic of lust to you and your partner.

Take the Fantasy Further

Ask your partner to join you in fantasizing about a delightful romp in the afternoon in broad daylight, or a romantic candlelit dinner at home with lovemaking between courses. Together, you will make a mental picture of the verbal and sensual foreplay that aroused both of you in the past. For a thrilling experience ask him or her to change things up in her mind. So if you always initiated foreplay, let him or her imagine that he or she is undressing you and beginning the action.

Set the Stage

Before you act on your sexual arousal, create a safe distance that can be even more titillating. Send steamy texts, email or call your partner. Forget modesty; be explicit and even raunchy. Tell your partner exactly what you'd like him or her to do to you and what you'd like to do to your partner. Your partner's mirror neurons will reflect your lack of inhibitions and he or she may even top you with his or her free abandon. At this point, you both feel a compelling sexual longing for each other. Stay with the experience and let it dig deep into your brain.

Behind the Scenes

Novelty is vital to successful love making, so there is nothing quite as exciting as new experience. In my book, I provide a brief overview of Tantric Sex. You can practice these ancient Hindu rituals with or partner or any other types of exotic love making that you would like.

The Main Act

Surrender to the ecstatic feeling that surface from deep inside of you and share these feelings with your partner. Only then can you both surrender to each other. The magic arises when you lose yourself in your partner only to find yourself as you reach orgasm. Whether simultaneous with your partner or not, orgasm is the climax and you have rekindled the flame of desire in your partner with brain chemicals bathing the two of you.

The Final Act

One you have experienced the ecstasy of orgasm that's not all there is. There's lots more. Experience the feelings of oneness, of complete immersion in your partner. Once the flame of passion dies down, slow-burning coals continue to provide a soft, warm, afterglow. Allow the warmth to permeate your body and soul and reach out with affection to your partner. Kiss, hold each other, and whisper amorous words. This is hardly the end point of love. And that's because there are no end points of love and lust, only new beginnings.

For more details on how to keep the flame of desire lit read my book The New Science of Love: How Understanding the Brain's Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship (Sourcebooks, Casablanca, 2011).