I am a professional in my forties and I have been with my partner for 15 years. By mutual choice, we have no children. My partner loves me deeply and is very committed to me. For the past few years, I have not been sure of my feelings. I don’t know if I’m falling in love or if I’m experiencing some kind of midlife crisis – I certainly feel like I’m not as energetic and virile as I used to be. It has not helped that, since the confinement, my sexual desire has been quite low. I just don’t feel as happy with us as I used to.
We still have a lot in common and my intellect feels fueled and challenged. Do I have a relationship problem or do I need to sit quietly while I go through this transitional stage of life, certainly difficult?
Eleanor says: There are many people who think that if you ask yourself if you should leave, you have Your answer.
I do not believe that. I think it is very common that we stick our restless discontent with life in the closest thing that we are not. We blame our location, our spouse, our work, when in reality our discomfort is ours and it will follow us even if we leave our jobs and leave our families and move to Mexico to start over. It’s worth being wary of the feeling that if we change this one thing, we will finally feel like real life has begun.
I think the question you are faced with here is do you want your relationship to feel different or do you want a different relationship.
That is an important distinction. Fifteen years is a long time, and it would be amazing if they had spent so much time together, plus the confinement, no difference in their desire levels. Much eroticism lives in what we do not know about each other: in the game between mystery and reality, what is hidden and what is revealed. The more you know about someone, the harder it is to keep them alive, which is why every relationship loses something when it turns into pajamas and television (even when it gains something else).
The question is: do you want the erotic, the joy, to come back with this person, Or would you feel a bit disappointing because you would have lost the “excuse” to start over? What sounds more attractive: novelty for novelty or revitalization of the familiar?
Sometimes it is very difficult to tell the difference. So let me ask you a question that seems a bit silly but that I have found helpful in illuminating what I really want. If I reached out to you and offered you a pill that, if you took it, would immediately revitalize your relationship, would you take it? Or would you reject it because it would still be this relationship, and that fact, no matter how good the relationship may turn out to be, does it feel like a problem?
If you take the pill, then you know that you just want this relationship to feel different. That doesn’t mean “standing still,” it means being deliberate about bringing back something of the unknown, the mystery, the possibility.
Take a period of a few months in which you try your best to rekindle this relationship and get all the help you can get: read, hear, find a therapist together if necessary. Don’t expect that you already know the solutions, and don’t expect feelings to change without the behavior. Deliberately pour into your relationship what you want me to pour into you: joy; eroticism; the feeling of being new. It is remarkable how often we stop giving certain things as almost revenge for the fact that we are not getting them.
If, after that period of time, you still feel adrift and insecure, it might be time to reconsider what it is you really want. But for now, don’t think about trying to “know” if your relationship is satisfying; Think about whether you want to do it that way.
Ask us a question
Do you have a conflict, crossroads, or dilemma that you need help with? Eleanor Gordon-Smith will help you think through life’s questions and puzzles, big and small. Questions can be anonymous.
If you have problems using the form, Click here. Read the terms of service here
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism