What do you do if you fantasize about romance novels or TV shows, but you can’t seem to fantasize about your husband?
It’s Rebecca on the blog today. I wrote a post a while back talking about how sexual desire is not wrong in and of itself, and why sexual attraction isn’t a sin. But what about the flip side? What about women who are married and WANT to be able to daydream or fantasize about their husbands, but they just don’t get all that excited anymore?
Now, when we say “fantasizing” I don’t mean role-playing in your head–I mean simply thinking explicitly about sex with your husband.
Some women are so uncomfortable thinking about sex explicitly that they read novels instead or throw themselves into rom-coms and romantic TV shows because it gives them an outlet. It’s an escape tactic–sex is happening to someone else, but they’re experiencing the rush. It’s safer.
But it’s good to be a sexual person. It’s OK to make yourself some lunch and, while you make that lunch, think explicitly about what you want to do to your husband tonight. It’s OK to find yourself daydreaming about something he did last week that felt amazing. Sex isn’t something to be ashamed of in your marriage–and wanting and thinking about sex isn’t bad either.
What we see a lot in just talking to friends and looking at the wider Christian culture is that many women are obsessed with romance stories, flirty TV shows, or handsome actors but have a really hard time getting excited and flustered over their husbands. So today I’m talking about a bit of the psychology of how to re-wire your brain so that your husband becomes the object of your fantasy again.
Purge any roadblocks and junk from your brain
Many women find it hard to fantasize about their husbands, but easy to get caught up in other fantasies. This is why erotica as well as completely G-rated romance fiction are so popular among women–it’s all an escape where you’re whisked off to an adventure somewhere else with a new, exciting person.
But many women find themselves utterly dissatisfied with their actual marriage after reading one of these books–even if it’s just another Amish Christian romance novel.
If you find yourself obsessing over romance novels or fantasizing about a character in a TV show or movie you are watching, it may be time to cut that out from your life. It’s not wrong to read romance novels or watch TV shows with lead actors you find attractive–not at all! But when it crosses over to consuming your mind and crowding out your desire for your husband, it may be time for a break from it.
It’s like this: if you want to lose weight, you have to work out. But your workouts aren’t going to be very effective if you’re still eating a bag of chips every day. You’ve got to cut out the chips if you’re going to see any progress, or all your hard work is just going to be destroyed when you put junk back into your body. It’s the same with romantic and sexual fantasies.
Recognize that your libido isn’t only about the times you’re having sex–it encompasses your whole relationship
Libido is about more than how easy or hard it is to turn you on. Libido (especially for women, but also for men) encompasses the sexual energy of your relationship as a whole–that’s why little things like him doing the dishes or thinking to grab another carton of eggs on his way home can actually improve your sex life! When the relationship as a whole is good, it’s much easier to raise your libido, and when the relationship is bad, often libido takes a nose dive.
But often, people in perfectly good marriages can act and think in a way that convinces them that their marriage is “blah” or disappointing.
In psychology, there’s a concept called “Cognitive Dissonance.” This is the feeling you get when your beliefs and your actions don’t match up–it feels bad. So you do some mental gymnastics and create new beliefs or alter your old ones so that you can match what your actions are. How we respond to cognitive dissonance is what impacts the kind of person we become.
The fun part is that we can hijack cognitive dissonance for our marriages. If you want to believe or think something, start acting like you do already. Do you believe your husband is a bit boring, or you’re not in love with him anymore? Shake your brain up by acting in the exact opposite way. Treat your husband like you already think he is the most amazing man in the world. Get up when he comes in the door and run over and give him a kiss. While you watch TV, run your hands through his hair or put your head on his shoulder. Talk about the wonderful things he does, or what he’s great at. Think about how he made you feel when you were dating, and re-live those emotions while you’re running your errands. Your brain will have to compensate for your actions that are against what you believe.
I’m not talking about lying to yourself here–some husbands are just bad men. But for many, you’re married to a wonderful man but you’ve lost the spark. So you’re training your brain to find the spark, even if you’ve lost it. That’s all.
If you focus on these things, and you act in a way that says, “I think you’re the most amazing man in the world,” your brain starts to become more alert to things he does that confirms the idea that he is fantastic and amazing since you’ve spent time building up those neural pathways.
Before you know it, it becomes easier and easier to fall in love with him all over again.
Learn to re-frame your thoughts
Often fantasizing about your husband can be difficult because it’s easy to list off 400 things he could do better, but it’s difficult to think of an equal number of things he does right!
This is because our brains are primed to notice negative or potentially harmful things. Happy things pose no threat–so your brain just lets them pass by. But when something bad happens, it’s your brain’s job to alert you so that you can make sure you’re safe and won’t experience any discomfort.
Fantasizing about your husband, then, is at least partially about learning to reframe how you see things.
Do you see him not putting the dishes in the dishwasher right as yet another thing you need to re-do, or him taking ownership of household cleaning (even if it means it’s not getting done “your way”)?
Do you immediately jump to the thought that he’s inconsiderate when he gets home an hour later than he planned to when out with his friends, or do you celebrate that he has such great friendships in his life that feed his soul and encourage him?
When he comes home stressed after a hard day at work and just wants to veg, is that really him being selfish, or is it an opportunity for you to show him love and compassion?
You don’t read many romance novels where the protagonist’s internal monologue is all what the man could have done better. And that’s because romance flourishes when you switch into an “other” orientation–your first thought is not about your own desires and wants, but how you can bless and serve the other. That’s love, and both partners having that mindset is the bedrock of an amazing marriage.
Bring some adventure back to your relationship!
Finally, if you have a hard time getting excited about your husband, perhaps the problem is that your life in general is kind of “blah” right now.
We’re in the world of shortcuts and constant passive entertainment. Neither lead to a very fulfilling life.
If you’ve gotten caught up in the “watching Netflix while we eat dinner” kind of routine, switch it up. Take that dance class you’ve always wanted. Start a hobby like knitting or sewing. Make a habit of doing one adventurous or fun thing a week with your husband.
By injecting something new into your routine, you throw your brain’s natural rhythm out of sync. As a result, everything can seem new and shiny again–that’s why so many people feel their relationships are rejuvenated when they go on vacations together. When the setting changes, you get to re-learn the other person.
A romantic, passionate marriage is not an impossible goal. There are stages of life, for sure, and some times you experience more “being in love” than others, but romance can be rekindled.
If you’ve struggled with fantasizing about men, actors, or even storybook characters and want to reclaim that part of your sexuality for your marriage, finding that romance and passion again will make fantasizing about your husband come naturally again.
What are some ways you keep the romance alive in your marriage? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!