When they married 18 months ago, Kim would've never dreamed that her husband, Steve, wouldn't show her enough affection.
"He used to be so attentive that he'd notice if I changed my hair or bought a new dress," she told us. But Steve's loving words and compliments were coming less often, and Kim felt ignored. Steve was feeling confused. He couldn't figure out why Kim had lost interest in sex.
Kim and Steve aren't alone. The frequent expressions of affection and approval that couples give each other during courtship and the honeymoon stage can dwindle in the first years of marriage. You may still love each other just as much, but you talk about it less. The early emotional intimacy that was so exciting peaks, then "I love you" dwindles and the romance tapers off. You fear that things have gone terribly wrong. But have they?
Contrary to the fairy tales we were weaned on, romance always fades. We just aren't built to maintain the high levels of feverish passion and romance experienced during the days of engagement and the honeymoon. And yet that's what most couples, like Kim and Steve, expect.
Consider the most popular story of doomed love—Romeo and Juliet. Their overpowering love was snuffed out in the heat of passion. But can you imagine Romeo and Juliet as a married couple—rushing to leave for work, worrying over unpaid bills, pushing a cart through a crowded grocery store? Would their passion have survived the mundane tasks of daily life? The truth is that the romancing and wooing that led up to your marriage are not what will sustain it in real life.1