How to Rekindle a Marriage That Is Stuck

How to rekindle a marriage

When couples ask me about how to rekindle a marriage or relationship, they are acknowledging that they are stuck in some way. A relationship rut has taken hold, leading one or both spouses/partners to feel bored or frustrated.

Long-term relationships and the challenges of domestic life have a way of blanketing us in ho-hum-ness, the sense that there should be more of something, more excitement, more passion, more emotional connection, more, more, more.

Couples who are stuck in this way haven’t fallen out of love. And they aren’t necessarily caught in cycles of negativity and ongoing relationship conflict. Heightened patterns of marital and relationship conflict are fed by emotional wounding and defensive stances that act as barriers to more fulfilling emotional intimacy. In today’s How to Spice Up Your Marriage blog post, we will be focusing on three ways to revive a relationship that needs some resuscitation (rather than a high-conflict relationship that may require more intensive intervention).

Relationship CPR: How to Rekindle a Marriage That Is Stuck

1. Effectively Communicating Your Needs

In my couples counseling practice I often ask couples what effective communication means to them. And surprisingly, many don’t have a clear answer. They know they don’t want to fight anymore; they know that the relationship is causing more stress and pain than fulfillment. But beyond that, there isn’t a clear sense of how communication can be a life-raft in rough relationship waters.

We all have emotional needs, needs that seek expression and fulfillment in our intimate relationships. When our needs go unfulfilled, frustrations mount. And when our frustrations drive our interactions with our partner, communication breakdowns are more likely.

Right out of the communication gate, you and your partner must be attuned to what your emotional needs are. Telling your partner that you don’t like it when s/he does certain things isn’t informing him/her about what you’re needing.

2. Discover Your Pathways to Emotional Connection

Emotional connection is considered the sine qua non of a healthy relationship by many experts.

This is a form of intimacy (emotional) that implies several things: Emotional safety exists in the relationship, a safety that allows you to share the deepest parts of yourselves; you and your partner have pushed beyond the emotional comfort-zones that can dampen emotional intimacy; and, despite the ups and downs that are typical for many relationships, re-engagement is prioritized so that long breaks in emotional connection do not occur.

We must each learn what makes us feel emotionally close to our partner and this process should always involve discovery of one another’s pathway to connection. For some, sex is a powerful emotional connector, feeding closeness beyond the sexual act. For others, it might be the unique routines developed over the history of the relationship (e.g., watching your favorite Netflix shows together, having a date night to try different restaurants, and so on).

It’s important to note that what feeds emotional connection for you may be very different for your spouse/partner. Don’t get caught in the trap of assuming his/her connectors are the same as yours (or in believing that it’s a sign that you shouldn’t be together if your connectors are different).

3. Seek Ways to Spice Up the Bedroom

Some couples in long-term relationships complain that their sex lives have flat-lined. The challenges of domesticity and the potential for boredom that familiarity breeds isn’t necessarily a sign that your relationship is in trouble. Rather, it’s a sign that you’ve been together for a while and that you and your partner may need to shake things up a bit.

Sexual intimacy is a powerful expression of love and it has the power to make couples feel emotionally closer. When it comes to sex, couples frequently complain about two things: One, they aren’t having enough sex (typically one person wants more sex and they end up not feeling desired because of their partner’s lack of sexual interest); two, the sex feels lifeless, a series of steps to follow that hopefully will result in orgasm.

I’ve created an extensive sex, passion and intimacy workbook for couples who have fallen into sexual ruts and are struggling to regain sexual intimacy. What I’d like to stress here is that any attempts to reconnect sexually or ramp up the passion in your sex life should occur against a backdrop of emotional safety. Without this bedrock, anxieties about trying something new can shut down sexual desire.

And, no matter what your age, it’s important to re-establish a relationship with your erotic-self. Yes, you have an erotic-self, that part of you that is driven by eros. Learning to nurture your erotic-self is an important part of spicing up the bedroom.


In reading this article you’ve taken an important step in learning how to rekindle a marriage. To rekindle is to revive and rebuild. It may involve recapturing what was lost or discovering something new together.

This is a process. And processes occur over time. Too often, couples try one or two things in an effort to rekindle love and then when they do not see immediate benefits, they give up. They failed to honor the process that change requires. First and foremost, don’t forget to be kind to yourself and kind to each other during this journey. Kindness is a gift that we should all prioritize, a state of mind that requires ongoing attention, especially when our relationship is limping along and in need of some care.

Here’s to spicing up your sex life!

Dr. Rich Nicastro

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