Keeping Passion Alive

There is a malaise which can creep into a relationship.  It’s called acedia.  I first read of it in Martin Seligman’s book, “What we can Change and What we Can’t”.

“The most mysterious and painful and costly sexual problem is "acedia," which means the waning of sexual attraction and passion between married couples as they age. Acedia is both a physical torpor and the torpor of the soul. It is a sexual indifference that comes from familiarity. Acedia is a sexual disorder since it meets the defining criterion of a disorder, namely, it grossly impairs sexual, affectionate relations between two people who used to have them!”

Have you ever looked at personality types and discovered how some people are ‘wired’ to be extroverts, administrators, carers, leaders or whatever their personality might be?  It can be a relief to see that people are being authentic, living their truth and by doing so, they are not trying to be annoying, they are not wrong nor do they need to be mended.  They are who they are, I am who I am and that’s okay.Like personality types, it seems acedia is part of life, it is what it is.  Our lifestyle and society can set us up to make vibrant relationships difficult when we are time poor, have much to cram into our lives, have many decisions to make and be accountable for.  Who has time to work at putting spark into their relationships when there is so much else to be done? It may be a few years or more before acedia is noticeable.  When there is little passion left in the hug, no lift off the floor and twirl around or Hollywood kiss, bent back, leg in the air.  “Hi Honey, I’m home!” is relegated to the part of the brain that hears but isn’t really listening, we’ve heard it a thousand times before.  There is a little death of the relationship.

This may be common among couples in long term relationships.  It is recognized as a sense of apathy and a loss of passion yet we seldom hear it talked about other than advertisements for low libido.  The spark of passion we once knew and for which we mourn turns to apathy and inertia.  This erosion or malaise is considered normal by many.  Life becomes a routine of going through the motions.  Expectations are reduced and the cycle is repeated on a daily, monthly, yearly cycle.  Sometimes we see our life stretched out before us – and although it is “good”, it lacks passion, it lacks the joy of life, it is like Groundhog Day, the same stuff, different day.

This deterioration can cause despair, thoughts of escape, memories of a life long ago.  The grass looks greener on the other side.  We look and see “opportunities” everywhere.  If you were with that person, or that one, your life would be thrilling.  Such is the panacea which leads away from the one you love.  To make the battle in the mind worse, we live in an age of instant gratification, easy fix, no fault and little shame. 

For those that may like the challenge of keeping that spark alive, I have some suggestions.

Go away from home for the weekend

You may have noticed that being on holiday can be good for you both.  Create mini-breaks, (an afternoon, a day, a weekend...) somewhere different, not necessarily expensive – the key is surprise.

Do something you love in your free time

We all have things that ‘feed our soul’ so to speak.  It may be reading, running, art, gardening, working on a particular project....  Go to where you have flow and your energy is renewed. Do this regularly to keep balance and prevent burnout.

Take a technology break

Leave the phone at home and go for a walk on the beach, out for coffee or for a drive together.  Wherever you are, be there, be present.

Have some inspiring goals

A relationship is about co-creating your lives so you need some shared goals.  Make them inspiring and exciting for both.


Too seldom do we celebrate events and achievements.  It’s time to change that.  To create a life less ordinary you must be extraordinary.

Nurture with extreme self care

This means getting enough sleep, hydration, health generating food and exercise.  It also means avoiding negative people who bring you down, doing things that make you laugh, finding the good in difficult situations, being grateful to the wonderful people all around you and to remember at the end of day, what made this day go well.

Make an effort

They say variety is the spice of life and it can enhance a relationship.  Yes, it does take effort but the rewards are worth it, your relationship is worth it, this is your time to live with passion.     

A change in pattern, like going on holiday to somewhere new, in fact anything that challenges our paradigms and thrusts us into newness, creates an opportunity to see our current reality with fresh eyes.  Passion can often flare up on holiday and the trick is to not let it be extinguished with the old familiar routine when we get back home.

You think, “this is my life, it’s running out and I’m only living at 10%, I want the other 90%.  I want to feel alive, I want to wake up excited about my life every day.  I want to share the joy of sunrise, sunset, the full moon.  I want to share a warm bed with a warm heart and a passionate body.  I want to blush, catch a glimpse of adoration, hear singing in the shower, to hear music and push back the furniture so we can dance, I want to feel alive with the person I love, my best friend, where we share all our secrets, including the ones about how I feel right now, and how this malaise scares me.

Love is too precious to not fight for. 

Share this post