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Has the passion and desire fizzled out of your relationship?

At The Reconnection Institute, we understand the pain of emotional disconnect and the longing for renewed intimacy in your relationship.

Our approach is rooted in research and personally tailored to help you rediscover passion and connection. As experts in the field, we are dedicated to helping couples like you rekindle the desire and love that once defined your relationship. By combining our deep understanding of relationship dynamics with evidence-based strategies, we guide you on a journey to rebuild and strengthen your bond.

A personal message from Michael Myerscough

Founder of The Reconnection Institute

As the founder of The Reconnection Institute, I am committed to sharing the most invaluable insights from experts around the world. The biggest contribution to our understanding of desire in long-term relationships comes from a survey performed by Chrissy Northrup, Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., and James Witte Ph.D., which resulted in the book ‘The Normal Bar.’ This body of data is so credible, amazing and important that even Drs. John and Julie Gottman, the royal couple of relationship research, regularly cite it.

The biggest surveys before this one were tiny in comparison. You may have heard of Masters and Johnson who changed the global erotic landscape whilst only researching 510 couples. Back in the 1970s, Shere Hite had no option but to base her famous Hite Report on Female Sexuality on only 4,000 women. Thanks to today’s online technology, Northrup, Schwartz, and Witte had the unprecedented ability to conduct a massive global survey that was unlike anything else. By the time they began analysing the extensive, ground-breaking data from more than 70,000 individuals around the world and 1.7 million data points, the results were significant. These research findings are inarguable and published in a book called The Normal Bar which made for a major breakthrough in our understanding of intimacy and desire in long-term relationships. This means that anyone paying attention is no longer relying solely on personal experiences or ‘intuition’ when it comes to educating couples about rekindling their intimacy.

The Normal Bar states that whilst early romantic moments are essential for love to get off the ground and start to blossom, they also need to be nurtured and tended to throughout the duration of the relationship. If this does not happen, those initial expectations of romance may become skewed over time, ultimately and understandably leading to hurt and dissatisfaction. Prioritising romantic time together is absolutely key to maintaining sexual interest and keeping that spark alive. When this is lacking, it can lead to what they call ‘romantic deprivation.’ When people were surveyed about their most romantic memories, it was generally those small and unexpected gestures that were talked about, rather than any extravagant gifts or grand declarations of love. Women in particular were quick to recall fiery kisses and love notes left in surprising places. It sounds simple, right?

Their data found that romance and desire are interconnected in a powerful cycle, yet many people long for more of this in their relationships. Data has proven that romance can easily flourish and grow when individuals yearn for their partner’s love or desire, or when they feel loved and want to show appreciation in an expressive way. However, as simple as this sounds, this cycle can easily be tested or broken when loving gestures are not appreciated or reciprocated, naturally leading to a deterioration in these motions as time goes on. At this point, couples may be quick to assume that sex therapy is the answer when, in reality, what they truly need is a deeper understanding and reboot of their romantic connection with their partner.

John Gottman said; ‘In short, they turn toward one another with love and affection to connect emotionally and physically. In the Normal Bar study, only 6% of non-cuddlers had a good sex life. What is very clear from the Normal Bar study is that having a great sex life is not rocket science. It is not difficult.'

‘Inspired by the Normal Bar study of over 70,000 people, as well as by my own research studies on more than 3,000 couples over four decades, I’ve identified 13 things all couples do who have an amazing sex life.

  • They say “I love you” every day and mean it
  • They kiss one another passionately for no reason
  • They give surprise romantic gifts
  • They know what turns their partners on and off erotically
  • They are physically affectionate, even in public
  • They keep playing and having fun together
  • They cuddle
  • They make sex a priority, not the last item of a long to-do list
  • They stay good friends
  • They can talk comfortably about their sex life
  • They have weekly dates
  • They take romantic vacations
  • They are mindful about turning toward each other

Perhaps you are both hard working individuals and the precious time that was once allotted to your relationship is now dedicated to working or raising children, or perhaps life is just getting in the way with its many responsibilities.

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Bad sex has a recipe too.

In case you were wondering, we also have the recipe for a poor sex life, too. The Sloan Centre at UCLA studied 30 dual-career heterosexual couples in Los Angeles and discovered that most of these young couples:

  • Spend very little time together during a typical week.
  • Become job-centred (him) and child-centred (her).
  • Talk mostly about their huge to-do lists.
  • Seem to make everything else a priority other than their relationship.Drift apart and lead parallel lives.
  • Are unintentional about turning toward one another.

What happened?

Maybe something unexpected or drastic happened, such as the loss of a loved one, termination from your job or caring for an aging parent, and the stress is negatively impacting your relationship. Or, maybe something good happened, like a new baby, job or something else that has sparked some joy, but you’re still overwhelmed and struggling to settle into a new routine whilst you care for your romantic connection. A very common dynamic that potentially dooms your desire is when one partner becomes very job-centred and the other becomes very child-centred. This results in a couple drifting apart and leading parallel lives, albeit both having very good intentions.

Maybe you’re still having sex, but it’s dull. Dull sex is better than no sex, well, for some of us, but yet you still can’t help wondering what’s missing.

Remember those intense feelings of love, lust, and desire that you shared at the beginning of your relationship? Wouldn’t it just be magical to re-ignite that spark? Would you like to create new magic moments together that you can look back on in years to come? If so, hopefully you are now considering reaching out for some sex therapy.

You Are Not Alone

An article in Newsweek reported that 15-20 percent of couples have sex around 10 times a year. Officially, a “sexless marriage” is defined as intimacy once or less than every six weeks. That’s very close to no intimacy at all. Whilst this is a sad and shocking statistic, you are far from alone if you resonate with these findings.

The findings I quoted above from ‘The Normal Bar’ aren’t really news. In my training with Michele Weiner Davis who is a world-renowned divorce buster, it was made very clear that such infrequent sex does indeed cause lasting damage to most marriages. Sex is a very powerful bonding force. After all, being intimate is what separates your relationship from being “friends.”

Sexless relationships can lead to affairs and/or other forms of infidelity. In truth it’s more like sexless marriages practically guarantee an infidelity. One of the most significant understandings that I reference is that all bad behaviour is a protest about an unmet need. When your needs are not being met in the relationship, it’s very common for one or both parties to seek satisfaction elsewhere. Yes, infidelity is an act of betrayal, but it’s also an expression of longing and loss. At the heart of an affair, you will often find a longing and a yearning for an emotional connection that is sadly absent. The Gottman’s refer to this as the glacial slide to infidelity or marital dissolution, and it is often a clearly observable progression in committed relationships.

No Need for Sex-Therapy

Not all sexual problems stem from relationship problems. Research has proven that a couple can love each other deeply and still lose the erotic spark they once had. Sex therapist David Schnarch writes in his book called Intimacy and Desire that, “People have sex within the limits of their sexual development.” In other words, we stick to having sex in familiar ways. Trying new things can be uncomfortable, but without this novelty, you will likely feel stuck in patterns that have grown tired. A colleague of mine talks about ‘Meatloaf sex’ where people become complacent and do not stray from what is comfortable and easy. I think the meatloaf reference is about using whatever is readily at hand, or maybe it’s just a reference to the ‘I’d Do Anything for Love, (But I Won’t Do That)!’ hit by Meatloaf. Either way, you get the general idea. If things make us uncomfortable, they eventually get kicked off the menu.

There’s a rumour floating around that you can’t sustain an erotic marriage in the long term, but that is simply and completely untrue. What if I told you that marriage counselling, rather than sex-therapy, could help you to relight the fire in your sex life?

Success Stories

Michael knows exactly how to get a couple out of trouble and is fearless.
Before working with Michael I was very sceptical about therapy for couples and did not believe that any outsider could fully understand me, my partner or our situation well enough to be of help. At best, I expected clichés and a quick fix that would wear out after a short time. Michael is different and not at all what I had imagined in my cynical mind.

He knows exactly how to get a couple out of trouble and is fearless, original and talented in his approach. Michael has provided permanent solutions that have eliminated the stony silences and my dark moods of the past. My home is once again a place of light , laughter and love – a sanctuary that I genuinely return to with excitement and anticipation. I can never thank Michael enough – he has saved me from myself and saved my relationship with my best friend and lover.

Chris*

*Names have of course been changed.

Relationship Counselling Can Help You Have Better Sex More Often

Couples counselling that emphasises intimacy and desire can help you to take charge and reignite the spark in your relationship that you might be missing. Hopefully there was a period of time when you both wanted to spend as much time as possible gazing into each other’s eyes and fooling around but, over time, the demands of life, careers, finances or raising children turns you into a family unit in which priorities are very different. In this stage, the two of you must stand shoulder to shoulder dealing with life’s challenges and, in reality, it’s often just not that sexy. It’s a positive approach to life together but a bit of a passion killer. There is nothing less sexy than feeling obligated to have sex when you’re exhausted. You can plan for Freaky Fridays or Wicked Wednesdays all you like, but we all know that it is just not that simple.

Terrence Real, author of The New Rules of Marriage says, “I believe in fierce intimacy. Which means that people are radically honest with each other. I think the first casualty when people don’t tell the truth to each other is passion. Unresolved issues fester. Resentment turns into a lack of generosity and less willingness to surrender.” Here, I can help you both to open up about your desire and truthfully and finally advocate for what you both want. When you’re able to be radically honest with your partner, an amazing shift can occur—you actually have a shot at gaining everything you want.

As erotic animals, we seek novelty. What this means is that we have to see our partners with new eyes, and that’s much easier than you might imagine. If you can learn how to do that, you’d be amazed at just how much energy you can find for each other again.

Key questions answered

I’m so lonely and considering an affair.

Don’t do that. Although an affair can cause you to see your partner through new eyes, it’s not a solution. Affairs are terribly painful and destructive. It’s a very high-risk strategy that could be compared to seeking out a near-death experience when you just need to feel some adrenaline. Recovering after an instance of infidelity takes a lot of time and energy. If you are having these thoughts, it is much better to be proactive and seek some help with your relationship before you’ve dropped a bomb into it.

“Honey, I’m thinking about having an affair,” you say.
“What the hell! Who with?” your partner asks.
“Well, I was really hoping you would be available but if you’re not I guess I will have to look elsewhere.”

What if there was a better way of connecting to your partner that didn’t involve deceit and betrayal? With the right guidance, it’s possible to uncover things about your partner that you probably had no idea about. You don’t need to have an affair to bring back the love and passion with your partner that you are missing. Instead, I can teach you how to reawaken your desire for one another.

Does sex occur in your therapy?

No, that would be weird! Don’t worry, everyone’s clothes are staying on. In fact, there are no embarrassing exercises at all and we will simply be participating in well targeted talk therapy. I will send you home with engaging exercises to practice together in the comfort of your own home. These exercises will be specific to your situation and pitched at a time that is right for both of you.

I don’t have the time or energy for sex therapy.

Responsibility and desire tend to work in opposition. If desire and erotic experiences are important to both of you, I can help you to prioritise each other and your sex life. In doing so, I can allow you to have it all—a satisfying life with fierce intimacy. As I said earlier, the couples having passionate and pleasurable sex all set a particular tone in their relationship for that to happen. It’s not accidental and can be taught.

Seriously, you don’t think he/she should just leave me?

If you are the injured partner, I suggest you skip over this section. It’s potentially not going to be palatable given the level of pain you’re dealing with right now.

Okay betraying partner. This section is for you. You have potentially destroyed your marriage or maybe just consigned yourself to years of misery. Above I outlined the different types of infidelities. Each of them serves a bigger purpose. Whilst I would never recommend an affair as a way of jump-starting a failing marriage, it can be helpful. You know how someone might receive an earth-shattering cancer diagnosis and they turn their whole life around? Well, this is a bit like that. No one in their right mind would want cancer, we know that. It’s a stupidly high-risk strategy for changing a life, yet here we are together trying to figure out how to get over your betrayal.

Let me draw you a picture. Let’s pretend your partner was always critical, jealous and untrusting of you or perhaps never really gave you enough space. Well, you having an affair has just confirmed and justified all that controlling behaviour. If all you do is get through the trauma phase by begging for and gaining forgiveness, you will be living in an amplified version of what you fought against for so many years. If the two of you don’t eventually move to a place where a whole new conversation can take place, you’re just creating a new version of misery. Yes, two thirds of couples will work through an infidelity without any help at all, but you will be punished, potentially for the rest of your life.

Your initial role in healing this betrayal and engaging in affair recovery is about regaining the trust of your partner. This stage is absolutely essential. Your partner will in no way be interested in your feelings just yet (and probably not for a while) and that is healthy and normal. Your job for now is to work on cleaning up whatever part of your behaviour that you managed to justify as acceptable. I am no way interested in getting your partner to forgive you at this stage. Just so all parties are clear, the infidelity wasn’t okay, isn’t okay and never will be okay.

The one thing every injured partner is looking for is a sense of actual change in you and your behaviour. If you do the work properly, your whole approach to life and your relationship should radically shift for the better. This change in you will be obvious to your partner and that’s when the affair recovery begins. You can make all the promises you like but unless your partner sees some actual shifts in your behaviour and your relationship, they will be stuck in the thoughts like; ‘the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour’ or ‘once a cheater always a cheater.’ I know that seeking help for affair recovery might feel very alarming for you in terms of the shame and public exposure but bizarrely, you, in particular, have so much to gain from getting this right.

Hurt partner, I did say look away but, if you are reading this, know that good people do bad things for complicated reasons. It is way too simplistic and demeaning to both of you to decide that the person who you chose to commit to is suddenly “bad” or even dangerous. Try not to listen to those people who will shame you and tell you to ‘just leave.’ The stats show that roughly 35% of all couples will experience an infidelity. We can’t all be stupid, bad or evil.

You Can Enjoy an Amazing Sex Life.

The good news is that it’s completely possible to have amazing sex with your number one. Working together, I can teach you what took me years to learn from the experts in the field. Don’t give up on your need for desire and passion. If you are thinking about having an affair as a solution, please know there is no judgement, and let me teach you how to re-frame your partner to be the target of that affair. Couples counselling can help you both to advocate confidently for your needs, discover your unique erotic landscape and enjoy a long-lasting and satisfying sex life together.

If you’d like to know more about the couples counselling I offer, please take a look at our counselling services or my FAQ page for more information. My practice is based in St Ives on Sydney’s North Shore.

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