A Four Letter Word – To Refresh Your Marriage (Surprise)


“I don’t know what the problem is, Doc. We have a strong marriage,

we love each other, but something’s missing. It’s like we’ve gotten in a rut, gone stale. Maybe we need to refresh things a bit.”


I heard this from Bob and Carol, who have been married 6 years, from

Gene and Martha, who have been married 33 years, from Larry and Rita, who have been married 14 years. I hear this sentiment from many couples of all ages – those with small children and grown ones, in their first and subsequent marriages.


They all have a strong commitment to each other, but everyday life keeps them apart — child care, work, long commutes, aging parents, working out at the gym.  Television and the computer become the balm after a stressful day. They no longer have energy for the things that used to add excitement to their lives.


I frequently hear, “I come home after work, and I really want us to take that dance class, something to bring us together. But we look at each other and say we’re too tired. Maybe next week.”


Even when couples want to refresh their relationship, they just can’t find the time or energy.


The good news is there are many couples who have a strong marriage today. The bad news, though, is that even with a solid marriage, with their multiple roles, they forget their role as lovers. Husbands and wives get lost in the demands of Mother, Father, Caretaker, employee, employer. Conversations pivot around daily routines, or worrying about money, negotiating who can reschedule their day to let in the plumber.


As a couple, they move ahead with their everyday lives. As lovers, they are left behind.


How do you rediscover the lovers in your marriage? Sexy underwear? Candle light dinner? Sex and romance are only part of being lovers. You need something more lasting than a candle flame. You need a four letter word, one that ends in “k.”   No, it does not start with “F.”


You need … TALK.


You need to renew the connection that initially attracted you. Back then, you enjoyed talking together, you had fun. You need to recapture the pleasure you had in talking together before you had children, money problems, leaky faucets.


When you were “courting,” you found lots to talk about. How do you get that back? Set time to talk with your spouse — go out to dinner, go for a walk. but – and this is the significant part — with the “Taboo Rules.”  Your Taboo Rules should include topics you will not mention:   children, money, work problems, marital problems, in-laws, or any other topic that causes tension.


“So what would we talk about?” you chuckle.


You figured it out before your marriage; trust yourself to figure it out again. It is difficult, though. Many couples say, “This sounds like fun,” but then discover they keep slipping into the taboo topics.


After weeks of failing at this assignment, Juan and Carolata started playing with words. Juan explains, “We were sitting silently at a restaurant waiting for our main course. Carolata suddenly said, ‘Hopscotch.’ You can imagine my surprise. She asked how many words we could make with those same letters. That got us started. We do other things now. Our latest is finding unusual adjectives to describe the food we’re eating. I don’t think we have ever laughed so much.”


Gene and Martha decided to spend 20 minutes every night talking about something from the news. “We started out with politics,” Martha explains, “but since we always agree, it got boring. So, now we search for unusual stories; they always spur an interesting discussion. We both look forward to this quiet time together.”


Out of frustration from always slipping into their forbidden topics, Larry and Renata decided to add something new to their lives; they signed up for a photography class. “Now we have so much to talk about and are eager squeeze in time over weekends to go shoot,” says Larry.


Renata adds, “We sometimes take the children with us, but often we go out by ourselves. We get to shop together for equipment; we’re planning our own darkroom. It’s been a real boost.”


Larry mischievously grins, “In and out of the bedroom.”


Once you become fluent in talking as Husband and Wife, sexy underwear and candlelight dinners will have a more lasting effect.


Enjoyable conversations are a must; they will enhance whatever else you do to refresh your marriage.


If you have questions or comments or want more information, contact me at:

Dr. Karen Gail Lewis

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