One of the greatest challenges facing a couple in a committed relationship is how to keep passion and romance alive. Kids, jobs, the house and the various pressures of life tend to wear down a marriage. The result is a conflict situation like the one confronting Steve (44) and Elizabeth (41).
Steve: Elizabeth, let's go to bed.
Elizabeth: Sorry. I'm not really in the mood.
Steve: I should have expected that. Do you know how many times you've told me you're not in the mood? You know, Elizabeth, it seems that almost every time I say, "Let's make love," you're not in the mood.
Elizabeth: I'm sorry but that's the way I feel.
Steve: Well, guess what? We have a problem! And it's called: you're never in the mood!
Elizabeth: Maybe, if you weren't so pushy I'd feel differently. Like now, when you talk to me aggressively, it doesn't put me more in the mood. It's a real turn off.
Steve: If I say, "Let's go to bed," that's aggressive?
Elizabeth: No, but now, when you attack me, I feel --
Steve: Because I'm mad, I'm upset.
Elizabeth: The way to get me in the mood is by being quiet, not by shouting...
Steve: I tried that before, but that isn't the point here. The problem is that you said you're just tired, that you're not in the mood. I didn't come across to you in a heavy way; I came to you in a loving way. Tell me, Elizabeth, why is it that you never want sex? Do I turn you off?
Steve: Don't you realize that it's kind of dead with us right now? (Pause) Is this the way you want it to be?
Elizabeth: No, but we have to talk about it, we're not going to figure out what the problem is by your coming on so strong and --
Steve: Okay, fine. Let's talk about it. Just tell me, what's the problem?
Elizabeth: I want you to talk to me first --
Steve: I'm talking. I'm talking now.
Elizabeth: That's not what I mean. When you approach me, everything is so, it's not, it's not...I don't feel there's any closeness. You just want to jump into bed and be physical, and I can't do that. You've got to be there for me, I want to feel romantic with you. You can't expect me to just heat up like that. For me it's an emotional thing. For you it's just a physical thing.
Steve: What do you mean "emotional" thing? Do you want me to cry? What is it you want me to do?
Elizabeth: See? That's the problem. You don't understand what it means to satisfy a woman emotionally.
Steve: What are you talking about? Sex is physical. I get turned on to you.
Elizabeth: I'm glad you're turned on to me, but it's not just a physical thing, it includes feelings. With you, it's not something that has depth and sensitivity.
Steve: You know, when we first met... do you remember the first night? We didn't have depth, we didn't have sensitivity, but we had a lot of sex.
Elizabeth: Yes, we had sex but we also had love and romance and we made time for each other. You were different then, you were young and romantic, you took me for long walks and you put on soft music, and now I feel like it's one more thing that you do -- you go to work, you come home, you brush your teeth, go to bed and have sex. What happened to all the romance that we had when we were younger?
Steve: What happened to all the physical stuff? Do you remember what you were like when we were younger? You couldn't keep your hands off of me. You had passion. You had desire.
Elizabeth: Yes, but...
Steve: Now you're tired all the time; you're not turned on... You've lost your desire...
Elizabeth: Steven, I didn't lose my desire, you just don't know how to turn me on anymore. Sex has no special meaning for you. You don't lead up to it, you don't do it slowly, you hold all of your emotion inside, you just don't give any of yourself to me --
Steve: The point is that you're changing and you're not the woman I married.
Elizabeth: You're not the man I married...
Steve: I don't think I've changed. I think we have different memories...
Elizabeth: Okay, so maybe I have changed, so deal with that, so maybe what I need is different than what I needed ten years ago. What I need now is something different....