“He says it’s been too long since we’ve made love. He says it’s not healthy to go for so long like this. He’s totally right,” said Julie. “But I’m just not feeling the spark.”

She didn’t have to tell me she wasn’t feeling the spark. Her face very clearly showed that what she was feeling was…bored.

Lana’s husband told her that sex is a part of marriage. It’s the only thing they do together that they can’t do with anyone else, it’s the thing that makes a marriage different from all other relationships. Lana could not agree more, she said, pulling a yawn.

Now, we all know that sexual boredom is a hazard of a long-term relationship.

But there was something else about these women I was picking up on. It just took me some thinking to put my finger on it.

Julie’s and Lana’s husband’s are making perfectly reasonable points. Points I’ve made myself. They’re reasonable, but they’re not seductive.

That’s because they don’t communicate the message that women want to hear.

Which is:

You have uniquely attractive qualities and no one else can affect me the way you do.

In other words: you are special.
It’s so important to women to hear this message from their lovers that scientists even have a term for it: the psychological cue of adorability. That is the nerdy way of saying that feeling special is arousing to women.

It’s what makes them feel like their relationship has a spark.

At an unconscious level, it’s tied in with women’s need for safety and security. If she’s uniquely desirable to him, then her man will always be there for her.

If you’re a married man, you probably were better at communicating this earlier in your relationship. You may have fallen down on the job because of plain old laziness, the busy-ness of family life, all the usual pitfalls.

Also, you might not realize feeling special is so important to her because you don’t have the same need. Men think more in terms of being the best choice, not so much the unique choice.

Men are glad they beat out the competition, but it doesn’t bother them that there was competition.

They might even like the idea that they had some worthy opponents.

This helps to explain the puzzle of why women lose interest in sex when they gain weight. At least it’s a puzzle to a man. He thinks, If I’m just as attracted to you as ever, why the heck do you feel less attractive if you’ve gained 10 pounds? (And just by the way, getting impatient about this does not make her feel more attractive.)

When a man is attracted to a woman, all of his focus is on her. He’s not thinking about his own looks. He doesn’t have to be at his ideal weight to feel attracted to her.

As a man, you don’t need your wife to tell you, “I heard this song on the radio and it reminded me of you.”

I’m not saying you wouldn’t enjoy hearing her say that. Just that you don’t need that kind of thing to feel aroused.

So if you’re feeling like “the planets have to align before she’ll have sex,” consider the possibility that she just isn’t feeling very special in your eyes.

What kinds of things make a woman feel special?

-Showing sincere interest in her thoughts and opinions.

-Appreciating her skills in running the house. When a woman says, “I feel like the maid,” she’s saying she’s tired, yes. And she’s also saying anyone could do what I’m doing. Show you get that there’s more to it than that.

-Showing you think of her when you’re not with her. This is MAJOR as they used to say on Seinfeld. How to do this? Gifts. Tell her about things that will interest her. Send her the link to an article she’ll like. Let her know when you see something that reminds you of her. Call or text just to stay connected. Stay current with what’s on her mind, what she’s worried about, what she’s looking forward to.

-Telling her how much you rely on her and why.

-Treating her like a precious treasure after you do have sex.

But of course, the real superpower for making your partner feel special is knowing what exactly does it for her.

This should roll right off your tongue. Quick-what is it?

Warning: Please don’t try some of these things for a week and then say they don’t work. If this is new, or renewed, behavior, it will take time to sink in.

Even more importantly, don’t think these ideas will work if they’re insincere. If that’s the case, we need to be having an entirely different conversation.

But if it’s just a matter of bad habits that have snowballed over time, then there’s no reason why you can’t be creating way more sparks than you are right now.