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A New Year for 20/20 Vision in Your Relationship

December 31, 2019, the last day to another successful year for Phil and Joanne is coming to an end. On paper and in pictures, Phil and Joanne appear to be well accomplished and have exceeded many of their expectations as a couple. They're entering the 16th year of marriage and 19 years as a couple. Phil and Joanne, devoted Christians are custom to attending the Watch Night service to bring in the New Year with their Lord and Savior. Joanne is excited about this evening service because their Pastor has declared for 2020 as the year of clear vision.

Bringing in the New Year with God has been part of Joanne's family tradition since she can remember. From Phil's perspective, the Watch Night service was something he assimilated to support Joanne. He viewed it as a check in the box in quality time with Joanne. Phil is the son of a jazz musician who enjoyed the countdown and recalling the top 100 songs of the year. Phil and his dad saw the new year as a time to reflect on the talents that produced great music.

As years gone by Joanne could sense that Phil preferred doing something other than church on New Year’s Eve. For the past two years, Phil has had a logical explanation of why he was running late. In 2018, Phil's reason for running late was he wanted his boss to have a report complete for the upcoming meeting to read over the holiday. Last year Phil needed to take advantage of overtime at work to pay down a credit card. Joanne has succumbed to the fact feels that it is clear that Phil does not desire to spend New Year’s with her.

This year, Joanne decides to layout Phil's clothes for church. She then reminds him of the time she would like to leave to get a good seat at the service. Joanne has prepared her mind and is determined to be where the Lord wants her to be. Thinking to herself, 2020 will be clear and different. As Joanne begins to get ready, she noticed Phil had fallen asleep watching television. Joanne leaves the room and proceeds to leave without him. On her way out she voluntarily gives Phil a pass to skip New Years’ Church service to watch Dick Clark in Time Square. Thinking to himself “I can finally bring in the New Year just like the old days”.

Now that Phil has the house to himself and total control of the remote. He is ready to bring in the New Year. He begin reflecting on the memories created with his children, the world series championship, and court side seats to his favorite NBA team. Phil completed a certification resulted in a promotion to executive management. His son was selected to the college of his choice and a band scholarship. This was Phil's year! He begin to smile on the inside because no-one thought he would make it through the year. Thinking to himself he says, "I made it and I'm going to celebrate the way I so desire". Adding to this emotional high, the remote is still in the place he left it 30 minutes ago. Phil smiles and asks himself, "When was the last time that happened?" and "Who would have thought I would ride into 2020 on such an emotional high".

There are 10 minutes remaining in 2019 before the Apple drops in Time Square. Phil takes this moment to imagine the possibilities that lie ahead. He believes that 2020 has been declared to the year of clear vision. Phil sits down and compiles a short list of things cleared would take is life to greater heights. At the top of Phil's list was to discover and rekindle intimacy and romance with Joanne. In the earlier years church, passion and success overshadowed the relationship and provided an avenue to willingly suspend disbelief. Neither of them is engaged in an extra marital affair. The two are committed to the relationship and share deep adoration and respect for one another. Neither of them has been able to be vulnerable enough to express their authentic self.

Agreement on intimacy and romance has been a point of contention with Phil and Joanne for years. Phil's frustration stems from the restrictions or constraints Joanne places in the bedroom. Joanne argues that Phil is asking her to do things that are not in the will of God for her life. Although Phil quotes Hebrews 13:4 (...the marriage bed is undefiled....) and the entire book of Songs of Solomon, Joanne nor her mother are hearing it. Phil feels alone and is in a no-win situation; and Joanne desires more attention from Phil but tries to avoid the conversation. Neither of them has been willing to lay aside their "core" beliefs. It is because they feel the other person refuses to compromise. As they enter in 2020 it is clear that there is a problem.

Joanne and Phil have acknowledged the toll intimacy and romance is taking on their relationship. They are both "right" in believing they have tried everything to improve Unless one is willing to meet the other where their partner is Phil and Joanne will remain where 1 in 4 couples find their relationship - sexless.

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, over 60 percent of couples believe that a healthy sexual relationship is important to a successful marriage. The top three reasons for getting married were love (88%), making a lifelong commitment (81%), and companionship (71%). It can be safe to say that since love is number one on the list that neither partner anticipated their relationship would someday transition to a sexless marriage. Nevertheless, there are alternatives, strategies and tools available to redirect the course of your marriage.

The first thing couples who find themselves heading towards a sexless marriage is to agree that there is a problem. The earlier someone raises the issue in a way that does not appear confrontational or dismissive is optimal. Many of our clients have expressed the most aggravating thing is having your feelings ignored or minimized. Often times, the issues that brought the elephant to the room are deflected, ignored or sometimes justified. Regardless of how the elephant arrived, it remains the couple's responsibility to develop strategies to address the elephant.

Couples who find themselves in similar situations oftentimes lack the information or the skills necessary for such a task. Consequently, the marriage is strained to a point where divorce appears the only viable option. If you find your self in a similar situation like Joanne and Phil, TMI Counseling and Coaching is an evidence base resource for you. to help. Together, you and your spouse have a chance to rediscover the passion, reinforce the commitment and reignite the passion. These are some of the reasons you decided to build a legacy together.

The Marriage Institute is an evidence-based resource for developing health individual and family relationships worldwide. We invite couples to our exclusive Couples' Retreat as a place to develop sound strategies without the distractions of life. Visit our website at for more information or reserve your spot today!

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