How do we stop being roommates and get our spark back? | Marriage advice from Dr Kathy Nickerson"Basically, I feel like my husband and I are just roommates. How do we stop just going through the motions and get our spark back?" - Anna, CA.

Hi Anna. Thanks for reaching out....

I am sorry to hear that you’ve been feeling like the spark is gone and that the two of you are roommates. Let me reassure you...this is a really common feeling!

We lead very, very busy lives now. Work is intense, it doesn't stop when we leave the office, kids need a lot of our energy and we struggle to get a moment for ourselves, let alone make time for our relationship.

If we do this for long enough, we find ourselves growing apart quickly. Eventually, we worry that our relationship is in bad shape.

Maybe it's been a while since there was any real intimacy or sex in your marriage. You might be doubting if you'll ever feel in love with your spouse again....

I understand, and I have good news for you -  your relationship is not dead, it’s just frozen.

In order to strengthen your marriage and help you feel closer, we have to warm up your relationship.....

Typically, as our marriages become more and more strained, we start spending more time apart. We bury ourselves in TV, iPads, and Facebook and try to have minimal interaction with our spouse.

We stop spending time together, we stop sharing our feelings, and pretty soon, we find we’re just roommates, going through life, taking care of kids, and feeling very lonely.

To defrost your relationship, you must start spending more time together and stop leading separate lives.

You have to reverse course and start to plug back in to your spouse’s life. You can start in any way that makes sense to you; take a walk together, start a project together, watch a new TV show together.

Do anything that will make you feel like friends again.

Sometimes people come to my office and tell me that the problem with their marriage is that they don’t have sex anymore. Many go on to say that if they could just have sex, things would be back to normal.

I understand why people think this, but it really isn't true!

In my office, I'll ask ... “Ok, so why aren’t you having sex anymore?” One or both will say they don’t feel close and that it seems forced. I go on to ask, “Oh, so why do you think that is?”

They will tell me they’re not friends anymore, some will even say they’re pretty sure their spouse doesn’t even like them anymore. I’ll then talk with them more about why that is...

It always gets back to the same point: we don’t have sex with people we don’t like and feel close to.

So if we want to restore intimacy and sex to our relationships, we have to really work on boosting our friendship first.

Friendship comes from being kind, friendly, helpful and positive. I promise you, if you increase your friendship... love and sex WILL follow.

It's important to realize that our relationships follow a certain pattern....

First we like each other, then we become friends, then we fall in love, then we have affection, and then we have sex.

We cannot force it to go in the reverse direction.

We will not get more love and more friendship from having more sex.

The cure for a loveless or sexless marriage is to start at the beginning: be nice, be kind, then build your friendship, then work on increasing affection. 

Love and sex should follow naturally once you have a good friendship restored.