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Published October 25, 2012, 11:35 PM

Healthy Body, Hot Life: Could ‘kissing diet’ rekindle some passion?

“I’ve been married for a decade and each year my husband becomes less and less affectionate. I don’t remember the last time he kissed me.”

By: Chris Linnares, INFORUM

“I’ve been married for a decade and each year my husband becomes less and less affectionate. I don’t remember the last time he kissed me.”

With teary eyes, those are the sad words Anna told a women’s group I was leading few years ago.

Besides being a psychotherapist, I am a self-proclaimed romantic woman, so a part of me wanted to scream: “What?! How can’t a man have kissed his own wife for so long?!” But instead, I tried to remind myself that every story has two sides, and I was there just to be a facilitator, a white canvas where she could feel safe to paint her feelings, dreams and desires.

In my attempt at trying to be the best therapist I could be, I put my feelings aside and calmly asked: “How many times did you express to him your desire to be kissed and he rejected you?”

With a whispering shy voice Anna answered: “Never, I never asked him”.

Part of this group process is to give to every woman a weekly challenge. In her case, the challenge was simple and clear: “I dare you this week to ask for your husband to give you a passionate kiss.”

Anna is not the first woman to complain of lack of affection in her relationship – such as a simple kiss. In 2011, the British Heart Foundation published the results of a survey that showed that married couples kiss less than once a week.

“Nearly one in five married couples go without kissing for as long as one week at a time. And when they do finally lock lips, it will last no longer than five seconds for 40 percent of them,” the study said.

I am not immune to a “kissless” relationship. With a first-grader who dances to “Call Me Maybe” on the highest volume; a senior in high school desperately begging for silence so she can study for the ACT; and a never-ending to-do list myself, sometimes I feel so tired that the most passionate affection I have with my husband is when our hands touch as I hand him the salt at dinner table.

But, I believe that every woman should be immune to SFL – “Settling for Less Syndrome” – so when we feel that our relationship is lacking in passion, we shouldn’t get used to it; we should try to do something about it.

Couples therapist Esther Perel, the author of the book “Mating in Captivity,” said that one of our mistakes is that we try to turn our partner into someone who won’t surprise us. At the same time, it can make us feel secure knowing we won’t be caught by surprise, but this can lead us to boredom, one of the barriers of a passionate marriage. Instead, she suggested to “break out of your comfort zone and try something new, or a little daring – then see what your partner does in response.”

The week of her challenge, Anna was brave enough to get out of her comfort zone and dare to do something new. In response, she received not just one, but many passionate kisses from a man who thought she no longer desired his affection.

A long-term relationship can be challenging because we need to learn to desire what we already have.

A kiss can help to increase our desire, feel more connected with our partner and even can give us some health benefits.

Research shows that a long kiss may actually improve our health by boosting immunity, increasing the levels of oxytocin – the body’s feel-good chemical – and even burn calories. What about a Kissing Diet on Monday?

I don’t know where you are in your relationship, but if you are in an affectionless period, I hope you don’t allow yourself and your partner to settle for less. We always have the option to surprise each other by daring ourselves to try something new. Sometimes we can be only a week away from a more passionate relationship. Are you up to the challenge?

Chris Linnares is an international author, Brazilian psychotherapist and creator of Diva Dance. She is the founder of Naturally Diva and Diva Connection Foundation for women’s health and empowerment. Contact her at chris@naturallydiva.com.