When it comes to marriage, emotional and sexual intimacy are two sides of the same coin. In successful marriages, we see a pretty decent balance. We see a couple who is going through life as best friends, and who just happen to think the other is pretty damn hot.
Sex is a "use it or lose it" kind of thing. Yet because it tends to happen at the end of the day, after we've exhausted ourselves doing everything else we need to do, it can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of life. So if you feel that sex is slipping off the radar in your marriage, here are few ideas to bring it back.
Don't insinuate that your partner's body is something you're entitled to because you're married.
First, do some basic trouble-shooting. Why is it slipping? Is your spouse overworked, stressed or preoccupied with the kids? What has your spouse been complaining about or asking for help with lately? Think. Step up. Do what you can to get through life as a team and make sure you're going to bed at the same time. You know your spouse and lifestyle best. What can you do to remove the barriers that might be standing in the way? What can you do to ignite that spark of love and desire in your spouse?
Second, inject some playful affection into your daily interactions. Flirt. Check out your partner with your eyes and give them a warm embrace when they aren't expecting it. Forget that peck on the cheek when they leave for work -- give them a kiss to think about during the day.
Third, talk about it. Keep the conversation mature, respectful and heartfelt. Tell your wife or husband that you miss that kind of intimacy. Tell them you miss giving them pleasure and feeling connected in that way, and ask how you can work together to re-connect. Don't insinuate that your partner's body is something you're entitled to because you're married. Instead, treat it as something you desire, respect and love, and make sure your spouse hears that message loud and clear.
If those things don't work, get some outside help -- that's what we all do when we can't make headway on our own. Some people have more serious sexual problems in their marriage. Some have wildly different sex drives. Some have health matters to contend with. Some have deeper personal or relationship issues going on, or have for some reason lost the motivation to pleasure each other in that way. The list goes on.
But that's not always the case. Most of the time, spouses simply let it slip off the radar as other things -- kids, work, chores, whatever -- fill the skies. They may learn to live without it. They may suffer in silence or they may start to complain about it. They may (mistakenly) assume that their spouse hasn't noticed or doesn't really care. They may make excuses or blame their spouse. They may pout. They may strike up a "friendship" with someone else and take those first steps toward betrayal.
And as they do any or all of these unhelpful things, the divide between them will continue to expand. Their lack of sexual intimacy will chip away at their romantic friendship and their family life. It is likely that they will start to interact more like roommates and less like loving spouses. They may become more abrupt or apathetic. They may stop doing the "little things" to help each other through life and make each other happy.
Countless married couples have kept the fires burning over the years and you can, too.
After all, sex is a motivator. It's a good one, too. When we're enjoying a healthy, happy sex life with our spouse, we do feel more loving toward them. That's the nature of a romantic partnership. It's part emotional, part sexual. That's what distinguishes it from the other friendships we have in our life. In fact, the ability to have regular, meaningful and exclusive sex with someone we love is one reason people get married in the first place.
So consider this a friendly reminder. If it's been a while since you and your spouse have enjoyed each other in a sexual way, take the initiative. Countless married couples have kept the fires burning over the years and you can, too. Don't worry about the naysayers -- they have their own reasons for saying the spark can't last, and I guarantee those reasons have more to do with their reality than yours.
Yes, it may take work at times. But in the end, fanning those flames with your one-and-only beloved is the best shot you have at long-term happiness and stability in your personal life. And if you have kids, your happiness and stability as a couple is definitely a key to their happiness and stability in life. So let your kids see you flirt as you wash up the dishes after supper. Let them hear the 'click' of the lock on your bedroom door. They might roll their eyes and cringe, but inside, their sense of well-being is off the charts.
Most of all, treat your partner as your best friend -- the one that, luckily enough, you can't wait to jump into the sack with. Keep the love, solidarity and playfulness alive in your marriage by keeping sex on the radar.
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The wedding may be over and done with, but this doesn't mean the excitement shouldn't continue. Take turns devising a trip or planning a special occasion like an anniversary. "Remember, you don’t have to wait for a special event to have some excitement. Try taking a last-minute overnight road trip or simply try a new restaurant," says divorce attorney Bruce Provda.
Don’t believe you’ll be able to change a person or even get them to act more like you just because you’re married, Provda says. "Accept the fact that your spouse’s background and life choices have created them to be a different person from you even if your belief systems are in sync." Instead of trying to mould someone into your idea of the “perfect” person, remind yourself about his or her differences.
Your love for your spouse shouldn’t be a mystery, so make sure to get in some public displays of affection when you can. Hold hands if you're walking through the mall or exchange a casual kiss after dinner. "Showing affection affirms the connection between you and your partner," Provda says.
Avoiding conflict won’t help build the relationship, in fact it will just add stress, Provda says. "While you can’t be scared to express tension or face confrontation, never say anything intentionally mean or intended to hurt the other person."
Being aloof can imply a level of deceit. "If you believe you have to shield part of yourself from your partner in order to be appealing, you’re actually creating low-level tensions that only work to erode the bond and your attraction for each other," Provda says. And yes, it may sound cliché, but honesty is the best policy.
Make sure you share the important things, Provda says. "Marriage isn’t a 50-50 proposition. It is a 100-100 deal that brings a true depth of relationship through a depth of knowledge." If you're having a bad day, talk it out, and if something is bothering you about finances, the children or extended family members, make sure both of you can talk it out. "Doing so consistently will help build a connection that gets more complex and deeper as you go through life."
After the surge of romance and honeymoon phase wears off, it’s time to understand reality will set in. "It may be time to reassess where you, as a couple are, and what you are willing to do to make the marriage work. Then you have the choice to readjust the relationship or walk away." Staying in a unhappy and unhealthy marriage is never beneficial to either person, but giving up is just taking the easy way out.
Sure, it sounds old school, but marriage really is about understanding your partner’s needs, Provda says. "You have to be willing to offer what the other person in the relationship needs in order to get their needs fulfilled," he says — and this should work both ways!
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