5 Resolutions for an Erotic Marriage
Commit to habits that create meaningful sex as a couple.
Posted Jan 01, 2017
The number one resolution for New Years is to “get fit.” We understand that a healthy body is crucial to supporting all other endeavors in our lives. So too, the body life in our marriages - our sex life - undergirds our connection, our very purpose for calling the relationship marriage rather than friendship. But it’s not just sex alone that we want in marriage but rather eroticism – sex imbued with meaning, romance and desire.
Often one spouse is the emotional pursuer but sexual distancer, and complains that they need more time together with intimate feelings being shared in order to feel sexual. The other spouse, the sexual pursuer but emotional distancer, hears this complaint and feels frantic because deep down inside they know sex unlocks their wellspring of emotions and without it they can’t open up.
A dear couple I am working with has come almost to the brink of divorce over this painful dilemma.They are loving, smart and good people but my heart is worried and heavy over their crazy idea of separating.They are pointing their fingers at each other instead of realizing that each must grow and develop as individuals. Divorce would only mean starting the power struggle over again because the true problem isn’t solved. I believe any other likely partner is going to want someone who is sexual and someone who is vulnerable.
In Janine and Matt’s case, she must have as individual, separate commitment to eroticism that is apart from whether he gives her what she needs. And he must have an inner commitment to share his internal world no matter how scary and frightening it feels even during lean sexual seasons. Without these individual resolutions, neither can hope to have happiness by changing partners. Marriage calls us to change in ways that will make us stronger as individuals and let alone will make us happier as a couple.
Tired of the tedium, this couple boiled down the fight to “I need sex,” and “I need more talking.” Now it’s getting ugly with each accusing the other of only wanting the condensed, purported need. “All you want is sex!” “You only want to talk with no action.”
The argument is really about proportion. Each spouse wants and desperately needs their emotional life entwined with their body life. Here are five resolutions toward an erotic life.
Build desire – Author of The Erotic Mind, Jack Morin said, that attraction plus obstacles equals sexual excitement. The problem in marriage is that sex is taken for granted. There is always another night for it. We think our partner is always available imagining that they are feeling sexual just when we are. But, we have to acknowledge our separate moods, concerns and appetites as inherent obstacles and take it as a challenge just the way we did when we were dating.
Imagine sexy - In the throes of a new romance, we imagine our lover as flawless, kind, and lovely, never broken, critical, or hurtful and our sexual desire roars like a raging fire. We overlook red flags and overt transgressions in order to find “the one.” In a committed relationship, we can stoke desire the same way by focusing on the things we do like about our partner stowing each positive observation away in a cache like kindling. Try to catch your partner in kindness, in a sexy look, in doing something that you’ve asked for.
Use your body to express your love – If you were blind, deaf and mute, how would you show your partner your love. Do you touch in the hallway, hug with joy at having them near you, stroke them for reassurance that you are not alone in the world? Practice absolute silence one time in the bedroom to force touch and gaze to be your only transmitter and receptor of everything you want to communicate to each other. As humans we are body, mind and spirit. Commit to love physically with touch, affection and sex.
Frame sex as sacred – All religious and mindful traditions set aside a sacred time for worship or reflection – weekly or daily. We partake in rituals requiring physical movements like kneeling, standing, sitting still, exchanging rings, breaking glass, eating, etc. Find a sacred time that you devote to physical love every week and be devout.
Keep a secret surprise. Our brains release sexual inducing hormones when we try a new activity. Knowing you have something delightful to share with your partner will light desire inside. Seduction is in the surprise. My sexually-distancing patient, Janine said she couldn’t think of anything that would be a surprise to her husband and nothing she found sexy herself. Her work included exploring her childhood history that informed her adult sexuality. As she did she realized all the prohibitions that she had heard from her parents as well as those she had taken on as a young adult. Until therapy, she had never allowed herself to imagine what was sexy to her. Discovery of our inner sexual self is an on-going practice to breathe life into monogamy.
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