Tip #5: Make LOVE, Not War!
Warning. This will be oversharing. As you know already, I’m a bit of an open book. So open, in fact, that when asked in a podcast interview “what have you done consistently for the past three years,” the first response from both Nathan and I was “make love”. Check out the whole 12 minute conversation here.
We have sex a lot. I’m not sure what the average is for most committed couples (at best the guess is about 1-2 times/week), but in 2010 we took our typical every other day and upped the ante to a 365 day challenge. Yes, sex 365 times that year. Notice I didn’t say days. Some days we were extra frisky and others we needed a little more sleep (reminder, at that point I had just had my second baby in October ’09). Maybe I should repeat that. We had sex a LOT…and had a brand new baby and a toddler in the house.
It’s almost six and a half years later. Of course the next question is “yes, but are you even close to that now?” My answer is a resounding “hell yeah!” We don’t put dots on the calendar anymore. We don’t fill up a quarters jar. We don’t record at all. We simply have this as much a part of our lives as showering and brushing our teeth. Not that it’s at all routine – think about the habits we add in that are so, so pivotal to our lives that we feel amiss when we don’t do it. Yoga, meditation, daily devotions, exercise, something that is for us that makes both of us feel incredible.
So, other than the fact that it feels good, why all the sex? We all know that most ladies are not quite as horny as the menfolk, and I’m no exception. I don’t believe in doing this because “wives should submit to their husbands”. But I do have sex even when I’m not in the mood. This is not just about succumbing to Nathan or forcing myself to give in. People, tell me one person who is always “in the mood” to exercise. Do you do it anyway? Why? Because you know it’s good for your health! At this point even Nathan could claim being oversexed for some of those first years (remember, I’m a high D and can be a bit competitive with my goals).
We do it because sometimes physical intimacy opens the door for emotional intimacy.
This is a loaded statement, I know. And…there are times when the talking needs to stop. When you are in a fight and you simply reach out and hold a hand, you can experience an instant diffuser. Physical touch, when done in pure openness and love, can bridge a connection even if you are at an impasse in the relationship. Sometimes, words are too much. Sometimes, you simply need to touch. Sometimes, instead of digesting and analyzing every emotion, you’ve got to stop the mind from everything that’s happened in the past…and you simply need to touch. Don’t talk. Touch.
You can’t build up hatred and frustration and make love to that person every night. You can’t build up a brick wall and not break that down when you are literally, physically naked in front of them. You can’t, day after day, act indifferent when you physically are at your most vulnerable every night.
Let me say one more thing about this – we all carry our own baggage into a relationship. Sex is a sensitive topic, and one that can carry a ton of weight. Add in any sexual trauma from the past, physical trauma (aka childbirth for many mamas), emotional trauma…and the last thing we want to do is offer up our bodies, especially if we feel emotionally distant. Sometimes, you get stuck in the ole’ chicken or the egg: he wants sex because he feels distant, she wants emotional connection because she feels distant. Who gives?
There is no easy answer here. Each couple has to take their own path. Each couple has to give. And the crazy thing is, when both of you are looking for what positive thing you can give to the relationship, it doesn’t become about who wins or who takes – the focus becomes on the changes we are in control of; how we can best reach out and love the other. When you choose to honor and love your partner in the way they need it, and you are both choosing to do that, it becomes about the deeper connection and you both become fulfilled.
You have to be intentional. You have to get out of your comfort zone. You have to ask yourself what is more important. There are always excuses, always circumstances that come up, always, always, something that is not perfect. If you only wait for the perfect tropical sunset, all children to be sweetly sleeping in their beds, and the house in immaculate condition, your sexy night may never happen. What do you need to make this a regular practice? What best gets you in the mood – a romantic movie, a massage, a bath? What can you prioritize in your daily, weekly routine so you make time for some intimacy in your relationship?
We don’t allow it to be routine. It has become a habit. Our nightly ritual; our sleeping pill. We look at things like yoga, meditation and exercise to keep us physically and emotionally fit – sex keeps our marriage fit. I say that…sex alone doesn’t do it – it’s sex combined with open communication, honesty, respect, humility, and (ha) teamwork.
Tip #6: Laugh, Laugh, and Laugh Some More
If all else is going to hell in a handbasket, and life hands you a ton of lemons, sometimes you just need to say “Fagedaboutit” and toss in some humor. Have a good laugh. Be silly. Be goofy. Flirt, tease, and tickle each other. Act like a kid and chase each other around. One night recently the kids were shocked to sneak out of their beds and find us out jumping on the trampoline, laughing and trying to see who could bounce higher. It was a stressful day and we just needed to be silly. They actually ended up jumping with us, and while we didn’t win any awards for consistent discipline that night, we created a really special family memory full of cuddling and giggling and genuinely loving on each other.
I have a tendency to take life way too seriously. If I could narrow down one key thing Nathan does for me on a regular basis, it’s that he makes me laugh. He reminds me that life can be fun – to take in the moment and just enjoy it. And if it gets to heavy, let go and simply laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine in so many situations.
So Nathan (aka PapaGray), here is to you and me making all of these non-negotiable in our marriage. Here is to you teaching me to laugh, to let go, to love and to allow myself to fully be loved, naked and vulnerable in all my glory. You connect to my soul, you challenge my thinking, you speak to my heart and you serve me selflessly. I am a better woman, mother and friend because of you.
I look at you, our high-energy life that is wonderfully ours, and I thank God we are on this ride together. It’s you and me, babe, and we make the decision every day to create the life – and marriage – that makes us closer, opens us up, and allows love to radiate out of our own walls into the lives of others.
I challenge each and every one of you to make these tips a priority in your own relationship. Add in your own tips in the comments, or share with me what’s holding you back. Live, learn, and above all, love.