By Guest Blogger Laurie Gerber
Happy Valentine’s Day, Lovebirds! I’ve been with my husband for 20 years and so far neither of us has cheated. We have something really great, but if you read my blog, you’d know it wasn’t always so good. We had our troubles and issues in our marriage, same as all couples. I will tell you that it is what we chose to do about our issues, that has kept our love thriving and our marriage hot. Prepare to change your thinking!
People get frustrated with keeping love alive, partly because they’ve been conditioned by movies and common culture to believe that with the “right” person, all the romance and spark will appear “naturally.” I teach a different story. Love and romance usually come easily when we’re young or when the relationship is young. After that, it takes work. Don’t view that as an injustice or a burden, but rather an opportunity to grow up and take charge of your life.
First, accept that it is your job to keep love and intimacy alive (for your happiness and to prevent cheating), and that it’s a privilege and a fun game to do so. Then, use my tips below to figure out what’s missing and how to build your relationship. Hint! It’s mainly about regular, open communication and connection. But I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so read on!
1. Give your spouse the power to please you sexually and otherwise.
It’s really important that your partner pleases you and knows that he does. Many people withhold pleasure on purpose, as a way to control their partner, or get back at their partner. We learned this at a young age when we’d throw a tantrum to try and get candy or attention from our parents. Withholding your happiness until you get what you want will only get you a messy, teary power struggle where name-calling and blaming will occur.
For years, I used this tactic on my husband. Not just sexually, but everywhere. He couldn’t drive right, do chores right, have conversations right, or “loosen me up” in bed. How convenient that my satisfaction was all HIS problem and failure. Once I grew up about this, I made my happiness and pleasure MY challenge to solve, and then life got much better for both of us. I now know it’s my job to like what my husband does, or find a great and graceful way to tweak it.
You get more bees with honey. This goes for your marriage too.
2. Make regular time together and treat it as sacred.
Every night, during regular face time with my husband, we have a ritual of asking questions that are designed to cause intimacy. We share things like: what we’re proud of in our marriage, successes, connections with others, when we played the victim, what we love about the other, what bad traits came up and everything we don’t want to say. We also re-assess our wedding vows and rewrite them every year on our anniversary, and then we give ourselves grades on how we are doing at keeping them each week during our nightly ritual.
This year, I promised to listen more deeply than ever and to consciously enjoy our marriage more. He promised to make eye contact and better manage his time for the sake of our family. See? We invent new and fun conversations about life, and our love, that are just ours, and that is what keeps us connected. (And you can, too.)
Connection is the road to all things great in your marriage.
3. Respect each other sexuality.
My husband is allowed to like what he likes sexually, so there is no sneaking. Even if I don’t want to do everything he likes (and vice versa), there is no shaming about any of it. Those topics are sacred and protected. If that is not the case in your partnership, please take a good hard look at why not. I had to do plenty of work on myself to understand that I am not the same as my partner, I don’t have to be, and none of it is personal (unless it is).
4. Make your spouse your HERO.
I am now in the business of finding what I love about my partner rather than focusing on what doesn’t work. I like to catch him being my hero. Whatever quality you want to see more of in your partner, start seeing it, and acknowledging it. I recommend you write down all the times you “catch” what you want to see.
5. Get involved in each other’s lives.
Do you know what your partner does with his/her time? Are you talking about it? Do you know his hobbies, interests, what he does when he’s not at work or with you? My husband and I are intimately involved in each other’s lives and we like that. Naturally, you do not have to have the same preferences or spend all your time together, but please think something is fishy if there are weird gaps in communication or understanding of what your partner’s life is like. Please do not persist in denial. Accountability and integrity are key ingredients to a successful relationship.
6. Have sex.
Here is the final, most important way to keep a marriage hot: have sex! My husband and I have promises about how frequently we have sex. I really recommend it. Don’t let the cliché of sex fading with marriage become true (or truer) in your relationship. Cut it out!! Lie back down in bed (or anywhere!) with that person you loved enough that you committed to him or her. Just get back on the bike and ride; it really does come back to you. Do NOT wait to be “in the mood.”
Growing up means causing what you want in your life, not waiting for it to magically happen. It is not a bad thing that relationships take work– the best things in life require real effort to make them flourish. Happy Valentine’s Day, and may you consider this a blessed opportunity when it comes to keeping love alive and your marriage or partnership hot.
About Laurie Gerber…
Laurie Gerber is President of Handel Group® Life Coaching and is passionate about personal development, Laurie has been coaching individuals and groups for more than 15 years. In the last six years, Laurie built Handel Group Life Coaching from “nearly non-existent” to a thriving company of 16 coaches.
For the majority of her adult life, Laurie has been teaching and coaching adults and children in a variety of settings including lectures, discussion groups, seminars, classroom teaching, tutoring and one-on-one coaching. She leads large groups at Kripalu Center, Esalen Institute, Equinox Fitness, Soho House, the JCC of Manhattan and Natural Health Magazine’s Women’s Wellness Weekends. She regularly blogs for The Daily Love, Huffington Post, Crazy Sexy Wellness, Positively Positive, HGLC’s own weekly newsletter and more. Laurie’s rigorous yet loving coaching style was also showcased in MTV’s True Life Special I’m Getting A Second Chance.
She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two daughters
Happy Valentine’s Day! What are your thoughts here? Share YOUR secrets to a blissful marriage… or vent your frustrations! 😉