Keeping Intimacy Alive

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Marriage can be a delicate balance of the mundane and the passionate, the ordinary and the romantic. For many, mundane and ordinary take precedence over the passion and intimacy. When you were young and madly in love, I bet you never thought it would get so vanilla. It is common for intimacy to lessen, but only if you are the average couple. If you want a stellar relationship, you have to be above average and willing to work at a continuing development of the partnership.
Comfort in the relationship is often the reason why our intimacy lessens. A wife may feel like she can get away with coming home from work and donning the sweat pants. A husband may let that beer gut protrude a little more.  A busy lifestyle with distractions like TV shows, attending the kid’s concerts and sporting events can leave little time for each other.
Can you start to recreate that spark by spicing things up in the bedroom? It keeps the mystery alive. Recently my husband surprised me by taking out the back seats of the “mom” van and filling it with pillows and blankets. He drove me to a secluded place and made love in the van like crazy teenagers.
Once in a while, I will take my husband on a mystery date. The latest one was to take him to a winery where we enjoyed painting our own set of wine glasses as we drank.  Now, every time we use the glasses, we are reminded how much fun date night is, even after 30 years of marriage.
When you have been married for years and years you may feel like you know everything about them, but you will never fully know your partner, as we are (and should be) always evolving, growing, learning and changing. Therefore, it should be fun and easy to continually attempt new things. Perhaps a new genre of book you can read together, a different restaurant, meeting new friends, going up to a couple you have never met at coffee time after church and chatting with them, redecorating a room together, learning how to play a game or sport that only the other spouse excels at are just a few ideas that come to mind.
Some of my married friends feel like they are living separate lives from their spouse and think that it is healthy to maintain some autonomy. I am not entirely sure that couples should maintain separate lives. I never enjoyed drinking and dancing on date night. I prefer dinner and a movie. But, when my husband complained that I never liked the bar scene, I was totally fine with him going out with his male friends to tie one on. Later I discovered that the man he hung out with was divorced and that they would dance with women they met. The seemingly innocent night out with the guys led to an affair that I had discovered had been going on for about 5 or 6 months. When he and I decided to resurrect the marriage, I had to learn how to enjoy an occasional drink and to be ok with looking like a fool on the dance floor.  It was a lesson for me that my husband didn’t care how stupid I looked dancing around. He just wanted a fun night with his wife. When I stayed home or worked an evening job, I deprived him of the opportunity to enjoy being with me.
That being said, we do enjoy different things. He loves to shoot his bow and arrow at a target range. I love to grow organic vegetables. He likes Clint Eastwood movies. I don’t.  Do you see where I am going here? It is fine to have different interests that make our lives richer for being able to share our differences. I enjoy watching him shoot at the target and he enjoys eating my garden goodies.
If you think you have seen it all, it is time for a meeting. Yes, I know, it is no fun to have a board meeting with a spouse, but often times you must approach your mate with your concerns and your goals for keeping the love alive. Make a list if you have to, of all of the things you would like to try. Read a relationship book and assure your husband that you are not trying to “fix” anything, but simply continuing to love and grow with him. You never want to get to the point of where one of you is looking for something outside of the relationship!

 For my husband, he found something outside of the boundary of marriage after our 25th year together. Perhaps it was a typical mid-life crisis. He saw our first born going off to college and felt old. I had been working a lot at an evening job and he was lonely. 

For me, I have not looked outside of the relationship for fulfillment unless you call changing careers looking for something more. As of late, I have changed my circle of friends to include more people who are committed to healthy relationships and prosperity. It has been an exciting thing to expand my breadth of knowledge as I go into my 50s.
To avoid confusion and heartache, I recommend that you do not be subtle in your relationship. Your needs must be known, heard and understood. Subtle often does not work when dealing with your spouse. It’s ok to be blunt if you can do it with love in your heart.
If you need more suggestions, read a risqué chapter from a book, throw away the flannel pajamas, get new sheets, put some different music on the MP3, gaze into each other’s eyes, or role play. You are only limited by your own creativity. Just remember that love and happiness is a choice. Choose love!

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