I am going to throw down the gauntlet. I am issuing a challenge to you.
I am also trying to figure out how to say it tactfully. Give me a moment here.
You are learning that I have a heart to see marriages strengthened. My husband and I just celebrated 18 years of marriage last week, so at this point, I do feel that I have a fairly good grasp on the subject. 18 years is a long time. We can attest that your marriage can (and should!) improve over time. Being married is AWESOME, but it isn't always easy. You can pretty much ask people who have been married more than 30 minutes whether that is accurate, and my guess is that 99% of couples will agree (or at least one member of the couple will agree).
There is a natural ebb and flow to a marriage relationship, and the relationship doesn't look the exact same in year 2 as it does in year 18. And that is perfectly normal. But no matter what year you are in, I want to help you get out of the ebb and back into the flow.
I am about to ruffle some feathers. Have a seat.
When I think back, I think I first gave my advice about 12 years ago, talking to some friends from a moms group at church (shoutout to my old NKY MOPS peeps). It was a close knit group, and were all sharing some heavy stuff at the time. A few women were voicing some dissatisfaction in their marriages. Just a disconnection from their husbands, and a kind of malaise about the marriage. Nothing radically wrong, just not feeling great.
So I just threw it out there.
"You should try to initiate sex with your husband for 30 days. In a row," I suggested.
Dead silence. Uncomfortable staring. Some nervous giggles.
This was not earth-shattering advice, I didn't think. But it struck a chord with my friends in my group. They initially laughed it off, but I was serious. It makes an enormous difference in the quality of your connectivity, and I encouraged them to try it.
Now I am a mentor for a moms group at my church (wow--time flies!). I was speaking with some of my young married women friends a few months ago, and shared my advice with them. Yes, you are allowed to talk about these things at church. In fact, we need to encourage it. Anyway--we were talking about the Love Languages, actually, and the topic came around to the specific love language, Physical Touch. None of the women in my group had Physical Touch as her primary love language. But guess what? Most husbands DID.
I know that sex is a hot button issue (no puns intended) and we see a lot of it, and hear a lot about sex in our daily lives. It is ubiquitous--from every tv show to every commercial, every magazine, every click-bait headline...you can't get away from it. True. There is a lot that is broken about the culture we live in, and sex is frequently misused, and lots of people have been hurt by that misuse. But here is the thing of it--in its intended state, it is extremely powerful to connect you and your husband in the best way.
I don't think it is possible to overstate the importance of happy, healthy sex within your marriage. Intimacy in your marriage is paramount to feeling close and connected. If no one has ever told you, or you have brushed off the idea that this is that critical, I ask you to reconsider.
I gave these women the advice that you should not send your husband out into the world hungry, because someone will always be willing to feed them. Especially if your husband travels frequently, you need to be cognizant that the opportunities for him to stray are legion. Men are different creatures that we. Your husband needs that validation. He needs to know that he is attractive. He needs to know that he is WANTED. And, my friend, you are at the controls. He wants YOU.
The power you have in your relationship to fill these needs is EVERYTHING. You will totally fry his circuits if you take my challenge, and he will offer to swim through shark-infested water to bring you lemonade to show how much he appreciates you. (The lemonade part is an old Dr. Laura reference, just in case you didn't know, but illustrates a great point)
I can just about guarantee you that when you are the one to initiate the physical intimacy, you are making an investment in your own happiness (present and future).
Maybe you already know that having sex is (obviously) pleasurable, but there are loads of other benefits, including: lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, releases serotonin and oxytocin (which help lower your stress and make you feel happier) & increases your self-esteem. Lots of great things here. AND, your husband will be so much more likely to speak YOUR love language. You will automatically be more playful and flirty with one another. It encourages you to overlook the little bothers of the day. It's a win-win-win. For each of you personally, and for the strength of your marriage.
The Love Language quiz from yesterday's post is a valuable tool to focus your attention in the area which will have the greatest impact in showing love in your relationship. But, no matter which love language was at the top of his list, I can pretty much guarantee you that your physical affection for him is the Primary Primary. And you need to nurture and protect your marriage by taking this advice to heart. It is the spark you need to (maybe re)start the fire, and your relationship will benefit in the bedroom and out.
Valentine's Day is the perfect day to start.
I have always said that 30 days is the best timeline to work with here, because it takes a solid commitment, but you can get the ball rolling in the right direction and enjoying the benefits of a better marriage in 7 days, so...what are you waiting for?
xo, Ann Marie
If you want to feel newly in love all over again, you need to take my 7 Day Valentine Challenge. Opt in by signing up at the bottom of the page, and you can win a piece of custom art from me! The winner will be notified by email Friday 21, 2020. I will contact you directly and you will not be posted on social media!
*And I see you, Mom with little kids, and you are exhausted at the end of the day and you are DONE being touched. Perhaps the kids have been hanging on you all day long and you have HAD IT UP TO HERE with being touched. Make the exception. Your husband needs your affection. It's that critical to your marriage.
**I am NOT saying that you should use sex as some sort of bargaining chip. Love is about giving. Sex in your marriage is very important, but it isn't the MOST important thing. It needs to be about doing what you can to bring joy to the other person. It is not about being a sexual door-mat. I just want to clarify that if you are experiencing issues with sex and power struggles in your marriage, find a good counselor.