Connectivity and Sex

Sex is about connection. It’s about fun and games. It’s meant to bring a married couple together to share in something that is exclusive.  An exclusive moment of knowing and being known at the deepest level.  This is what sex is all about.  However, knowing all these incredible reasons doesn’t seem to eliminate how challenging it can be to make sex a priority.  See if you can relate to any of these common reasons people choose not to have sex.

  • too tired
  • too busy
  • no energy
  • too much work to do
  • don’t feel sexy
  • relational conflict (with spouse or others)
  • lack of connection/conversation throughout the day
  • it doesn’t feel good
  • our relationship needs help!
  • demands of the day (work, kids, family, house, bills etc) are overwhelming

A long list that probably doesn’t include half the reasons and excuses that shove sex to the bottom of the “to do” list.  We are unable to address all of those issues in one post but today we are going to share 4 ways to feel connected to your spouse throughout the day.  Trying these ‘touch-points of connection’ may just revive your desire to connect physically and intimately.

1. Begin your day with a smile, a kiss and a kind word.  It seems simple, maybe too simple, but what have you got to lose?  Starting the day with affection and touch can be a good way to boost the intimacy in your relationship.  A kiss, kind word and tender moment at the beginning of the day can help set the tone for the rest of the day.  Your marriage is supposed to be set apart from the rest of your relationships, so do something that truly sets it apart.  If your spouse is used to a rushed  and hectic morning encounter, determine what changes you need to make in order to give your spouse your best.

2. Communicate with your spouse throughout the day.  There are a number of ways that you can let your spouse know that you are thinking about them throughout the day.  It could be a simple lunchbox note or handwritten note in their car.  Maybe an email or text during the day.  And though our tech savvy culture may snicker at the archaic devise called a phone, it just might be the point of connection your marriage needs.  Take into consideration what communication works best for you and your spouse then follow through and begin regularly communicating. (check out these 5 text your should send your spouse from Messy Marriage)

3. Think about your spouse throughout the day.  While it is wonderful to actually communicate with your spouse, thinking about them is also very beneficial.  Set up reminders (or what we call “triggers”) throughout your day that entice you to remember your spouse.  Simple and mundane tasks take on new meaning if you are purposefully turning your mind and heart towards your spouse.  Don’t underestimate the importance of mentally and emotionally connecting to your spouse throughout the day.

4. Pray for your spouse. There is an incredibly powerful connection that is possible when we pray for our spouse.  Whether we are praying about specific concerns our spouse has shared with us or praying for more general well being, God can change the course of our marriage when we are willing to bring our prayers to Him.  There are many great resources available to help you learn to pray for your spouse and we would encourage you to use them.  Consistency however is the key.  Consistently pray for all different aspect of your marriage and watch God work.

“This post doesn’t have anything to do with sex” you may be saying right now. That may appear true as we didn’t address many of the excuses in our list.  It’s our belief though, that these ‘touch-points of connection’ can help revive your marriage.  A great sex life comes from the overflow of a strong marriage.  So if you want a great sex life begin by working on having a stronger marriage.

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Join the conversation:

How have you found that connectivity during the day helps you desire connectivity in the bedroom?

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum, Messy Marriage, Happy Wives Club

Marriage Challenge: Maximize Efforts

Simplify.

Relax.

Rest.

If your schedule looks anything like ours these days, you understand the idealism of these words.  While we have learned to include margin in our lives, there are always times when life gets busy.  Finding time to connect during those times is incredibly important to our marriage. We believe it’s important to yours too!

Today’s marriage challenge is to consider what matters most to your spouse. Marriage requires effort and if you are going to make an effort to keep your marriage strong, make sure you are putting effort into the areas that matter most to your spouse.   It’s possible to pursue a deeper friendship, companionship and love in the midst of living life, but it requires intention.  Here are a few suggestions on how to use your efforts to most benefit your spouse.

1. Learn to speak your spouse’s love language.  If you have read many marriage books, blogs or attended a marriage class/seminar you are probably aware of what these are.  If not, do yourself a favor and do a google search for 5 love languages.  It is incredibly important that the efforts and things we do for our spouse are being received.  Effort applied in the love language that means very little to our spouse will leave us exhausted and them unfulfilled.  If this is new to you, it can change your marriage.  If this is very familiar information, are you doing it? Consider this a reminder to continue to meet your spouses love language needs with creativity and selflessness.

2. Connect throughout the day in a way that is meaningful to your spouse.  Scott of Journey to Surrender has a great set of printables that may be found here.  For the purpose of this post you will want to look at the printable for Her/His Love Me All Day List. Encourage your spouse to make a list of how you can show them love throughout the day (morning, day, evening, bedtime). This list can truly give you great returns for your efforts. This practical list can help foster an attitude of service and generosity in your marriage.  It can help identify areas of opportunity that may otherwise be overlooked and it can help eradicate the stress of spending time doing what our spouse deems unimportant. We had so much fun filling this sheet out and gaining even better understanding of what each of us find particularly and practically fulfilling at different points in our day.

3. Narrow your focus and expectations.  Many husbands and wives have incredibly long lists of what they believe a “good husband” or “good wife” should do/be.  Those list of expectations are often founded on perfection rather than possibility. Lay down those expectations and start communicating with your spouse.  We want to encourage you that it is possible to be a good husband and a good wife to your spouse.  Ask your spouse for input into 3 areas they would like to see you develop or improve in as a spouse.  What matters to them may not matter to you at first, but over time develop in yourself those characteristics and actions that really matter to them.  We are not suggesting that anyone should be forced to change who they are, nor should these desires be held over our heads as a condition of love. But it is possible to graciously receive feedback from our spouse and apply effort to working on certain areas of our lives. Here is the way one wife explained how she became a three things wife.

So for today’s Marriage Challenge: Consider how you can maximize the efforts in your marriage by fulfilling and meeting the more specific desires and needs of your spouse.

13 Realities of Married Sex: #11 Sex is Exploration

We recently listened to a song titled, “I don’t know enough about you.” Have you ever asked that question about your sex life? Ever wondered if you really had any clue what your spouse likes or dislikes? Whether or not you ‘knew’ enough about their desires in the bedroom?

We’re hopeful that you have, because every married couple ought to be on equal footing in one area: knowing how to please one another sexually. Regardless of your spouse’s sexual history, or even your own history together before marriage, every married couple should continually be learning about how to please their partner.explore

Some people believe that with enough time and/or practice they will be able to just “figure it out”. While there may be some truth to that way of thinking, sex is about exploration. Exploration of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexual intimacy. Approaching sex with an attitude of exploration has strong benefits in marriage.

In fact, the really exciting thing about sex as exploration is that it includes active participation from both partners. She may provide verbal or physical cues that guide her husband’s words, touch, and movement in a way that it brings her immense pleasure. Or, he actively participants in exploration, watching and waiting to see how she responds. He adjusts accordingly, with the sole intent of ensuring she is sexually satisfied. She, too, takes opportunities to explore him, slowly revving him up before the big bang.

While sexual exploration can (and should!) be done in a variety of ways, below are a few different ways to approach sex with this mindset.

Explore and learn by way of:

Observing – Notice your spouse. Pay attention to her facial expressions. Is she showing pleasure, or concentration? Is she changing her movements and modifying her position often? Is she tense, or is she very relaxed? You may think you know what she wants and desires, but if she’s continually adjusting her body then focus some of your mental energy to change that. Pay attention to all of the non-verbal physical cues she’s providing, and adjust accordingly. The same principles may be applied to observing your husband.

Talking -Talking about sex may be unnatural for some married couples. While sex is a regular occurrence for most couples, openly discussing it isn’t something some couples like to do.

Listen up, because this is important: It’s OK to talk about your sex life, what you like, and what you don’t like. It’s OK to do this in the bedroom, and outside the bedroom. While non-verbal cues are important, actual words about what you each like will help your spouse be able to please you better. Not only that, but your spouse will also be more sexually pleased if they know they’re bringing you greater pleasure! So go ahead and discuss it. You’re going to get naked with them again soon, so why not tell them how much you enjoyed your last time together, and what they can do to make the next one even more memorable.

Touching – Even if you have been married for many years, challenge yourself to grow in your exploration of your spouse. Take a hot shower together and then slowly explore one another’s body. What simple touches causes his body to respond? Where do caresses or kisses cause her to giggle? Don’t just focus on the face, chest and other sexual regions. Explore their WHOLE body. These opportunities will lead to longer times together, and a more vibrant, fulfilling sexual experience. Not only that, but you’ll likely learn something about your spouse you can use sometime in the future…something that may provide them with a “claws to the wall” experience.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. Which is these is most difficult for you in the exploration process: observing, talking, or touching? Can we spend some time observing one another in that way soon?

2. I think we’re doing OK because most of our sexual encounters are 10 minutes or less (a statistical fact). What do you think about slowing it down a little and doing a bit more exploration? How many minutes do you think we should add to our next encounter?

3. Challenge: I don’t want to discuss these questions! I’m ready to take a hot shower and explore your body – let’s get to it!

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum, Messy Marriage

Stupid Stuff Syndrome

I (Megan) occasionally suffer from stupid stuff syndrome.  Not sure what I am talking about?  Let me explain. There are times when I overreact to any number of triggers or situations.  Some of these are in fact completely and ridiculously insignificant.  I expect I am not alone in my ability to overreact to stupid stuff.  Whether my overreactions are towards myself, my husband, my children or something else, I know that ultimately I am the one in control of how I react.  However, knowing that I am in control of my reactions and actually being in control of my actions are two different things.  I am working on it though and want to share two tips that are helping me (and my loved ones) out.

1. NBD – No Big Deal.  I constantly have to remind myself that most of what I get upset, angry or anxious about really is no big deal.  In fact, I use this mantra so much with myself that I had a friend make me a bracelet with the initials NBD on it as a constant reminder.  Our lives are not long on this earth and if our time is spent getting upset about the stupid stuff then we are wasting our time rather than enjoying it.

2. Let the crazy out.  For me, I have to let my crazy out a little bit at a time or it is more likely to cause an explosion.  Of course it’s easy to say “don’t sweat the small stuff” and practically it’s true, but there is small stuff that matters.  When that small stuff piles up it can cause grief and pain.  It’s important to deal with it rather than be completely passive about it. Find an activity, be it writing, exercising, art, music, etc. to engage in to release the inner emotions. And for those of us who are oral processors, it’s a good idea to give a heads up to the person we are talking to that we don’t need an answer or a way to fix it, we just need a listening ear.

In addition to those two ideas I would encourage you to take note of a few things the next time you have a stupid stuff syndrome moment.  Are you well rested? Are you hungry? Are you exercising and eating nutritionally? Are you feeling emotionally connected to those you love most? Depending on your answer to these simple questions you may be able to identify some of the reasons for your breakdown. Work on fulfilling these areas and you just may be able to circumvent some occurrences of stupid stuff syndrome.

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum and Messy Marriage

13 Realities of Married Sex: #9 Sex is Ecstasy

Years ago, Megan decided to surprise me by purchasing a ticket for us to ride a special bungee-swing-like ride in a major theme park.  The only problem is that I’m afraid of heights.  Though this event took place years ago, I remember it very clearly.  The slow ascent to the final destination (which was hundreds of feet off the ground!) was not a pleasant experience.  But once you’re there, there’s only one way to getKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA down.  The employee called out over a loudspeaker, “Are you ready?”  And then continued, “3-2-1 PULL!”.  Megan pulled the pin.  Over the next 1.37365 seconds, we were in a complete free-fall, and I’m pretty sure I was screaming like a little girl.  Then we felt the rope catch, and we swung back and forth until we descended to safety.  During this event, all 5 senses were fully engaged.  And in the end, I did laugh a bit about the experience.  But it wasn’t as enjoyable as Megan hoped.  It didn’t provide the moment of ecstasy she was going for.

Sex, on the other hand should be a thrilling, tantalizing and exciting experience. And while no marriage experiences those attributes every time they connect physically, it should not be a distant memory or completely foreign idea.  So what happens when sex is not ecstasy? When boredom, monotony and familiarity cloud that which you wish was more exciting and fun?

1. Build up the mind.

Great sex begins in the mind. If you have a ho-hum attitude towards sex, your bedroom activities won’t fail to reflect that attitude.  Fully understanding that where your mind goes, your body will follow is an important first step.  Use the power of your mind, your thoughts and your will to release your sexual confidence.  Make an effort to spend time thinking erotic thoughts about your spouse and anticipating how good sex could be. If you find yourself blaming your spouse for being a lousy lover, why don’t you try taking time to teach them to be a great lover.  Nobody knows everything about someone else’s body so take time to teach them about yours.  It is possible, but it all starts in the mind.  (If you are a wife with a low libido, check out Pearl’s OysterBed and join in her challenge to Unlock Your Libido.)

2. Build up the body.

If sex begins in the brain, then getting to know your own body is the next step to better sex.  Learning how your body responds to touch, taste, sight, smell and sound is a great starting point to understanding what turns you on. Marriage is the only place where sexual experimentation is encouraged and appropriate…so get to it!

3. Build up the heart.

Sex without connection can never be as good as sex with connection.  If sex is not producing much ecstasy then look to the relational aspects of your marriage and sexual relationship.  Is sex being withheld because of anger or unforgiveness? Is there bitterness or resentment building up as a result of self-centered living? Are there underlying problems in how you value sex?

Another approach may just be to work on your friendship. Sex or friendship, friendship or sex, which comes first? Truth is, neither one is as good without the other. Working on your friendship may well be a key to unlocking more passionate sex.

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Discuss with your spouse:

1. Is there anything I can do this week to help you think sexual thoughts about me throughout the day?

2. Challenge: Do something special with all 5 senses the next time you connect.  Don’t tell your spouse what you’re going to do (surely you can think of something sexually arousing to surprise him/her in 5 ways) but let him/her choose the order of the senses.  Then mix-and-match those 5 things the next time you connect.  Chances are, you’ll discover a new, fun, way to pleasure your spouse!

Positive Word Culture: Creative Word Sharing Ideas

Last week we looked at 3 ways to develop a positive word culture in your marriage.  Developing a positive word culture is important to a growing marriage.  It’s not necessarily easy but it’s worth it.  Today I want to share a few practical ways you could use to communicate affirming and positive words to your spouse.

1. Create a Word Wall.  Designate a wall, mirror or even a large piece of paper as a word wall.  Write words that you believe describe the person your spouse is or is becoming.  Write out reasons you love them or character traits you admire about them.  I turned the doors of Justin’s bedroom closet into a word wall and wrote out 20-30 words that embody the man I love. Of course I had to explain some to our children (“Mommy, why did you call Daddy ‘Hot’?”) but it was totally worth it.  Whether he felt like he was living up to those characteristics or not, I wanted him to know that I love him and truly see the man he is.

2. Sweet Words Pillow Case. When my husbands head hits the pillow at the end of the day I want him to know he is my hero, my lover and my friend.  One idea to make the pillow take on an unusual role is to take a plain white pillowcase and fabric/permanent marker and write out words, phrases, or quotes that would serve to inspire and encourage your spouse.  We all want to feel confident, assured and secure in our spouses love for us, so let’s give them those same assurances while they drift off to sleep.

3. Body Word Art.  This suggestion is for the more adventurous spirit!  Write words or even a love note all over your body and have your spouse go on a scavenger hunt to find them.  Piece the words together if they are a poem and then recite them out loud to your spouse.  Enjoy the connection that positive words can bring as well as the physical connection that results from acting on that love.

Use the power of your words to bring about positive and healthy exchanges in your marriage. Encourage, uplift and inspire your spouse. When you do this, you will find you gained as much in return.

Linking with: Women Living Well.

13 Realities of Married Sex: #7 Sex is Balance

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.” Dr. Suess

Who could argue with the above quote from Dr. Suess? Life is a great balancing act.  We have to balance how we spend our time, how we spend our money, and since sex is part of married life, we also have to balance it into our lives as well.  Not only that, but there’sScale a balance to the sexual act itself as well.  With this in mind, let’s look at various things to keep in mind as we balance our sex life.

1. Familiarity/Variety – There is a certain comfort about being able to slip into your spouses arms and know just where to caress, kiss and fondle to make them melt.  It can also be said there is a certain excitement about finding a new position, tickle or stroke that you never would have guessed would bring about such elation.  Both are necessary components in a healthy sex life.  If the entire focus is given to variety, then performance (and the anxiety that goes with it) and technique become the goal.  If the familiar is the sole focus, monotony and routine may be found to replace passion and excitement.  Finding the balance between that which is familiar and that which provides variety will enhance and improve your sex life.

2. Give/Take – Last week we wrote about how sex is both about giving and about receiving.  These are very foundational truths which you must know in order to understand sex.  If you haven’t read those, please take a moment to do so.  In order to become a selfless lover you need to understand the reality that sex is not just about you. Your gratification and pleasure are part of the experience but they are not the only part. Learning to give of your energy, your time and your body are an important part of the process.  There also comes a time when the best way to give to your spouse is to actually ask for what you want.  To ask them to touch you here, rather than there.  To encourage them to lighten their touch or deepen their thrust.  It is not selfish to ask for what you want and what feels good. Barring that you do not demand, criticize or condemn your spouse for not knowing what you want, this form of communication opens great doors of pleasure and satisfaction for you both.  Learning to live in the balance of give and take will require practice and open communication, but for increased pleasure, it’s totally worth it.

3. Fantasy/Reality – There are three ways to approach the subject of fantasy. First, those who are terrified of the word and believe every sexual fantasy and thought is sinful. Secondly, those who believe that all sexual fantasy is welcome and acceptable because what goes on in our minds doesn’t affect our reality or those around us.  Thirdly, those who balance fantasy and reality.  Unlike the previous two balancing acts we have mentioned, fantasy is, for many people, the most difficult and tricky point to learn to balance.  Understanding that fantasy is simply forming mental images and imagination is important to understanding that everyone fantasizes.  If you have ever had fond memories or exciting thoughts of a sexual experience (past or future) then you have fantasized.  The caution surrounding sexual fantasy however, is quite crucial.  Fantasy is meant to enhance sexual anticipation, desire and creativity with your spouse.  When fantasy is used to escape or avoid sexual reality with your spouse, it becomes very dangerous.  We encourage everyone to think sexually about their spouse but our stronger encouragement comes to make reality even better than your fantasy!

Sex is balance.  A healthy relationship contains the balance of the familiar and variety, it includes lots of give and take.  Strong marriages with flourishing sex lives balance healthy fantasy with passionate reality.  We are sure you can add to this list with other things in which your specific marriage and sex life need balance.  Communicate and discuss the areas of balance you believe to be most important in your marriage.

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We understand that this post was inadequate to discuss the serious issue of sexual fantasy.  For that reason we are including links to a few articles and books that uncover the topic at a much deeper level.  For further reading on sexual fantasy:

One Flesh Marriage: Your Secret Sexual Fantasy; It’s a Grey Issue

To Love Honor and Vacuum (Shelia Gregoire): book review for The Fantasy Fallacy; also her book The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex is a wonderful resource that discusses all things sexual, including fantasy.

The Fantasy Fallacy by Shannon Ethridge: A book that exposes the deeper meaning behind sexual thoughts.

Linking with: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Unmet Expectations: Holidays & Family Time

Mark: “I was just thinking…how would you feel if we had Christmas here this year? You know, at our house?”

Tonia: “You can’t be serious. You know that we’ve had Christmas dinner at my parents house every year.”

Mark: “I know, but there’s nothing wrong with mixing things up now and then, is there?”

Tonia: “Mixing things up? It’s called ‘tradition’ for a reason, dear. You don’t ‘mix up’ a tradition.”

Mark: “You know what I mean. I just think…well….it’s not an awful thing to do something a little different.”

Tonia: “You ARE serious! Wow. Do you really want to have THAT conversation with my mother? Do you!?”

Mark: “I’d be more than willing to sit down with her and your father to discuss it.”

Tonia: “Well, I still don’t know where you came up with this silly idea. It’s ridiculous to tell you the truth.”

Mark: “What’s ‘ridiculous’ about me wanting to have the family here this year instead? It’s not ridiculous at all. Besides, we both know your mother can’t cook. I’m sure everybody will enjoy their time here even more.”

Tonia: “Whoa, whoa, whoa. My mother can’t cook? Well, who was it, then, who went back for seconds AND thirds last year? Wasn’t that you?”

Mark: “You’re right. I probably shouldn’t have said that. We’re getting off topic. Let’s take a couple of steps back.”

Tonia: “Let’s just end the conversation now. There is absolutely no way we’re telling my family that we’d like to host the largest Holiday family gathering of the year. It’s no longer up for discussion.”

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Holidays. We’ve become more and more convinced that the subject of Holidays should be fully discussed in pre-marriage counseling. For the most part, there are three major Holidays a year. Easter. Thanksgiving. And Christmas. Sure, families may have a major picnic gathering every year or other annual events. But Holidays, they’re sacred family time. They hold traditions. Attempt to break or slightly alter one of those traditions and you’re going to experience some wrath. Maybe it’s the wrath of your spouse. Maybe it’s the wrath of your in-laws. Maybe it’s the wrath of your entire extended family.

This topic found its way into our marriage/family early on as well. Just a few years into our marriage, Megan’s parents invited us to join them on a free vacation to Williamsburg. The catch? We had to leave the morning of December 25. Traditionally, Christmas dinner was always with my family, but we decided to make an exception this year. Who are we to turn down a free vacation? Sure we heard some comments from other family members here and there before Christmas. But after we returned we received some backlash. Some very heavy backlash.

“Why couldn’t you have dinner with us and THEN leave for vacation?”

“You seriously chose to travel instead of joining your family?”

“I sure hope you enjoyed your vacation. Our Christmas was OK, but it wasn’t the same without you.”

It was almost as if the extended family had spent their entire Christmas gathering in a large circle and came up with a joint plan – How can we make them feel guilty for not joining us for Christmas this year?

From that point forward, we’ve probably talked with dozens of others who have gone through similar experiences. All families vie for Holiday time together. And when two people join together as “one flesh”, figuring what family you’ll join for a Holiday isn’t always easy.

Understand: Your immediate family is more important to you than your extended family. While in-laws may have a voice in a Holiday (or another family gathering) conversation, you and your family have to decide what is best for one another. If you find yourself giving more input to your extended family than your spouse, you need to reconsider your focus.

Repeat after me:

“We are making this decision for our immediate family first.”

“We are making this decision for our immediate family first.”

“We are making this decision for our immediate family first.”

Very good.

Do: Make sure you AND your spouse are in full agreement for your Holiday travel decisions. We can’t tell you how vital this is for your marriage relationship. If you both decide to spend a Holiday with the wife’s side of the family, then the husband cannot talk behind her back about why it’s the wrong decision or about what HE wanted to do.

As you try to come to a common ground, there are good questions to ask one another, and bad questions. For example…

Good Questions:

Where would we like to spend this Holiday together?

What will bring our immediate family the most joy during this gathering?

What can we do to make this trip extra special for one another?

Bad Questions:

What is most fair to our extended families?

What will your mother think if we decide to do something different?

What will others in the family think about us?

Remember, you’re making the decision for YOUR immediate family. Keep your focus, energy, and questions on that.

Understand: Traditions are ‘sacred’ for some family members. Due to this, it’s quite possible that some extended family will be more in love with the tradition itself than they are with you or others in the family. Therefore, you must remember to try to see the situation from their perspective. Why is this tradition so near and dear to them? Why is it so difficult for them to let go of? After thinking this through, it’s time to have a conversation with them.

Do: Take the opportunity to educate family members who seem unwilling to change. For example, if somebody believes a tradition is sacred, feel free to ask them why they feel the way they do about it. As you discuss it with them, it’s important to remember that what they believe isn’t nearly as important as why they believe it. So, use the conversation as an opportunity to figure out why this tradition is so sacred to them. Is it a memory from their childhood? Marriage? Family? Something else? Whatever it is, ask them how you can help them keep that memory strong at a time other than the upcoming Holiday. They’ll get to keep their ‘tradition’ at another time, and you’ll get to spend your Holiday as you choose. It’s a win-win.

Understand: Holidays are just that – Holy Days. As you make Holiday travel decisions, you’re not only thinking through what is best for your immediate family, you’re thinking about how your family will spend this time together praising God. So, if you go into the decision making process with a heart of worship, then no matter where you decide to travel, you can have full peace in the outcome.

Do: Take the opportunity to worship God and not the day. It’s much more than a day off for you. Much more than a day for your family. Much more than a day of gifts or gatherings. It’s a day of rest. A day of relationships. A day of remembrance. But more than anything, it’s a day of worship.

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How do you and your spouse decide where you’ll travel for family gatherings? Let us know in the comments below!

This is Part 7 in a series on Unmet Expectations. Read the rest of the series here:

Unmet Expectations: Introduction

Unmet Expectations: Rewriting Your Story

Unmet Expectations: Orgasmic Conflict

Unmet Expectations: Better Than The Best

Unmet Expectations: Guilt vs. Shame

Unmet Expectations: Quality Time

Unmet Expectations: Holidays & Family Time

Unmet Expectations: Friends Outside of Marriage

 

Practical vs. Passionate Romantics: Invite More Romance Into Your Marrage

In our last post we talked about how there are two different types of romantics in the world.  Practical romantics and passionate romantics.  Within a committed and loving marriage, each one of these romantics shows the other how they define romance by living out their definition.

Sadly, what often happens is that the signals get crossed.  A passionate romantic speaks and acts in a way that communicates romance very passionately.  Therefore, they may wonder why their [practical] spouse doesn’t respond well to romance.  Even worse, they may take their practical spouses mannerisms as rejection.

On the other hand, the practical romantic may be left wondering, “What’s the big deal?  Of course I love you!  But I do really need to do ‘that’ to show you I love you?!”  How can you get on the same page?

First, understand what kind of romantic you are, and then do the same for your spouse.  As you can see, if you are one kind of romantic and your spouse is the other kind of romantic, you’re both going to have very different definitions of ‘romance’. If one of you happens to have too narrow of a definition of ‘romance’, it will cause occasional problems in your marriage as well as your sex life.

If you happen to be in a marriage with two passionate romantics, good for you.  Your marriage probably  just oozes romance all the time!  The only caution here is that romance not become about competition or out doing each other.  Neither do you want it to be about comparison.  Romance is supposed to build friendship and fun in your marriage. Comparison and competition will not do that. So, be passionate.  But be compassionate as well.

If your marriage is made up of two practical romantics (that would be us!) remind yourself that romance does matter.  If you let the romance fade, as it inevitably will, you may end up in a place you never expected to be.  Keep the fun, excitement, anticipation and thoughtfulness of romance a part of your life.  This can be accomplished by taking purposeful opportunities to romance one another.  Instead of simply jumping in the sheets, add a few minutes of extra foreplay.  Instead of being practical all the time, do something spontaneous once every few months.  Even though you’re practical people, make sure your spouse knows how passionately in love you are with them.

If one of you is a passionate romantic and the other is practical, take note:

If you are a passionate romantic, take the lead and ask for romance. Rather than silently resenting your spouse, plan a romantic evening and enjoy it rather than being upset that all the planning was done by you. If you want your spouse to compliment you on how you look, tell them what you love about their body and then ask them in return what they like best about your body.  This is not manipulation; rather it is setting the stage for them to make a move in the right direction.  They’re not going to take ten steps in one week, so remember that this process will take time.  The most important thing is to extend grace.  Your spouse does love you.  Though they may not always show it in the way you want them to, remind yourself that their natural ability to “woo” you is not related to their love for you.

If you are a practical romantic, establish routines and remind yourself to appreciate and care for your spouse.  It could be as simple as having a parting kiss everyday or putting it on your calendar to write an encouraging note or send a gift to your spouse.  Be attentive to what they want and if you still have no clue, ask.  Let them teach you how they define romance and then be a good student.  And if all else fails, show up naked.  That’ll get the attention of a passionate romantic real quick!

The bottom line of what I (Megan) am learning about romance: Romance is an invitation.  An invitation to grow with one another, have fun with one another, enjoy one another, compliment one another, think of one another.  That’s a lot of “one another’s”.  Invite romance into your marriage and you may be surprised by the outcome.   Take time to regularly communicate about romance.  Caring for each other, meeting your spouse’s needs and helping them meet your needs will lead to a passionate marriage and help romance guide you through many years to come.

Romance and Sex: Which Comes First?

Many married couples wrestle through the subjects of romance and sex as if they’re sort of a chicken and egg scenario.  Which comes first?

Romance?

Or is it sex?

For some, romance sets the stage for feelings of intimacy and a desire to connect physically. For others, physical intimacy opens up desire to be more romantic.

Not only that, but it’s also easy to find yourselves out of sync in the area of romance because each person defines romance in their own way.  I (Megan) must confess, I would never consider myself romantic.  I know that makes me an anomaly (being a sex and marriage blogger!) but it’s completely true.  However, I have decided that if I desire to be a marriage mentor, I had better understand why that is.  I had better read, research and understand what romance really is and why it doesn’t seem to play a greater part in my life.

Throughout this process, I am beginning to realize that I am not necessarily unromantic, but rather I have a very narrow view of what romance is.  I would venture to guess that many marriages struggle in the same way.

Maybe you think your marriage doesn’t need romance?

Or perhaps you believe your spouse is a bit over the top in their need for more romantic gestures?

Maybe the most romantic gesture for you is clothes off and lights out?

Maybe the most romantic gesture for them is quality time, simply talking about your day?

Even if you believe everything is going well in your marriage, it’s important to really understand your spouse in this area.  If you would happen to discover any discrepancy in this area at all, it may have something to do with the fact that there are two different kinds of romantics in the world.

  1. Passionate Romantic – For this person, romance is often about spontaneity, gifts, romantic or tender words, thoughtful gestures both big and small and basically going the extra mile. Often times a passionate romantic will mention the positive memories that mean the most to them. “Wasn’t it great when we did _________” “Remember when we____________. That was so great.”  When their needs aren’t met, they may ask questions such as, “Why aren’t you more like_____________.” or “How come we never____________.” 
  2. Practical Romantic – For this person, they did the most romantic thing they could think of on their wedding day – they committed their life to another person “till death do you part.”  Romance for this person is more about showing proper respect and attention to their spouse.  They desire to have a great marriage and they accomplish this by being stable, steadfast, sacrificial and honest in the relationship.

It could be argued that there exists a third type of romantic, an indifferent romantic.  This, however, is really more about selfish and self-centered living within a marriage and therefore is not being thoughtful or romantic at all.  A person like this is difficult to be married to, not because they are unromantic, but rather because they live for their own personal satisfaction and gain.

In our next post we will look at what happens when you have any combination of the two above types of romantics living together and what you can do about it.  But for now, a few thoughts on why romance does matter in marriage (even if it has taken me much introspection to realize this!).

1. Romance can provide a certain spark and zest for living in what is sometimes a difficult and cynical world.

The truth is that both people in a marriage need some level or romance.  Whether it’s passionate or practical is really up to you.  But that romance is necessary to ensure that your marriage continues to be a priority, if not the priority in your life.  When your marriage operates as a priority for both of your lives, it makes difficult job / parenting / & other relationship problems seem very insignificant.

2. Romance can help create an atmosphere of attraction, desire and happiness in marriage.

Remember, some may find that taking your clothes off is all the ‘romance’ you need.  Indeed, this will (or it definitely should!) create attraction, desire, and happiness.  But for those who are passionate romantics, be sure to communicate your desires to your spouse.  Being as specific as possible, let them know how they can keep your romance-tank full.

3. Romance can provide memorable and pleasurable experiences that draw a couple closer and enables them to become one flesh more easily.

In short, romance is something that brings a great deal of contentment to a marriage relationship.  It helps both parties to find extreme levels of comfort with their spouse.  This type of contentment is often searched for elsewhere, but never found.  Finding it with one another is a sure building block for a successful marriage.

I could write much more, but the bottom line is that romance is important, and I for one will continue taking notes on how to incorporate it into my marriage more often.

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Are you a practical romantic, or a passionate one?  What about your spouse?

Is there anything you can do this week to spark their romantic flames?

Linking with: We are that family, Women Living Well, To love honor and vacuum