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Help! Our Intimacy is Gone

Rekindling the passion may be easier than you think.

You expect a campfire to burn hot and then turn into ashes. But you didn’t expect the fire to die down in your marriage, did you? Love… sex… connection… You expected them to go through ruts, maybe. Highs and lows? Sure. But nobody expects to wake up one day and realize the intimacy is gone.

And we’re not just talking about sex. Intimacy is way more than sex. It happens when you and your spouse fully know and experience each other—sexually, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. 

If your intimacy is gone, there are some things you can do to understand why—and find ways to reignite the flames. These questions and “fire starters” may heat things up a bit.

Has your marriage become child-centered? 

Before kids, the backseat was for… you know. (Oh, don’t act like I’m the only one!) But maybe now the backseat is full of car seats. Does your marriage feel like it’s taken a backseat to the kids?

Children can be exhausting. (I know. I’ve got seven of them!) They keep you awake, and they require a lot of energy. It’s hard for parents to be intimate. It can be different, though!

Fire Starter Tips:

  1. Schedule kid-free time.
  2. Give kids a bedtime that allows you to be friends and lovers.
  3. Schedule a good babysitter for date nights.
  4. Teach your kids to do some things on their own.
  5. Intentionally put the married back in married parents.

Where’s your focus? 

It may seem logical to you that if intimacy is gone, more sex will help—but it doesn’t work that way. I said this earlier, but it’s worth repeating: Intimacy is about so much more than sex! In fact, there are 6 different types of intimacy in marriage. (If you want to learn what they are and how you can grow them, check out this toolkit.) When intimacy is gone in your marriage, focusing on emotional intimacy is a great place to start rekindling the flame.

Fire Starter Tip: 

Schedule 15-20 minutes daily to learn about each other’s thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears, emotions, etc. 

No technology. No kids. And no interruptions. 

This consistency will reignite and deepen your intimacy. If you’re too busy, cutting something out of your schedule to focus on each other will help. (Try these marriage conversation starters.) 

Are you holding back? 

Being vulnerable is hard. I get it. Especially if there’s been hurt, distrust, or betrayal. But hiding parts of yourself from your spouse (or feeling unsafe) can smother the fire of intimacy. Without transparency and vulnerability, the disconnection grows and blocks the airflow.

Fire Starter Tips:

  1. Breathe life into your relationship by identifying why you may be holding back.
  2. Discuss why it’s hard to open up. A good marriage counselor can help.

Are you both at your best? 

I feel like I’m a better husband when I’m:

Esther Perel, author and marital intimacy expert, says we can offer our best when we are most connected. Different seasons of marriage—having a new baby, caring for a loved one, or working an intense schedule—call for different responses. Being sensitive to extra stress your spouse may be experiencing can increase intimacy.

Fire Starter Tips:

  1. Look at your schedule together and prioritize your marriage. 
  2. Talk about how you can help each other.

What do you expect? 

The early stages of marriage can make you think intimacy is natural. There’s a 2-year honeymoon phase when your body naturally produces chemicals that drive your passion. After that, your body stops producing those chemicals, so it may feel like the natural intimacy is gone. It can hit you unexpectedly. You wonder if you married the right person or if you’re just not in love anymore. More than likely, you’re just moving to a different season of marriage. Perel tells us that our desire for our spouse increases as we see them in their element. It reminds us why we fell in love and increases our curiosity about them. 

Fire Starter Tips:

  1. Don’t look at what you’ve lost; look at who you’re missing. 
  2. Acknowledge and appreciate what your spouse does well. 
  3. Stay curious. 
  4. Do something different.

Intimacy dies when we stop exploring each other (in all the ways) or put up walls. But sometimes, fresh eyes or fresh adventures can get that flame burning high and hot once again. Don’t give up!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

How can you love your spouse and be thinking about having an affair? Is that even possible? The whole thing is super confusing. 

Well, believe it or not, there may be a logical explanation.

Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, says couples need both closeness and distance to sustain a level of sexual intimacy or gratification. 

Many couples have been together 24/7 with very little time apart since the pandemic began. Time apart helps create sexual energy while you think about being with your spouse later in the day. 

COVID has taken away a lot of the opportunity for anticipation. With the lowered level of sexual energy, many couples are bored. And they may not feel much attraction toward each other at all. 

Since our brains crave novelty and excitement, the lackluster sexual energy at home may open the door to looking elsewhere for that excitement you used to experience with your spouse.

If you love your spouse, but you’re thinking about having an affair, consider these things…

“When you are feeling some emotional impulse, as in entertaining the idea of an affair, you have an opportunity to examine the impulse rationally, says Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets to Surviving Infidelity

“Stop. Consider the consequences. The very same muscle you exercise when you consider the consequences of running a red light—smashing another car, getting a ticket, dying, can be exercised in this instance,” Haltzman says. “Thankfully, we don’t just live on instinct. We can think through the risks of our potential actions.”

Haltzman suggests considering all the things that could happen, such as contracting a disease and giving it to your spouse. 

Plus, think about the hurt your spouse will feel when they find out.

“In my experience, most affairs are discovered,” Haltzman says. “Maybe not immediately, but at some point. You need to consider the impact on the person you have an affair with and the impact on your own body because you are keeping a secret from your spouse.”

There’s also the moral and practical issue, according to Haltzman. You made a promise to your spouse and to yourself to be faithful as one of the pillars of your marital relationship. And you promised that when nobody else was vying for your attention. 

You have to guard against rationalizing your thought process. 

Haltzman believes it’s possible to bring the sexual energy back into your marriage, even if you’re thinking about having an affair.

He also suggests taking the energy you were putting toward considering cheating and putting that energy back into your marriage. 

Here’s how!

  1. Do new things together. When people are exposed to novel situations, exciting things, or new challenges together, it draws them together. New experiences with your spouse will increase your sense of attraction to each other.
  2. Create space and anticipation. Agree that you’ll spend the day apart—even if it’s on opposite ends of the house. Consider only communicating during the day by cellphone, so you can look forward to seeing each other at the end of the day.
  3. Play dress up. Staying at home all the time may lead to staying in pajamas or sweats and not caring for ourselves. Do something different. Consider what would be sexy to your spouse. 
  4. Use your imagination for your marriage. Use your imagination to focus on and create sexual energy with your spouse instead of someone else.
  5. Get back to the basics. Do the things you did when you were apart and looking forward to being back together. Tease each other with text messages. Create adventure through the element of surprise. Laugh together. Write love notes and leave them in unexpected places. 😉
  6. Be willing to be playful. Go outside and stamp a message in the snow, go camping, or create art together. Make a funny video, create a themed date in your bathroom or somewhere else that’s fun.

While the idea of an affair may seem exhilarating, it’s a pretty risky business with potentially lasting and damaging consequences. Find out why you might be entertaining these thoughts. Then turn toward your spouse and be intentional about creating something different. These things could be the key to changing the sexual climate in your marriage.

Here are some other blogs you might find helpful:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

Why People Really Have Affairs (It’s Not Always Just About Sex)

Protect (and maybe even save) your marriage by being open with your spouse and talking about these ideas.

Marital affairs are kind of like rust. On the surface, it’s apparent that a single, ugly event has happened. But underneath is a complex process of chemical reactions and driving forces that have built up over time. Affairs are complicated like that. And finding out why people really have affairs can be even more complicated.

Therapist Esther Perel describes an affair as having three essential elements: 

  • A secretive relationship
  • An emotional connection
  • A sexual chemistry

The word chemistry is used here because actual sexual activity doesn’t have to be involved to be a marital betrayal. To paraphrase Perel, the mere thought of a single kiss can be as powerful as hours of lovemaking. 

It’s essential to understand emotional affairs-—when one is getting their emotional needs met by someone other than their spouse—are just as damaging to a marriage as sexual affairs. Not to mention the fact that emotional affairs often quickly escalate to sexual ones. 

But what causes a spouse to stray? It’s tempting to want to peg the blame on a single factor. He just wasn’t getting enough from his wife, so we went hunting in the bars. She didn’t feel loved at home, and another man showed her attention. 

Rarely do affairs boil down to one single reason. What leads up to the one-night-stand or the seductive conversations over text is usually a mix of ingredients that have been simmering for a while. To understand this, it might be more helpful to think of affairs as having contributing factors rather than reasons.  

Let’s look at five of these contributing factors to help explain why people have marital affairs: 

1. They let their guard down. 

Good marriages do not prevent affairs. Just when you think, “I could never do that,” or “Our marriage is much too healthy for infidelity,” is when you are the most vulnerable. Anne Bercht, director of Beyond Affairs Network, writes that the keys to affair prevention are realizing your marriage is not immune because it’s good, and being informed. She says there is no such thing as affair-proofing your marriage. But “developing open, honest, respectful communication in your relationship, including the ability and commitment to give and receive constructive criticism” is a strong foundation to keep your guard up. 

2. They let their marriage go out of focus. 

We often become hyper-focused on work, stress, hefty schedules, or even kids. Especially kids. Life happens. It’s easy to fool ourselves and say we do this for our marriage. The problem is our marriage suffers because it’s not being focused on. It’s in these circumstances the doors to infidelity crack open. You can minimize this factor by ensuring your focus remains on your spouse. 

3. They give a NOD

Infidelity and marriage expert Scott Haltzman explains in his book, The Secrets to Surviving Infidelity, that an unfaithful partner gives a “NOD” toward an affair: Need, Opportunity, Disinhibition. The Need is something they feel is missing in their life, such as love, respect, attention, or emotional support. The Opportunity for the affair might be a business trip, an office party, the gym, or being alone with someone in your circle of friends. And the Disinhibition can be alcohol or drugs, but perhaps more often something such as resentment, depression, or a sense of entitlement. 

What is interesting is the NOD can also be the key to avoiding infidelity. The more two people seek to meet each other’s needs in marriage, it minimizes the opportunities and disinhibition that leads to betrayal. 

4. They were seeking something they feel they didn’t have. 

Esther Perel says that affairs are less about sex and more about desire. “At the heart of an affair you will often find a longing and a yearning for an emotional connection, for novelty, for freedom, for autonomy, for sexual intensity…” The problem here is that often the other spouse doesn’t know these things are missing because they are never told. A healthy person communicates needs to their spouse. 

5. They aren’t happy with themselves. 

Many times, the affair is more about the unfaithful person than it is about the marriage or the other spouse. Perel, again, offers lots of wisdom here: “When we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t always our partner we are tearing away from, but the person we have ourselves become… We aren’t looking for another person as much as we are looking for another self.” Experiencing something missing from your marriage and seeing the NOD at work requires a hard inward look at yourself. It begs the question, “Am I happy with who I am? Am I about to let dissatisfaction with myself damage my marriage with this choice? 

The truth of the matter is we are all capable of having an affair. However, every spouse has the ability to say, even though I am capable, I will make the conscious choice not to walk through that door. As Anne Brecht puts it, be informed. Be aware of the contributing factors that can be at work and work to reverse those. Be open with your spouse and talk about these ideas. Together, make the conscious choice to remain steadfast in your marital relationship. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

3 Ways Good Communication Can Enhance Sex In Marriage

Being a better talker and listener can give you better everything else.

What if I told you you could say some magic words that would take your sex life to the next level in your marriage? 

Let’s try it. Ready? Say them aloud slowly and clearly: 

Koh-mew-nick-hey-shon. 

Did it work? 

Probably not. Magic words don’t really work that way.

But there’s good news! There is something that can bring your marital sex life to the next level! (And it’s magical, in a sense!) Communication. 

Lots of research has shown us how communication and sexual satisfaction in marriage are positively linked.

How you talk to each other could determine how fulfilling your bedroom activities are. Here’s why: 

  • Good communication in marriage is conditional; it depends on using effective communication skills in a healthy way.
  • Good marital sex is conditional; it depends on setting the right atmosphere that good communication provides. 

Public Service Announcement: We have to make a distinction between good marital sex and, well, just sex. Any couple can “do the deed.” No communication needed for that. But you do need healthy communication for you and your spouse to have fulfilling, satisfying, amazing, bring-two-bodies-and-two-hearts-together-makes-our-marriage-stronger kind of sex.

I think you get the picture…

So, with that simple but very important concept in mind, here are three ways good communication can enhance sex in marriage: 

1. Good communication gives you a greater sense of connection, closeness, trust, and intimacy, which spells out better sex later on. Good communication is great foreplay. 

Author and speaker Dr. Gary Chapman tells us that, because satisfying marital sex depends so much on other areas in our marriage being healthy, foreplay doesn’t begin once you hop into bed. It starts way before. It’s how you handled that tough morning conversation, the deep discussion you had over coffee, the laughter you shared. All of these interactions throughout the day set the stage for what happens in the bedroom at night. 

Put It Into Practice! Read up on some resources for more meaningful conversations in your marriage, including this and this. If you want to go into a deep dive for deeper communication, work through this fun online communication course as a couple.

2. Good communication increases vulnerability. Baring it helps you bare it all! 

“Bear” with me on this (pun totally intended). 

Marital sex is often a reflection of how other relationship exchanges with our spouse go down, including how you communicate. So, if your points of communication include moments when you feel like you can “bare it all,” (you can share your true feelings, thoughts, and needs) then this helps you to feel more vulnerable and open in the bedroom. It increases your ability to feel secure with your body and to “let go” a little when having a fun romp with your spouse. 

Put It Into Practice! Incorporate “deeper level” questions into your conversations:

  • What are the top 3 things you need from me in our relationship?
  • What is a dream you would love to see fulfilled (no matter how unrealistic)?
  • Who’s had the greatest influence on you as a person? 
  • When do you feel the most loved by me? 

3. Good communication about sex can enhance sex. So… talking about sex leads to better sex! 

Studies tell us sexual communication among couples—discussing what they like, what they don’t like, what’s a turn-on, what positions they enjoy, and so on—is linked to satisfying marital sex. 

Couples often need to work through the awkwardness they might feel with sexual communication. It’s important to remember this is a process. The more you engage in sexual communication, the more natural it becomes. Sexual communication both increases connectedness and improves what goes on in the bedroom. 

Put It Into Practice! Schedule a regular weekly time to talk about sex. Focus on a specific question each time, like: 

  • What gets you in the mood? 
  • Which things turn you on about me?
  • What positions feel the best for you? 
  • What kind of foreplay (besides good communication, of course!) sets the stage for you? 
  • What’s something new you’d like to try in the bedroom?

There are no magic words you can just say to make sex more mind-blowing. But over time, the words you say, the communication you share between you and your spouse, can make marital sex more magical. Try some of these practices this week. Make them a habit and watch the magic move from words to the bedroom.

Great articles for improving your marital communication:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.

Why Do Couples Stop Talking?

Get 10 ways to spark more conversation.

When you got married, did you imagine endless conversations and an unending exchange of thoughts, ideas, dreams, and emotions? Fast forward a few years down the road and now you find yourself sitting in the bed or eating a meal together in sheer silence, feeling disconnected from each other…

Finding yourself in this place isn’t that unusual. Many couples experience times in their marriage where the talking to each other seems to stop. However, like anything else in marriage, conversations do take a little extra intentionality than when you first began. To start talking again, it helps to understand some of the reasons you may have stopped talking in the first place.

Here are 10 reasons couples stop talking and a few ways you can spark the conversations again:

1. You’re just out of words.

It’s easy to run out of things to talk about. At times it’s okay not to be talking each other’s ears off.

The ebbs and flows of marriage will often self-correct this situation. Conversation starters can begin casual conversations that get you below the surface and learning new things about your spouse. Sometimes sitting and simply enjoying each other’s presence, taking a stroll down memory lane, or embarking on new adventures all aid toward a new batch of conversation.

2. You’re tired and busy.

Life stacks up, and all of a sudden you find yourself lying in bed at the end of the day too exhausted to connect. 

Stop, take a timeout, gain control of your schedule, and consider your priorities. Give yourselves the margin to gain your energy back and reconnect again.

3. You’re tired of having the same conversation over and over again with no resolution.

You know the argument… the one that never ends and neither of you can seem to agree or feel heard. You both feel like your feelings are being invalidated. This affects anything else you talk about, causing tension to build. Instead of saying the same things over and over, you choose to remain silent.

Giving attention to make sure you’re addressing the real issue and not just the symptoms may be the first step in removing the roadblock to your communication.

4. You live separate lives.

You work, exercise, talk to your set of friends, and golf. Your partner works, is a wine-tasting connoisseur, talks to their set of friends, and plays video games. You’re not sharing time, experiences, or interests.

Begin doing something together: cooking, hiking, puzzles, learning a new skill together, etc. It sparks conversations, creates memories, and cultivates curiosity in your relationship..  

5. There’s a lack of emotional safety in your relationship.

You don’t feel cared for or like you matter. When you do share, you feel judged, misunderstood, criticized, or dismissed. To prevent experiencing the sense of rejection, you shut down.

Have an open, honest conversation about how you’re made to feel when you share. Gently give specifics about comments made or expressions that hurt. Share with your spouse what an emotionally safe space feels like.

6. No one is taking the first step.

Neither of you wants the responsibility of initiating a conversation about what may be causing the lack of communication.

Choose to take the lead in meaningful conversation. Just like leading a dance, when one person leads, the other typically falls into rhythm and follows along.

7. Technology has taken over.

Distracted by the phone, social media, and all the technology trappings? 

Consider phone-free and tech-free time just for the two of you to connect.

8. You’re ignoring the elephant in the room.

There’s a topic that needs to be brought out in the open, and it’s causing the potential for any other point of connection to be shut down. 

There’s only one solution for this: have the hard conversation; but, make a commitment to discuss it in a healthy,  respectful way. Remember to affirm each other’s opinions and feelings. 

9. One of you is an introvert and the other is an extrovert.

If an extroverted partner doesn’t leave room for the introvert to talk… pretty soon, the introvert just gives up.

Discuss each other’s communication styles and how you can ensure that both of you have your thoughts and feelings heard and understood. 

10. There is anger or unresolved conflict present.

Something has happened in the past which causes you or your spouse pain. And this pain short-circuits any kind of meaningful conversation you could have with your spouse. 

Whatever has happened needs to be addressed in a safe environment. Each person’s pain needs to be validated. Seeking professional help may be the best option. 

There are lots of reasons why couples stop talking, but you don’t want this to become the norm. You are always in the process of either connecting or disconnecting in marriage; there’s no such thing as maintaining the status quo. Reflect back on why you married your spouse in the first place and become a student of your spouse; there is always more to learn about them, and therefore, always more to talk about. 

Understanding the reason you stopped talking in the first place can be the first step to reconnecting again. Ironically, talking together about why you aren’t talking can be the start of a beautiful dance. The goal to reconnect on a deeper level just might be, at the moment, the one thing both of you can talk about.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

3 Great Dates To Enhance Communication In Your Marriage

Open up to each other during your time together.

With everything couples have been having to focus on lately, it’s no surprise that enhancing communication in marriage might be a bit lacking. I mean, who has time to sit down and have meaningful conversation about anything besides work, school decisions, masks and hand sanitizer?

That being said, what if we get creative for you and give you some fun date nights that set the mood for some lighthearted fun along with the chance to enhance communication in your marriage? Good idea? Great, glad you like it! Let’s get this party started. 

Date Night #1 – Party Under the Stars

Grab some snacks, a candle or two (gotta set the mood for romance right?!), a quilt, change into some comfy clothes (depending on where you live, clothing could be optional ;-)), one smartphone with a stargazing app (Skyview and Star Gazer have great reviews), make sure the kids are tucked into bed, and head on outside for a date under the stars. This is especially fun if you are in the midst of a meteor shower.

While you are searching the night sky for the different constellations, play a variation of the game Never Have I Ever… One person starts by saying, “Never have I ever…” and then finishes the sentence with something they have never done. If neither of you have ever done it, give each other a smooch. Then it is the other person’s turn to say it and complete the sentence. If the other person has done it, no kissy face for you! Unless of course you decide to cheat a bit.

After you’ve played a few rounds, spend some time sharing the answers to these questions:

  • What I love most about us is…
  • One of my favorite memories about us as a couple is…
  • Something I would like for us to do more of as a couple is…

The goal here is not to create a major production, but just something simple that will give you some time to yourselves. Believe it or not, even 30 minutes (we hope you will take longer… just sayin’…) to just be together, playful with each other and talk about lighthearted things will help you feel more connected to one another. Part of what makes a date night great is the anticipation of knowing it’s coming, so grab your calendar and make it a date! Oh, and don’t forget, this is your time to reconnect—so no talking about the kids, bills, work, the in-laws or anything else that could create space between the two of you.

Date Night #2 – Shut the door and turn the lights down low… Spa Night

Talk about a great way to de-stress and create conversation. This date starts earlier in the day as you send text messages to each other creating anticipation about the experience. It’s all about pampering each other. Oh yeah! 

Grab some towels, scented candles (lavender, lemon, or jasmine scents all promote calm), massage oils, bath salts or bubble bath, cucumber slices, and face masks (No, not that kind, silly—the kind you rub on your face and peel off later :-). Create or select a romantic playlist (check out this Warm Fuzzy Playlist on Spotify). Oh, and don’t forget some yummy snacks you can feed to each other. Lock the door and let the fun begin.

To get things started, turn the lights down low, hit play and light the candles.

Next, draw a warm bath and include a bath bomb or bubble bath (hopefully there’s room for two for a nice long soak). If a bath isn’t an option, there’s nothing wrong with a nice steamy shower or just a simple soak for your sore feet. It’s all about washing away the stress and tension of the day and focusing on your love.

Now that you’re a bit more relaxed, it’s time for a couple’s massage. What? You aren’t a professional masseuse? No problem. Actually, massaging each other builds intimacy, creates opportunity for bonding and opens the door for conversation. Don’t underestimate the power of your touch. Oil up the areas you want to massage and teach each other what you like. Try massaging different parts of the body—feet, hands, neck, shoulders, back, etc.

As you continue on your journey to relaxation, you may find putting cucumber slices over your eyes after slathering on a face mask refreshing. If you’re not into the whole face mask thing, maybe just cuddling is your next move, or… well, I’m sure you guys will figure it out. 

If you are looking for a few conversation starters to enhance communication in your marriage…

  • What’s one thing you love about our sex life?
  • If I could have more of one thing from you it would be…
  • One thing I would love for us to do more of together is…

Date Night #3 – Dinner and a trip around the world—virtually

a staycation of sorts. This date starts with the two of you dreaming about the places you would like to go, but can’t right now. Once you have made your list of places, narrow it down to your top three. Based on your top three choices, decide on a food theme, where you will eat your meal (at the table, on the patio, in bed or somewhere else). What kind of environment do you want based on the places you will visit? Music? Candles? What’s the appropriate attire for your date? Do you want to cook the meal or will you order it from somewhere? Cooking together can add to the fun… or not. That’s for you to decide. 

Now that you have all of that decided, once dinner is ready and you are eating, you can either take a trip around the world visiting the places you would like to go some day OR you can take a trip down memory lane and go through pictures from previous trips to the places you love and want to visit again.

Here are some conversation starters for the trip you decide to take:

  • What makes our marriage adventurous?
  • One of the things I look forward to most about taking this trip with you is… OR My favorite memory of us on a trip was when…
  • One day, I would love for the two of us to…

★ Now, you may be wondering how in the world any of these dates will enhance communication in your marriage. Glad you asked.

For communication to flow easily between spouses, people need to feel cared for, connected, a bond, safe, valued, and a sense of closeness. 

When you are intentional about dating, especially dates where you take the time to open up to each other, check in, where you can be playful with each other, and dream together about the future, you are laying the foundation to enhance communication in your marriage.

Wait, what? You’ve had so much fun with these three dates, you want more?! Well okay. 

How about this? FTF has created a special couple toolkit—5 Days to Better Communication in Your Marriage. Don’t worry. It’s not intense— just filled with practical strategies for helping you get to where you want to be as a couple when it comes to communication. Go ahead, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

A look that needs no explanation, a touch on the arm that says I love you, an unexpected hug because even though you think you’re hiding it well—your spouse knows you need it. Pretty much all of the warm and fuzzies happen when you feel connected to your spouse. And there’s nothing quite like that feeling.

Having a deep connection with your partner enriches your marriage and makes it fulfilling. The understanding you have between each other, the romance, and delighting in the little things (like waking up together) always feels more natural when you feel connected to your sweetheart.

Sometimes, it can feel a little challenging to connect when other things in life keep popping up and vying for your attention. But don’t get discouraged, there are little things you can do each day to pull your spouse a little closer even when you’re apart. 

Ways To Feel More Connected To Your Spouse:

1. Embrace the Micro-Moments of love.

You don’t need a grandiose plan to show the tenderness you feel towards your spouse. Think small and build from that. When you pass each other in the kitchen, touch each other. If you go to work, whether at the same or different times, kiss each other goodbye, say “I love you.” Write a note and stick in a lunch box, on the mirror or hide it somewhere you know your partner will find it. You could write a compliment, a note of anticipation to be together again—the options are endless. Send a text just because without any agenda beyond the desire to connect. (Don’t ask about what’s for dinner or bring up something they are responsible to do.) These small moments of connection can go a long way and they don’t take more than 30 seconds to do.

2. Rekindle the flame with a nickname.

It may sound funny at first, but whispering sweet nothings in your spouse’s ear can spark a smile, a kiss… maybe something more. Taking a moment to show adoration and endearment with a simple “honey,” “sweetie,” “boo,” maybe even “sexy,” or “hot stuff.” 

Grab their attention, tell them you love them, and take a few moments to bask in who they are. Flirt with your spouse! Takes a little more effort, but anything worth your time does. Change your usual, “How was your day?” to “I’d love to make your day even better ;),” and choose what that connection looks like.

3. Do a task or chore for your spouse.

The catch is to not point it out, bring it up, or expect recognition. Do this as a reminder to yourself that you care for your spouse, that you’d go out of your way for them. Plus, if you had time to do something they normally do, by getting it out of the way, you’ve made more time to be together!

4. Be Intentional.

Being connected to your spouse means you make your interactions count. (That may mean being intentional amidst all your busyness and being sure they happen.) Run an errand with them. Ask them to run an errand with you. Make those car conversations count. Go for a walk around the block together. Tell them to dress up fancy for a night in or out. 

Another way to be intentional is through conversation. Instead of saying “I like your outfit,” say, “That color is so flattering on youit brings out your eyes.” Or when your partner is about to leave for work change, “Have a great day at work!” to “I’m so proud of you, you have such a skill for what you do!” These verbal affirmations communicate that you’re paying attention to what’s going on behind the scenes.

When your partner is telling you about their day, opening up about how they’re feeling, exploring a new topic for conversation, try giving them your full attention and some verbal affirmations. Not only will it show them that you’re present, but it’ll also show that you take interest in them, are still curious and want to know more about who they are today. Ask open-ended questions, “What got you interested in this?” “How can I be there for you?” 

These 4 little ways to feel more connected to your spouse can make a big difference in your relationship! In marriage, the pursuit for each other never stops. You fall in love with each other over and over again as you continue to change and go through new experiences and seasons. If you want to try a new experience or need help sparking some conversation, we have some great free date nights you can do at home—check them out here! The two of you have a daily opportunity to express the love you share, and the more love you share, the more connected you’ll feel!

Some bonus blogs to keep that connection going!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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There are a lot of answers to questions I don’t want to find out: How long can my car run without an oil change? Would anyone notice if I walked out of the house wearing a crop-top? 

And if you were to ask me, “Can a marriage survive without intimacy?” I’d tell you I wouldn’t want to find out. But then I’d ask, “Is that really what you mean?” 

Because there’s a big difference between surviving and thriving. I can survive wearing a crop-top out in public, but I sure as heck wouldn’t thrive (at least how I picture myself thriving). 

Do you want a surviving marriage or a thriving marriage?

Show me a thriving marriage, and I can’t help but show you a marriage chock full of intimacy

People sometimes mean different things when they say intimacy. Some refer to emotional intimacy, that affectionate, emotional connection with your spouse. 

Others take intimacy to mean, well, sex. 

And both would be right. If you do some research, you will find that these are two sides of the same coin and that emotional connection and sexual connection are inextricably linked. The quality of one has an effect on the quality of the other. 

Here’s what I mean: Jack thinks there’s a lack of physical intimacy in his marriage to Jill; sex has become mundane and much less frequent. Jill’s not too bothered by this, but believes that there’s a lack of emotional intimacy; they just don’t communicate and connect on a deep level. Jack doesn’t know much about that; he’s just hoping tonight might finally be the night. 

What Jack and Jill might want to know is that neither physical nor emotional intimacy just happens. You have to work at both with intention and gusto. 

And when Jack and Jill take the time to connect on an emotional level, their sex life can experience an uptick. Conversely, putting some more effort into their sexual relationship can easily deepen the level and bolster the volume of their emotional connection.

I like to think of it like this: building up intimacy in your marriage is like pedaling a bicycle. One pedal is emotional intimacy and the other is physical intimacy. Pushing one pedal forward brings the other around ready to be pushed. Repeat the cycle (see what I did there?) and you quickly gain momentum and acceleration. 

And there are two things I know about pedaling a bicycle: it takes work, but the more you gain momentum, the easier it becomes to push the pedals. The same goes for emotional and physical intimacy in your marriage. 

So how do you push those pedals to build intimacy in your marriage so that it will thrive? 

Make small connections throughout the day.

Key times are when you wake in the morning, before you leave for the day, when you come back together at the end of the day, and before you go to bed. Connect by bringing a cup of coffee in the morning, a goodbye hug, a hello kiss, asking, “How was your day?” Leaving love notes, or watching a funny show before bed. You choose your rhythm and kind of connection. Small things count big with intimacy. 

Carve out time to spend with your spouse.

Shoot for one date-time a week, even if it’s at home with microwaved pizza watching a RomCom. Establish some basic rules: no cell phones, no talking family business, no kids in the same room (or floor, or house). Just be with each other. 

Plan sex.

Have a Sex Schedule. Yes, you read that right. Plan the nights you’re going to have sex. This has worked wonders in my marriage. Scheduled sex helps my wife (who needs to warm up to the idea of sex sometimes) to anticipate it ahead of time. And it helps me (who needs no warming up whatsoever) to avoid wondering when the next time will be and to initiate with the confidence that I won’t be met with rejection. (A couple of caveats to scheduled sex: our rules are that either of us can call an audible and ask for a raincheck for any reason. And, unscheduled, spontaneous sex is certainly never off the table!

Dedicate to communicate daily.

Talk, talk, talk. Try to go beyond casual conversation and go deeper with personal insights, feelings, dreams, and needs. Much of our communication is like a small business meeting: Did you pay the water bill? Are you driving Little Man to practice? Google “Questions that build intimacy” and have some pillow talk.  Listen twice as much as you speak. Learn more about active listening here.

Can a marriage survive without intimacy? The truth is, yes it can, BUT it doesn’t have to. Even if you find yourself in a hard place right now where your marriage feels empty and neglected, you can commit yourself to do something different. Push one pedal and then the other. I repeat: it takes work and some time. Sometimes, one spouse in the relationship has to do the bulk of the pedaling before the other catches on. But it’s worth it. Plenty of couples have been where you are, changed up the dance, and would wholeheartedly tell you it’s worth the energy and effort to have a happy, healthy, intimate, thriving marriage. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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READY TO HAVE AMAZING, MIND-BLOWING SEX?

A better sex life is totally possible.

Your marriage goes through ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy passion and mundane routine-filled days. But sometimes you can get stuck in that monotony. Not only does your sex life go out the window, you may find conversations are lacking and that you’re both just generally not connecting with each other.

Discover Deeper Intimacy in Your Marriage offers simple, practical strategies to help you reignite the passion and connection with your spouse in 5 intimacy-building modules.