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I insisted the other night that my husband and I go on a date.
I mean, I didn't sound insistent. But I saw an opportunity and grabbed it with enthusiasm.
His mom could take our youngest. Our oldest could stay home and play video games. And my husband and I could do something we rarely do... go on a spontaneous date.
My goal was not only some time with him (high on my love language list), but also some conversation about what sometimes happens when our lives feel stressful.
I'll paint the picture for you: Stressful Life = Isolation for Each of Us.
Granted, the isolation is not intentional and not always the outcome. We actually are pretty good about not letting our chaos or our kids ruin our intimacy, sexual and otherwise.
But there are moments when our life starts to crash in on us, and we each resort to a triage mentality where we individually assess the crises.
Without any discussion, we forge down our own method of "divide and conquer." Only problem -- and it can escalate into a big problem -- is that we aren't always triaging through the same lens. Not only are we not on the same page. We become angry about each other's pages.
(For those of you who have always wondered where the word "triage" comes from, it has French origins and means to "assign degrees of urgency." It's the word they use in emergency situations to determine who is hurt the worst and needs the most immediate attention).
Are there times in your life and marriage when you glance around and all you see are gaping chest wounds? Everywhere. Yeah, me too.
When my husband and I are in triage mode, our own agendas and lack of communication can lead to a whole lot of frustration and disconnect, not to mention take an icky toll on our sexual intimacy.
As I've often said, if you want intimacy in your marriage, you're going to have to be intentional about creating it. Thus my insistence... I mean suggestion... that my beloved and I go on a date.
We grabbed dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then went to another place to have a drink. The drinks we ordered didn't quite live up to their enticing menu description (I'm sure they provided the restaurant pa-lenty of profit margin), but we rolled with it.
Our date was refreshing on many levels, but I'm most grateful for what happened when we leisurely walked back to our car after we finished (and laughed about) our less-than-thrilling drinks.
On that walk, we re-discovered one surprising technique to reconnect sexually.
The technique? Side-by-side communication.
Side-by-side communication is when you talk (sometimes quite vulnerably), yet you are not facing each other. It can be a more comfortable way to open up, because it can feel less awkward than when you are looking at each other.
A walk is an obvious example of when side-by-side conversation is ideal, but it also can happen when you are working on a project together or when one of you is doing something and the other is simply there as well. For example, my husband sometimes works on cars, so while he is working on a car, I could be there as well. Though I am of no use with the car work, my presence can give us an opoprtunity to talk.
Now, don't get me wrong -- there is a deep necessity for face-to-face communication as well. Side-by-side communication complements the communication process in marriage, it doesn't replace anything.
So what does this have to do with sex?
Well, as we strolled back to our car, I shared vulnerably about how I don't like the dynamic of what happens sometimes when our life feels overwhelming.
I courageously said, "I need the hard things in our life to draw us closer instead of drive us apart. I need us to be good support for each other instead of battling each other."
I went on to say, "I don't ever want a marriage that is just 'okay.' I want and need a marriage that is intimate and deep. I want that to be our norm."
Yeah, I know you're still sitting there thinking, "So what does this have to do with sex, Julie?!"
When a husband and wife vulnerably connect verbally and emotionally, some amazing sex is bound to follow. Does it really surprise anyone that lack of verbal and emotional connection with their husbands is one of the common reasons wives give for not being interested in sex?
Now, I don't want to reduce connection in a marriage to a bartering transaction, where one person gives something just to get something and vice-versa. Manipulative motive cloaked as authentic connection is anything but authentic.
A better vision to embrace is that each form of intimacy strengthens and furthers other forms of intimacy.
Anyway, that's just a long way of saying our vulnerable side-by-side communication led to some incredible sex.
Intimacy begets intimacy. Have you found that to be true in your marriage as well?
Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage.