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I am a New Year's resolution enthusiast. A self-help junkie (with Baby Jesus' help, of course). And a certified over-the-top optimist to my core (although I don't always wear it on my sleeve).
Personally, I love the feel of a new year. It's like taking a bath, figuratively washing off what I no longer need of the previous year, and getting all relaxed and rejuvenated for the new year. I genuinely like soaking in that.
But I'm a realist, too.
I know that lofty platitudes of change mean little if they are not shored up, at least somewhat, with actual follow through.
For years I've been in a longstanding love/hate affair with the word intentional. It is my life coach and nemesis and drinking buddy all rolled into one.
So suffice to say, I will always be part grasshopper and part master.
Now before you think I'm just doling out the insights, trust me on this -- my beloved and I have a lot of room to grow in our intimacy, sexual and otherwise, this upcoming year. My insights to you are echoing through my own marital walls and halls, too.
2017 wasn't exactly our most shining year, relationally speaking. Being the optimist I am, though, I am confident 2018 will be a hearty improvement.
Ugh. Can you even believe I started here? Oh the irony, considering I'm an optimist.
It sucks when there are sexual struggles in a marriage, but the research (formal and informal) doesn't lie on this.
If we don't address what plagues and torments our relationships, the struggles tend to just cause more distance, not less. This is true about all relationship struggles, including sexual struggles.
And I know that many of you who are faithful followers of my blog have tried to address the struggles, to no avail. I encourage you to try again, and if such pleas are still falling on deaf ears, then proactively do something different that is within your own control.
Here are a few ideas...
Seek a Christian counselor to hopefully gain some professional insights, practical coping strategies, and new communication tools.
Dig into your relationship with God. I never cease to be amazed that when I humble myself and actually seek God and pray for my marriage, I often feel more at peace (even if my spouse doesn't change). There is comfort and peace from God that nothing on earth will ever replicate, and we'd be wise to avail ourselves of this resource.
Improve your own physical health. Exercising and eating healthy generally give us a better outlook on life and help us have more energy. A little physical self care is good investment.
My heart isn't to suggest that the above are easy fixes to deep relational pain. My heart is simply to encourage you to do something different in your own life that may help sustain you.
After church one day recently, my husband and I decided to go grocery shopping. Rarely (like hardly ever) do we grocery shop together.
While meandering through the aisles is a rather mundane task, it occurred to me that it also is the type of thing a husband and a wife who are friends would do.
Now I'm not telling you to simply go grocery shopping together. What I'm saying is that when we build intimacy with our clothes on -- when we invest in our friendship and presence with each other -- we are laying groundwork for other intimacy.
I don't know your marriage, but I encourage you to figure out where you can be a better friend to your spouse. I'm convinced friendship is good foreplay.
I've often said that for all our strides in communication, we can become a bit tongue tied or paralyzed when trying to communicate what feels good sexually. Yet doesn't it stand to reason that the two people having sex should be able to say what feels good?!
My experience has been that talking about sexual pleasure only gets easier by more talking and more expression. Tell your spouse what feels good, and the more specific and more timely you can be, the better.
Likewise, ask your spouse what feels good. The question, "Does this feel good?" seems so basic, but it can do wonders when posed during foreplay, lovemaking and passionate connection. Such a question isn't just a request for information, but more importantly grants encouragement for your spouse to speak up, proclaim "yes" or offer redirection and guidance.
Relying alone on assumption rarely ushers us into profound sexual pleasure. Much better odds with actually talking with each other.
Copyright 2018, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.