1) He has the power to please me sexually and otherwise.
It’s really important that your partner can please you and knows it. I know that seems simple and obvious, but many of us withhold our pleasure on purpose as a way to control people. We learned this at a very young age when we’d throw a tantrum to try and get candy or more time in the pool or attention from our parents. The idea is to withhold your happiness until you get what you want. Instead, you get a messy, tearful power struggle and you blame the other person.
For years, I used the tactic of withholding my own pleasure from my husband. Not just in the sexual arena, but in every arena. He couldn’t drive right, do chores right, have conversations right, or “loosen me up” in bed. So convenient that my satisfaction was all his problem and his failure, right?
But isn’t sex a team sport? Growing up means making your happiness and pleasure YOUR problem and challenge to solve. As soon as I figured that out, life got so much better for me and for my husband. I am now generally pleased with my life and what’s in it, because I have designed it that way. And I know that it is my job to like what my husband does. So, either I get to liking it or find a great and graceful way to tweak it.
It turns out that you do catch more bees with honey. Pretend it’s nobody else’s job to please you, only yours, and then pretend you are NOT ALLOWED to be displeased. How would you train people? What would you ask for? Whom would you thank and for what? What different choices would you make?
2) We make regular time for each other and treat it as sacred.
We have a bedtime and we honor it every night, to the minute. We both acknowledge how important regular face time is. During this time, we have a ritual with questions we ask each other. We chose these questions, and they’re designed to create intimacy and reveal all parts of ourselves. I have to tell him what I am proud of in our marriage, how I succeeded that day, whom I connected with, where I played the victim, and what I love about him. He has to tell me everything he doesn’t want to say, whom he connected with, what bad traits came up that day, his successes, and what he loves about me.
We also reassess our wedding vows and rewrite them every year on our anniversary, and then we give ourselves grades on how we are doing at keeping them each week during our nightly ritual. This year, I promised to listen more deeply than ever and to have my best year yet, and he promised to make eye contact and manage his time beautifully. We invent new and fun conversations about life, and our love, that are just ours, and that is what keeps us connected. (And you can, too).
3) It’s safe to talk about sexuality in our house.
Sexually, he is allowed to like what he likes and so there is no sneaking. Even if I don’t want to do everything he likes (and vice versa) there is no shaming about any of it. Those topics are sacred and protected. We don’t judge each other. If that is not the case in your partnership, please take a good hard look at why not. What are you afraid of? What is your partner afraid of? What wounds are unhealed? I had to do plenty of work on myself to understand that I am not the same as my partner, and I don’t have to be, and none of it is personal (unless it is).
4) I make him my hero.
I am now in the business of finding what I love about my partner (because I chose him) rather than what doesn’t work. I like to catch him being my hero. Whatever quality you want to see more of in your partner, start seeing it! I recommend you write down all the times you “catch” what you want to see. Most, if not all, of us have been in another sport altogether, evidencing what sucks about our partner. Cut it out, okay? Stop cheering for the wrong team and get on YOUR team.
5) We are involved in each other’s lives.
Seems obvious, right? Do you know what your partner does with their time? Are you talking about it? I’d notice if Will was not home or where I expected him to be. We are intimately involved in each other’s lives and we like that. You do not have to have the same preferences or spend all your time together, but you should think something is fishy if there are weird gaps in communication or you don’t know what’s going on in your partner’s life. Please do not persist in denial.
6) We have sex.
As long as we are on the obvious part of the list, here is the final, most important way to keep a hot marriage going: keep it hot! It’s amazing to me how true the cliché of the sex fading with time has become. Once again, cut it out! Take a stand and lie back down in bed with that person you love and are committed to. Just get back on the bike and ride – it really does come back to you. Do NOT wait to be in the mood. And, by the way, it just so happens that you are in charge of your own mood. But nice try.
This list is a great start for how to build a strong relationship, but it’s not nearly the whole picture. If you want a thorough perspective and even more in-depth advice on how to stay in love with your partner, check us out on Inner.U® or get started with our Current Reality Quiz, where you can not only start to design the marriage of your dreams, but also every other area of your life that matters deeply to you.