Yesterday we talked about the importance of having a healthy and thriving level of intimacy in your marriage. Today we are going to talk about how to get it there, or how to keep it there and always improving.
Communication – honest communication, selfless communication and loving communication is all you need to get your intimacy level to where you want it and beyond. If you are not yet to the point in your marriage that you can talk about such intimate subjects, that is okay. Everyone has been there at some point.
If these type of conversations haven’t occurred in your marriage or have but not successfully, read this post first before going on: Is Your Marriage Safe?
The first conversation, and many after, will be a simple few yes/no questions. “Are you good with our intimacy?” “Yes.” “Okay good.” “You?” “Good.” (It is challenging to be fully honest in this phase.)
Then after this you can move on to the next step. Of course there are not really any defined steps, but here is what we mean when we talk about the process of improving your ability to talk about marital intimacy:
Level 0: You never talk about it.
Level 1: You carefully bring the topic up occasionally and stick to yes/no questions.
Are you good? Are things oK?
Level 2: You talk about it more regularly, and start addressing some specifics.
How often would you like to be intimate?
Level 3: More in-depth, and more personal, and more vulnerable with each other.
What are ways I can show you that I love you?
What is one thing that I can do that would help you be more in the mood?
What can we do to make this happen? (Think about making time, atmosphere etc)
Am I meeting your needs?
Level 4: We’ll let you know when we get there! : )
After probably years of the first two steps you can move to the next deeper level. At this level you really need to go into this conversation with the intent to learn more about your spouse versus looking for an opportunity to get offended. The point of the conversation needs to be how can you learn about your spouse, not how you can get what you want. How often you talk about this is up to each couple.
- You have to both be okay with talking about this. The one who is more comfortable should be respectful of the one who is less comfortable.
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
- You won’t fix all of the areas all at once. Focus on one thing to avoid being overwhelmed. (For instance, focus on frequency of intimacy for now and plan to focus on the quality of intimacy later.)
- Speaking with ‘I’ terms rather than ‘you’ terms. For example, “When this happens, I feel like you think that I’m not living up to expectations.” As opposed to,
- There will be tension and conflict with this. Don’t shy away, but don’t take it too far either. Nate would say, “Know when to hold em and know when to fold em.”
- Again, the idea is to find out one or two new ways that you can bless your spouse and improve your marriage. The idea is not to make your spouse change or to air all of your complaints.
- Have realistic expectations that match the season of life that you are in. Pre-kids, honeymoon phase is different from baby phase which is different from empty nest phase.
It may seem strange and uncomfortable to talk about such things. It is much more natural to hint around and hope that your spouse gets the picture without you having to actually say it out loud. That reminds me of a classic moment from Everybody Loves Raymond. In a typical shouting match, Deborah says, “I would think that after 10 years of marriage you would know what I want without me having to tell you!”
To which Raymond yells back, “I would think that after 10 years of marriage you would know that I don’t!”
My husband cannot read my mind, and I can’t always read his. (Just sometimes!) So if we are not talking about it then we are just guessing and hoping for the best. That certainly is a good start, but if you can learn to communicate about this most sensitive of topics, then your relationship will grow to be even more fulfilling for you both. We wish you the best!