Marriage Momentum: Turning Up the Heat

Older couple in loveThe first time I ran across Kevin Lehman’s book, Sex Begins in the Kitchen I was hooked. As I guy who spends a lot of time in the kitchen and goes through cookbooks like others go through mystery novels, I figured I should check this out.

My parents modeled a healthy marriage with a lot of affection. It was common to walk into the kitchen and see them stealing a kiss, playfully touching each other and even dancing. When I was in grade school I thought this was gross. But I’ve come to believe that those moments in the kitchen must have led to all kinds of other ‘cookin’ that supported their 60 years together. Their long love affair started in the kitchen.

When Nancy Lee and I have lead marriage retreats,  one of our favorite icebreakers is to ask couples to choose a movie title to describe their love life. It’s always good natured humor when we create the list: The Fast and the Furious. Gone in 60 Seconds. Beauty and the Beast. Much Ado About Nothing. Toy Story. Toy Story 2. (I’m not making this up!) Toy Story 3. All of that silliness leads to an important conversation about firing up passion in the bedroom. Under all the giggles and nervous laughter there are some very real struggles and misunderstandings about sexuality, intimacy and the adventure that God intended from the beginning. Healthy sexual relationships are critically important  to a quality marriage—sex makes a significant impact on whether you will rate your marriage as satisfying or not.

So, while sex may have some origins in the kitchen, healthy intimacy begins with conversation. Find a cozy place away from distractions to talk about your intimacy. Let me suggest two starting points and then five things that couples can do to “keep the fire burning.” The reflection questions at the end of this piece will help start the conversation.

 

First, It’s About Quality, Not Quantity.

Interestingly, many people wonder how often they should be having sex—as if they’re somehow falling behind the national average of 2.5 times a week. They worry they should be having sex more often than they do; rarely are people asking if they should have sex less! The truth is simply this: quoting averages is pointless. All that matters is that you should be expressing physical love as frequently, or as seldom, as you and your spouse want.

 

Second, Be Aware of the Obstacles.

There are obstacles to a satisfying love life in every marriage. Go ahead, make the list: little or no energy, no privacy, no spontaneity, kids knocking on the door, hormonal changes, and physical condition are all factors. Another important factor is the presence of televisions and/or other versions of technology. A 2006 Italian study revealed that couples with televisions in their bedrooms made love half as often as couples who did not have a TV. Add the presence of tablets and smart phones and it seem like the whole planet is in bed with you.

 

Five Steps to Better Sex

1.  Talk, Talk, Talk …

Go ahead, talk to each other about sex and be honest about what you like. Communication is key. Talking about what interests and excites you can be very revealing. Talk it through together.

 2.  Go On, Leave!

Plan a  getaway even if it is at home. . Anticipation is part of the adventure.

3.   On Guard!

Guard your time fiercely. Talk about the things that threaten your time alone and intimacy. When you do this together you’ll be more able to guard against the pressures of “not enough time,” “not enough energy,” “hormones” “kids” “busy schedules,” “physical condition.”

4.  Have a Plan!

Candles, music, food, etc… SPLURGE!

5.  Overcome sexual ignorance.

Really, it’s okay to talk about sex. People have been talking about and studying sex, not to mention doing it, since the beginning of time. But even in the 21st century, there is a remarkable amount of ignorance about the differences between men and women and sexuality.

 

For Reflection

  • Give a movie title to your sex life for the past thirty days. If your creativity is waning, simply describe your sex life for the last month to each other.
  •  If you could change one thing about your recent sex life, what would it be? Share your thoughts with each other.
  • Consider deliberately scheduling an intimate night together. What do you like or dislike about this?  What do you fear about doing this? Be honest with each other.  
  • When you could schedule a special night together this month. Be specific.
  •  Explore what would make this time especially gratifying or meaningful to each of you.

 

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