In my last blog we set up the idea that we can have a joyfully monogamous relationship in our marriage. We agreed that in order to have the love affair we’re really longing for with our partner, we’ve got to give up certain engrained myths that we’ve been schooled in.
These include: 1) the ‘hot’ part of our relationship was when we were dating or newly married, 2) desire has to lose its luster over time, and 3) the responsibilities of marriage will ‘naturally’ deaden our willingness to be intimate on a regular basis. These are untruths we’ve been taught to believe, and in order to get to the fulfillment we want in our loving we have to give them up.
In my new book on simple marriage and intimacy strategies, I focus very practically on what gets us into our loving on a regular basis. My dear friend Bill Schacht (MS, LCSW) has coined the phrase ‘Joyful Monogamy’ in his Wisconsin workshop series “Great Relationship Sense” (www.GreatRelationshipSense.com), and that phrase is an apt description of what we’re after in marital love.
So, how do we get our heads and bodies in this thing called love—particularly in a long term marriage? First, we need to stop thinking that our adult loving should look or feel like our dating years.
When we first get together with someone who rocks our world, we often throw every responsibility to the wind to be in his or her arms. Then, we marry that person, and the heavy tasks and duties of being a marital partner (work, family, kids, money, maintaining our homes and health), conspire to bring our desire earthbound and sometimes stop it in its tracks.
Adult loving is usually not going to be populated with the slam-and-jam, run-through-the-wheat-fields, stare-into-each-other’s-eyes-for-hours experiences we had when we were first starting out. And we have to be willing to let our relationships grow past those early experiences, and then deepen into the gift of long term loving.
What is the gift of long term loving? Prowess is the essential gift of joyful monogamy. The ability to know each other, to develop things that work sexually, intimately and romantically with each other over time, and then, from that base of fulfillment and expertise, go exploring even deeper. But to get to that—you guessed it—we’ve got to practice.
Prowess is the thing we don’t have when we’re starting out. We have newness, and that’s a thrill—no doubt. But the thrill of prowess—of knowing that no one can touch our body better than our partner, and that we alone have got the juice in our fingertips to take our husband or wife from zero to 100 just because we want to—cannot be replaced by any other experience. It’s a time-in practice. In order to get it, we have to engage in sex and intimacy on a regular basis, over the course of years.
How do we do that in the crazy, pressured lives we lead? And what will that look like in practical terms?
It means we have to stand up for our loving and put aside uninterrupted time for it. And we are going to talk in more specific terms about how to do this in the next few blogs.
The point of loving over time is not to drift; it is, in its essence, meant to be a deepening experience. The good news is, we can learn some simple skills that will help us deepen our prowess with each other. And that’s just what my next blogs (and my new book) will do.