This is a guest post by Ashley of Mama Says Namaste.
If you want to know how to make a relationship stronger, I have something to share. Intimate love goes deeper than a surface connection, and creates a space for you to reconnect emotionally with your partner with every touch. If you want emotional closeness, being intimate is a huge part of how to strengthen your relationship.
The Love-Making Myth
Once you’re married, you make love all the time. Right? That’s what I thought, at least. One day, when I’m in a committed relationship, we’ll roll in the sheets all day in pure bliss, and the rest of the world will wait.
Yes, I sense your skepticism. There are too many jokes about how intimacy stops when you commit to someone. Regardless of whether it’s a traditional marriage, common law or simply a committed relationship, I have news – intimacy is not automatic. Can you learn how to strengthen your relationship by how to be more intimate? Why yes, yes you can.
Unfortunately, there are many relationships where intimacy of any kind just doesn’t happen. A random handhold over a prayer may be as close as a couple gets. Once in that rut, it’s hard to get out of it. And soon enough, you find yourself living with a roommate or companion. It’s nice enough, but it’s not an intimate relationship. How to be in a relationship with intimate love is possible.
The Sex Challenge
Back in the beginning of our marriage, we had our ups and downs with intimacy, until we hit a crazy turning point. At this time, we had one toddler and were ready to start trying for another. My husband Nathan was more than willing to “practice” for having another baby every night!
As we debated on how much sex we really had, a challenge popped in my head. Now, if you know anything about personality styles, this is an essential foundation for motivation. For me, I love a good challenge. So my husband thinks we don’t make love enough? Fine – 7 day challenge accepted.
We’ve heard about the 7 days of sex challenge, and we figured that was a piece of cake. So we did it. And then we added another week. And another, until we hit a full 365 days. And we kept going.
And yes, our middle child is now 8 1/2 and my youngest is 5. We’ve added two more kids, so in the midst of having babies and toddlers in our home, we somehow managed to have sex consistently almost every single night!
Seriously. Nine Years.
How To Make Your Relationship Stronger
Now yes, let’s not get too technical – we allow for grace. We may not make love every single evening anymore. But who’s to say morning or afternoon should hold us back? And then there are those days when it happens twice, and we may take a break. Intimate love is critical for our emotional closeness – and how to make a relationship stronger.
Yes, my friends, you’ve heard me correctly. For the past nine years, through two pregnancies, we’ve averaged making love at least 5 times a week, every week.
Before you tell me I’m absolutely crazy, I’m going to let you know why this is important, what it’s done for us, and how you can create your own intimacy connection.
Before you write this off as absolutely ridiculous, hear me out. Making love every day may not work for you. We happen to both be high energy, active people. You burn a lot of calories during lovemaking, and it’s an endorphin rush we love adding into our daily routine – not only for marital health, but our physical and emotional health as well.
It’s hard to stay emotionally distant when you physically connect on a daily basis.
Read that again. Marriage isn’t simply a one-and-done ceremony. You don’t just say “I do” and your work is done. It’s a daily choice to love another.
Love is a verb
Love is an action – it’s intention, every day, to choose to love your partner, and to show it. How are you doing this on a daily basis? It doesn’t have to be all-out sex. Intimacy can encompass a lot of things. It is a close relationship where there is deeper connection; a familiarity, affection, closeness and confidence in the connection.
So how do you add more intimacy and connection into your relationship?
5 Tips for Intimate Love
Our family has been RVing the States full-time since October 2016. Not only do my husband Nathan and I still make love on a regular basis, we’re navigating this awesomeness with 3 kids and a dog in a 240 sq. ft. travel trailer. So if you think this isn’t possible for you, well…try my life. I’m proof it’s possible.
So here are my top 5 tips for intimacy – both on the road and off.
- Make it a priority.
This may sound like common sense, but it isn’t. Your life reflects what you prioritize. And life happens to us regardless of whether we are intentional in it. Especially with a growing family and tiny curve-balls of children in the home, you can quickly fall into being a “victim of circumstance”, where you are simply reacting to what all is tossed your way. So get intentional. If intimacy in a relationship is a priority for you, that means you are thinking about it every day and you get focused on how you will prioritize and add it in.
Have a love affair with your partner. People have affairs all the time – they get sneaky – and they prioritize it. It isn’t on the sidelines; it’s new, exciting, and their special secret. Why not shift that energy into your partner before an affair is what you go to? Get creative. Have fun. Get sneaky on how you might add in the physical aspect. Touch is an opportunity for intentional connection – and the more we add it in to our relationship, the more our attention is focused there. You can’t really ignore touch for long – if someone is touching you, you pay attention. Especially if it’s in an intimate way. So fix your attention on one another and reach out and physically connect.
- Schedule it in.
I’m not suggesting that this becomes a scheduled, mundane part of a daily routine. But scheduling it in makes it clear for both of you – there is no guessing game; it’s clearly laid out.
Unspoken expectations simply lead to resentment and insecurity.
Lay it out so you have time scheduled in your day to make your physical connection a priority. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate date. There may be a huge shift in your relationship by something as simple as a calendar alert at 3:30 every day that says “kiss your honey”. And that’s it – just a simple reminder every day to physically connect.
It may be quick kiss or hug. It may be “date night” on your calendar once a week. Or, it’s shifting your routine to include time together – always having your morning coffee together, or taking a set amount of time every evening before bed to just talk and touch.
- Lay out the expectation
For us, there was a time when we had special connection time every evening – but without laying things out, we got into a rut where Nathan felt like the pressure was on him every night to lead the show – so he was responsible for setting the mood, initiating touch, etc.
So we clearly laid out expectations. We had a “his, hers, and ours” routine. One night, the focus was all on Nathan – anything he wanted – it could be cuddling up and watching a movie, a massage, making love, or just having deep conversation as we hold hands on a walk. He would share if there is something he wanted to do, and it was my responsibility to make it happen – to set up the room for a massage, pour drinks, do whatever to pamper him. Then the next night, it would be me – same thing – I can call the shots, but Nathan would be responsible for initiating everything. And then on the “ours” nights, we’d work together to connect and create an evening that benefits us both.
Every evening, we still have that set aside as special together time. We draw a line in the sand for when our parent hats come off and we come together as lovers, not simply going over to-dos and parenting, but the two of us truly stopping the tasks and being together.
Be open with one another and clearly communicate your wants/needs. If you aren’t sure, be open about that as well, and learn together. Get to know who you are and what makes you feel the most connected to one another. This is such an important facet of your relationship. And if you don’t know yourself, its hard to expect your partner to know better.
- Make it your routine.
Make your partner a priority and just as much an important part of your daily routine as exercise and meditation. Not all habits are bad – you may get into the habit of vegging out in front of the TV every night, or you can create a habit of daily yoga and/or other exercise. I want to stress the importance of creating a habit around your physical connection. It takes 28 days to break a habit…and a full 90 to really enforce a new routine to make it a habit.
If you make it just as much a part of your daily routine as exercise and brushing your teeth, it becomes an automatic part of your life that you miss when you don’t do it. If you exercise regularly, your body misses it and feels “off” if you don’t make it a priority. In the same way, if you create a habit out of physical connection with your partner on a daily basis, you will miss it if you don’t touch. Our physical intimacy is such a part of our daily lives we really notice if a day goes by that we don’t touch. It’s like missing that yoga or meditation that keeps us centered and focused – and connected – for the day.
- Choose love. Every day.
Every day we wake up, and choose to love each other. Like I said before, this isn’t a random thing that just happens to you. Love is a verb that must be acted on. As a marriage and family coach, I work with families to help them shift from chaos and reaction to a life of intention. The first step is to take responsibility for your actions – to recognize that you have a choice in how you react and engage in the world, and in your most intimate relationship.
When you wake up, think about what your goal is when it comes to your relationship. Do you want to connect? To feel love? To ensure your partner feels your support? Before every interaction with your partner, ask yourself, “what is my goal?” Make sure what you say and how you act matches your intention, and, every day, simply choose to act in love.
Author Bio: Ashley takes families from surviving to thriving by helping them uncover how “the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.” She guides parents through identifying their strengths – and also their triggers – to live with intention and not simply reaction to the chaos of an ever-growing family. Through her podcast, blogging, coaching and personality “snapshots”, she provides tools and action steps to aid families in creating a life they love to come home to…not “one day”, but in the present moment.
Ashley, her husband (and podcast co-host), three unschooling daughters and dog are RVing the States full-time. They focus on authenticity, awareness, and embracing love in the present moment.
To find out more about marriage, parenting, minimalism, family travel, personality styles and “functional education”, go to www.MamaSaysNamaste.com
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