The biggest source of conflict in your marriage can be resolved with this easy principle! (more…)
There are those who believe that anything that is battery-powered does not belong in a married couple’s bedroom. Then there are those who say that sex toys have saved their marriages. Among Christians, there is a fierce debate about whether the use of sex toys are okay or not. Marriage Capsule decided to investigate…
A lot has changed since the days when women’s “hysteria” was “cured” using a steam-powered contraption, which turned out to be the predecessor of the first electro-mechanical vibrators that saw the light in 1884!
Today, sex toys come in every color, shape and size. From jagged little black numbers with studs, which would freak out any conservative Christian woman, to the innocent duckling, butterfly or rabbit.
Over the past few years, people’s attitudes towards sex toys have also become very relaxed, to the point where it is now almost normal to discuss these around the dinner table. However, this doesn’t mean that the controversy surrounding the subject has completely disappeared.
NO! Sex toys are still taboo
Do sex toys break the unity between husband and wife? Will they eventually become a substitute for your sex partner? For many Christians, sex toys are completely off-limits and not something that can reconcile with their faith.
Well-known speaker, Gretha Wiid, wrote a few years ago on her personal Facebook page that she believes the greatest gift that God gives people in terms of sex is not a wonderful orgasm, but the gift of intimacy. She made it clear that she was not a supporter of vibrators and also referred to her husband, Francois’ DVD called Sex that Destroys.
Gretha is convinced that one can bring lust into your marriage and that even though certain things might be acceptable to both partners, they should not necessarily become permissible. She believes that nothing should take a husband’s or wife’s place. One must also guard against the desires of the flesh and rather obtain divine intimacy in your marriage, she believes.
“Unnatural assistance does not belong in a Christian marriage”
Dr Stella Potgieter is a pastoral counselor who conducts research into sexually deviant behaviour. She also lectures to graduates in order to equip churches to help people. Stella says: “Sex toys are aids used for sexual stimulation to promote intimacy. Intimacy, on the other hand, is a process through which two people, who love each other, freely share their feelings, thoughts, and actions. Through sex, we seek intimacy. Someone to belong to. As is often said: ‘God equips us with all the right tools’ and we do not need ‘help’ of an unnatural nature,” Stella explains.
“Among others, God has given us sex to enable us to become one. What happens between two people when they have sex is a deep mystery and a meeting of two souls. While the human body is temporal and spatial in its physicality, it must be seen and treated as a bodily space for the care of intimacy and bonding, for the body accommodates the soul.
“When penetration occurs, an encounter takes place, yes, an encounter with the other, but also an encounter with the OTHER. The deeply mystical sexual union takes place in God’s presence. This is when husband and wife become one. When sex toys are used, this meeting does not take place.”
“Sex toys can become addictive”
The use of sex toys can, according to Stella, also lead to people losing their passion for sex and/or looking for more and more stimulation in unnatural ways. “Sex was given to man by God to enjoy (Proverbs 5:18). Because the sexual intercourse between two people is the deep mystery of the encounter between two souls, sex toys weaken the power of this encounter. “
She adds: “The trend in society is that there is increasing freedom with regards to sexual practices, orientation, habits and desires. Pornography as a sex toy is also used by some as a stimulant. In such cases, the result is dullness and boredom, which in turn leads to the search for stronger stimuli and more blatant aid forms. Those involved become caught up and are deprived of true sexuality in a normal situation.
“It is like a door to temptation”
Juané, a Marriage Capsule member, and her husband are both opposed to using sex toys. “First of all, from a Christian point of view, the Father gave husband and woman to each other. He also instructed us not to give in to temptation. Temptation usually comes in through a door that was deliberately left open. It may start out as innocent fun for many people… until it’s not enough anymore.
“My opinion is that it is like a drug. And that is precisely where the temptation door is opened up wide and pornography, strip clubs and who knows what else, start to emerge. So, my advice is to enjoy each other and find precious love. I don’t think sexy underwear, however, has such a big influence. After all you want to look good for your husband. And it only stays on for a while, not so? I just think that, as soon as you become dependent on something, it may have to be viewed in a different light,” says Juané.
René, a visitor on Gretha Wiid’s Facebook page, comments: “I don’t believe there were vibrators and toys in Paradise and my husband is all I need, thank you. A husband and wife make a covenant with God every time they have sex, and where does plastic toys fit in with that?” Although on the other hand, people might argue that there was also no Lindt chocolate and bubble bath in Paradise, but that we have the opportunity to enjoy these little pleasures today!
“You’re not making love to your husband”
Sheila Wray Gregoire, author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex, is equally opposed to sex toys. According to her, sex toys emphasize physical intimacy over spiritual or emotional intimacy. She is worried that people will become too dependent on sex toys and the pursuit of an orgasm rather than the expression of love. She also believes that many (although not all) sex toys are a form of masturbation. Even if your husband uses the sex toys on you, he is not the one you are making love to, she believes.
Some people end up using sex toys so much that it is no longer their partner, but rather the toy that makes them feel good. When you start relying too much on sex toys, you lose the closeness that sex can possibly bring. Sex is not supposed to be just about one person, it is supposed to be mutual, Sheila says.
She also believes that sex toys can have the same effect as pornography, by recreating body parts that create unrealistic expectations and which can ultimately result in your spouse no longer being “good enough” or sufficient to satisfy your needs.
YES! Sex toys saved my marriage
About eight months after she got married, *Charmaine Williams discovered with a shock that she had Vaginismus. Sex with her husband was almost impossible – every attempt was more painful than the one before. Her husband tried his best to be supportive, but Charmaine was terrified that her marriage would eventually break up because their sex life was limited to mutual masturbation.
She eventually gathered the courage to visit a gynecologist. Although she was relieved to receive a diagnosis, she also realized that it would take time before she would ever be able to have “normal” sex.
“One of the suggestions made by my therapist was to use sex toys to ‘train’ myself for sex,” Charmaine says. “I was really terrified of sex because I didn’t want to experience that pain again. Using a vibrator, I was able to discover myself bit for bit without feeling traumatized.”
Charmaine and her husband now incorporate various battery-powered devices into their routine to relieve the pressure of penetration. “It is no fun for any newly married couple to struggle with sexual problems – what a disillusionment!” says Charmaine. “I even told my husband, after a painful session one night, that I would understand if he didn’t want me anymore, because I felt like half a woman. However, thanks to sex toys, we can now sexually interact with each other. It saved my marriage!”
“A vibrator can be an aid”
Dr Ettiene Kok, a sexologist and urologist from Pretoria, points out that a distinction must be made between sexual aids and toys. An item used by one person simply for kicks, may mean the difference between an orgasm or no pleasure at all for another person.
“In my book, a vibrator is not a toy, but rather an enhancer that can help many women discover themselves and their own sexuality, but it can also be used together, as part of the game of love and the process of making love,” says Ettiene. “It is from this point of view that I would suggest to a person in therapy or a couple to purchase and use a vibrator. The same goes for the use of lubricants.”
But where does one draw the line? Are beautiful underwear, feathers and chocolates not also toys? “Soft” toys such as chocolate, body paint, feathers and so on can help to spice up people’s sex lives. “Here, the biggest stimulus doesn’t come from the toys anyway, but rather from a good relationship with respect, trust, openness, communication and “I like you”-feelings!” says Ettiene.
What about “hard/rough” toys such as handcuffs and whips? “I don’t think there are room for these in a marriage,” he says. “For me it is on the same level as sadomasochism and the Fifty Shades of Grey idea, with which I have a big problem. Things that hurt and cause pain are not supposed to be erotic!”
“If it leads to mutual enjoyment, why not?”
According to Dr Johan Nel, a pastoral therapist from Bloemfontein, there is not much written in the Bible about sex toys. Song of Songs does however lead us to understand what an essential and enjoyable ingredient a good sexual relationship is within marriage. Beautiful and sensual underwear/sleepwear is acceptable within the limited space of spouses’ love game. So are aromatic massage oils and scented candles.
“It is good to feel sexy – it builds self-confidence and self-esteem. If it can contribute to mutual enjoyment, it can’t hurt,” he says. Johan also agrees that vibrators fall in a grey area when it comes to the distinction between a tool and a toy.
“A vibrator is sometimes more functional than erotic, as it is a tool for people who find it difficult to get an orgasm. Its use is common, and it is often recommended by sexologists and therapists. There are situations where penetration cannot occur, and then a vibrator is very useful. It is also helpful in cases where the woman, for example, takes longer to reach climax. As long as the partners focus on closeness, romance and mutual considerate action to deepen the relationship, there is my view, no problem.”
“It can be part of a Christian marriage”
The website themarriagebed.com, aimed at married Christian couples, interprets the term “sex toys” as a poor description for items that enhance sex. “Anything that is not part of our bodies, and which we use to improve sex, can be deemed an item that enhances sex. In Proverbs 7, the Bible mentions herbs and special sheets to make sex more enjoyable.”
Similarly, there are also items that can be used today to make sex more enjoyable for a Christian couple, they say. These include “tame” aids, such as satin sheets, scented candles, mirrors and lubricants. Then, for the more adventurous couples, there are fragrant powders and oils, such as honey and chocolate. Underwear also fits in this category. The website argues that the Bible does not forbid sexual aids like these and they can therefore form part of a loving sex life within the boundaries of marriage.
“But these items can also be the source of distraction, arguments and hard feelings. Many Christians are still struggling with the rules and restrictions they learnt in the past and sexual items may make them feel confused or uncomfortable.” The most important thing for you and your partner is to agree on using aids and not push the other one if he/she is uncomfortable with it.
Johan agrees with this last point and says that toys can become a problem if, for example, the man insists that his wife satisfies herself with the vibrator because it is exciting for him, but she does not like it. “Or if one mate wants the other to use the vibrator anally while there is no agreement. Here it comes down to a lack of love and sex that blurs to a mere act.”
He warns that any Fifty Shades of Grey-type toys rather not belong in marriage. “The Bible rates the love game, with the emphasis on love, very high, in fact, it is said that one should not unnecessarily refuse each other intercourse. Where’s the problem with rough toys? Some of the practices become violent, and that is not the intention of the gift of sex.”
The term “sex toys” is not limited to only dildos and vibrators. According to sexologist, Elmari Mulder-Craig, the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey has led to the sales of sexual aids, especially vibrators, increase threefold. “Sexual aids include lubricants, vibrators and penis rings, among others. Also remember that your whole house is full of sexual toys, such as velvet items, silk scarves, cream, massage oils and more.”
According to Mohamed, a salesman at Adult World in Vredenburg in the Western Cape, poppers and erection pills are their best sellers. A vibrator that stimulates the clitoris is the most popular item among married people. “Married couples usually visit the store together looking for something to spice up their marriage.”
Who buys sex toys?
Michael Brauer, of a company selling sex aids online, estimates that at least 50% of their clients are couples. “We can see in the nature of an order whether it is a couple buying. For example, they buy items for both her and him (in other words, a bit of everything), or the husband buys something for his wife – the order is placed by a man, but it’s a vibrator or lingerie, usually a gift from him to her. We have realized that many couples together search for what they want online,” Michael adds. “Then it is most often the man who places the order (and pays for it!).
“We often get inquiries about what couple’s toys are recommended. We have a whole range of toys specifically designed for couples. Couples usually start with items that they can use during foreplay. If they like it (which is almost always the case!), they try out other things as well. We have couples who have been buying from us for years and regularly try something new. It’s wonderful that people are realising more and more that sex and fun go together.”
Michael says that vibrators remain the most popular item. The sales of sex toys among couples are certainly rising. “People are becoming increasingly ‘open-minded’ and the Fifty Shades of Grey books have also helped to break down stigmas. “
What can you do to stay safe?
Elmari says: “Buy a good quality vibrator recommended by a sexologist. Visit the leading sexologists’ websites in South Africa for guidelines. But when one of the lovers prefers using a sexual aid rather than being intimate with his or her partner, the alarms should sound. This probably indicates underlying dynamics in the relationship that need to be dealt with. Communicate about this. It is not true that you will never again be able to reach an orgasm naturally once you have become used to a vibrator. One can certainly not get addicted to it either.”
- There is no recipe that works for everyone. We all have different needs and preferences. Sexual aids are not a prerequisite for good or interesting sex.
- Ultimately, the love game is about intimacy, sensuality and mutual satisfaction. A vibrator is just a sexual aid.
- As a woman, you do not have to be ashamed for using a vibrator. You are part of the only species on earth with a clitoris, which consists of about 8 000 nerve endings and which was created exclusively for sexual pleasure.
- Make sure that you know what each one’s likes and dislikes are, and respect your partner’s boundaries at all times.
Additional sources: facebook.com and tolovehonorandvacuum.com.
Live a grateful marriage. This is how…
Some experts believe that there is immense value in keeping a “gratitude” journal. Not only can this enrich your life, but it can change your mindset in such a way that your whole being benefits from it. Did you know that living a life of gratitude within your marriage can also bless you abundantly?
“I am so tired of his impulsiveness,” Elaine complained. Her husband, John, was one of the most exciting and unpredictable people in others’ eyes, but one could see that she was tired – emotionally utterly exhausted.
Early in their relationship, on a random Tuesday, he decided that he wanted to go and show Elaine the Eiffel Tower – and the next day, they were on their way. Another time, during his lunch hour, he walked past a jewelry shop where he saw a very beautiful ring, which he bought on the spot and that very same night, he asked Elaine to marry him. Even their wedding day was an impromptu affair – just three weeks after he asked the big question, they got married on the beach… barefoot. To outsiders, it looked like one of the most romantic marriages ever.
But John’s impulsivity was taking its toll on Elaine, whose nature is not impulsive at all. That morning, things just became too much for her to bear. “Our finances worry me – he makes impulsive purchases and then the items just gather dust in our garage. In addition, last night he decided to quit his job and start building a 3D printer. I never know what crazy idea he will have next.”
Elaine’s concern was justified, but one thing was certain – she would never change John. Deep down, she knew that, and one day, a close friend reminded her about something very important: “Elaine, do you remember that day when you and Gerald (her former boyfriend) were together for about a year? You came to me, being very unhappy, and you opened your heart. You told me at the time that that you know Gerald was your parents’ ideal son-in-law, but that you could never marry him. He was a perfectionist and his entire life was planned to the finest detail. John knocked your feet out from under you…”
And that is when Elaine had a light-bulb moment. She was focused on the bad instead of the good.
The value of gratitude
Gratitude is one of the most important ingredients for a successful marriage. In the early days of your relationship, you appreciated each other with gratitude, but over time, it is easy to start taking each other for granted. We then become blind to our partner’s good traits and only focus on the things that bother us.
A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, entitled “Have You Thanked Your Spouse Today? – Felt and Expressed Gratitude Among Married Couples” involved couples that were married on average twenty years. It was found that if one partner is deeply grateful for the positive aspects regarding their spouse, or their marriage, they also experienced higher satisfaction within their marriage. Individuals that had higher levels of gratitude was also happier with their marriages. And where one partner actually expressed their gratitude, the other partner also showed more gratitude, without even being aware of the other partner’s specific opinion.
Dr Cameron Gordon, lead researcher of this study, labels gratitude as a positive characteristic, saying: “To create something positive in a marriage is very different from removing something negative. Negativity in marriage leads to the relationship eroding, but we actually know little about the effect of positivity on the maintenance of a marriage.”
This is true, and gratitude indeed leads to laughter, fun, grace and a better understanding of each other.
In another study, published in the journal Personal Relationships, researchers from the University of George interviewed a total of 468 married couples and questioned them about finance, communication strategies and how they expressed gratitude towards their partners. Again, it was found that gratitude remarkably indicated marriage quality. Couples who showed gratitude towards one another was also less likely to divorce. Feeling appreciated has a huge impact on how a person feels about his/her marriage and the individual’s dedication to make it work.
Co-author of the study, Ted Futris, says that all couples disagree and argue. “What distinguishes the marriages that last, from those that don’t, is not how much the spouses argue, but rather HOW they argue and how they treat each other on a daily basis.”
The study also found that financial stress can negatively affect marriages, but that, just by expressing appreciation for one another, this stress can be relieved. “When couples are worried about how to make ends meet, they are more likely to act in negative ways – they are more critical and defensive towards each other and can even stop talking to each other and withdraw, which then results in a lower quality marriage,” says Ted. “Gratitude, however, can break this cycle and help couples overcome negative communication patterns in their relationship, patterns which could be the result of current stress factors.”
It is not always easy to live with gratitude. Sometimes we simply don’t feel grateful and other times life is just moving too fast to focus on gratitude. But in a New York Times article, entitled Choose to be Grateful. It will Make You Happier, Arthur C. Brooks wrote that choosing gratitude can make us feel even more thankful. This is due to the fact that when we express gratitude, our brains release chemicals that reduces our stress, and make us more grateful.
In his research center, marriage expert, Dr John Gottman, also discovered that successful couples have created a culture of kindness and deliberately strive to view each other in a good light.
Habits of gratitude can start small, and in his article, Arthur writes that one should practice internal gratitude, external gratitude and then finally, gratitude for trivial things. The latter is the easiest. Being thankful for his smile, for the coffee that she woke you up with, gratitude for his warm breath in your neck on a cold night…
How do you do it?
- Be intentionally grateful.
Become more aware of the things that you appreciate about your partner and change your mindset. Instead of thinking that it is your partner’s job to do something wonderful so that you can feel grateful about it, rather see it as your responsibility to look out for something to be grateful for.
- Be generous and selfless.
Do something for your partner without them having to ask and without making a fuss about it. Have new tires fitted to her car, but don’t expect her to praise you for it. Pull the weeds out of his favorite flower bed without expecting thanks.
- Recognize and appreciate the intention and effort.
Sometimes things just don’t work out. He might have tried his best to prepare a “MasterChef” meal for your, but it had failed miserably. Respond kindly, for example by saying: “Don’t worry at all. I really appreciate what you did for me.”
- Be creative when you express gratitude.
Don’t just use the words “thank you” every time. Learn how say it in different ways. For example, say “I appreciate you”, or “I am so grateful for…” or “May you be blessed for this…”.
- Show your appreciation.
Use your body language and reaction to show your partner how much you value him/her. In the study led by Dr Cameron Gordon, it clearly emerged that couples who appreciate each other, apply active listening. When one partner is talking, the other one is clearly listening and processing what is being said (this is a way of showing your partner that you value his/her opinion).
- Make a conscious effort.
Set aside some time every day during which you pay specific attention to what is going on in your spouse’s life. Listen attentively when you ask him/her about their day.
- Focus every day on things that make your marriage work.
We are so inclined to complain about things that does not work. Make it a daily habit to move your focus to the positives and over time it will become easier to maintain this habit.
- Occasionally, express your gratitude in public.
Sometimes even the most confident of people feel insecure in public. Firstly, at home, make sure that your partner knows how grateful you are. But also make sure that he/she knows this when you are among other people.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
Write something in your journal every day and devote a specific section, for example the top right block on each page, to your marriage. In that block, write one thing about your partner that you are grateful for every day.
- The 60 Second Blessing.
Think about what you can tell your partner every day to encourage him/her. Then take one full minute (without any distractions), look your partner in the eyes and speak life. It is amazing what a simple compliment can do to make love grow. On the blog “marriage363.org”, Heather Christy wrote about one of the turning points in her marriage – when she and her partner learned about the power of speaking words of encouragement over each other.
If something as simple as a mindset, words of encouragement or gratitude can make such a big difference in your marriage, why not seize the opportunity immediately? Live a marriage of gratitude and experience change in your relationship from today onward.
Do you only vaguely remember the vapor against the back window of his orange VW Beetle and that time your limbs performed acrobatic tricks you didn’t think were possible? Then it is time to once again close the bedroom door behind you… and let your imagination run wild!
Here are a few ideas to step out of your comfort zone:
- Book a hotel room and send a WhatsApp message to your partner to meet you there over lunchtime. Or plan an evening away for the two of you. Dress up and pretend that you are meeting each other in secret. Arrive separately and rip the clothes off each other!
- Sex on the kitchen table. You have most probably have heard of this one, but have you tried it yet? While busy in the kitchen, call him to come and help with something and wait for him wearing just your apron. If you really want to be dramatic, he can wipe everything off the table top before lifting you on there.
- In a swimming pool. Go away for the weekend to a holiday resort where there is a steaming hot pool. If entry is prohibited, however, rather don’t risk it. If you have a swimming pool at home, it can still be just as adventurous as you sneak out so that the kids don’t hear about your midnight escapades in the pool.
- On the boardroom table at work! If hubby has to work late, let him know that you will pop in quickly to say hello. Just make sure that no one else is working late. Put on your sexiest underwear underneath a big coat and surprise him. During Monday’s meeting he will definitely picture you on that very same table.
- When no one else is home, offer to help him wash the car. Park the car in the back yard, put on a white T-shirt and a bikini bottom and start washing. The result? Sex on the hood of his car – guaranteed!
- Ask for his help with the laundry and when you get to the washing machine, switch it on to start a load. Then get on top of the machine and pull him close…
- In the cold winter months, very few things beat sex in front of the fireplace. Put on some romantic music, light a few candles, open a bottle of red wine and place a soft carpet or blanket in front of the fire. Invite him to join you and one thing will most definitely lead to the next…
- When visiting his parents’ house, pay close attention to his every move. A few minutes after he excuses himself to go to the bathroom, get up from the table and wait for him outside the door. Surprise him with a passionate kiss and lead him into his old bedroom as a child.
- A weekend in the countryside can get very exciting. When visiting friends who live on a farm, go for a walk – just the two of you. Secretly run to the barn and throw your clothes over a haystack. Get down right there, but beware of sharp straw hems.
- Dune sex is a hit! When on holiday at the coast, go for a walk along the beach and lead him away from the water, into the dunes. As long as the wind isn’t blowing too strongly, you can have amazing sex between the dunes, without anyone seeing you, and with the sound of the waves in your ears and the sun on your naked skin.
- In a treehouse. When the kids are away one weekend, you can do it Tarzan-and-Jane-style. Break into the kids’ treehouse and go wild amongst the branches.
- Go shopping together for clothes. Take a few items with you to the changing room as if you are going to fit them. Hubby should stay close, perhaps checking out some woman’s underwear in the meantime. Call the assistant to bring you a different size of a certain item and once she is gone, hubby can sneak in. Slip into another cubicle and get it on with mirrors all around.
- When going camping, the possibilities are endless. Go for a walk and as long as the route is safe, you can wander off the trail and look for a spot where you can lie down between the ferns. You can also have sex against the walls of a cave or in a mountain pool. In the evenings the tent is available, but if you are alone, a spot next to the open fire is even better.
- Have you ever had sex in a rocking chair? There are people who claim that it is the best moving sex that one can have. If it is one of your fantasies to have sex while you and your partner are moving, you can also try it on a swing, a merry-go-round or a hammock.
- Sex in the back row at the movies is also a popular, but risky option. Buy tickets for the late-night show in the middle of the week, when it is unlikely that there would be many other people. Pick a romantic movie so that you have an appropriate backtrack to set the mood and one where hubby won’t move you aside to watch the end!
- In the sauna. For a warm, sweaty experience, don’t let the opportunity pass by to enjoy a sauna together. Sitting in a sauna is boring, hot and you only have towels around your bodies. Pretend that you are sitting somewhere exotic in a log cabin and there are long benches. Your bodies are so sweaty that you are slippery enough to slide around. And ladies, just think about all the calories that you will burn by combining a sauna session with a good round of sex!
- Visit a library – the bigger the better. A university library is a good idea to remind you about the carefree days when you could make out non-stop for 24 hours! Leave a note in his shirt pocket to meet you in the English Literature or Biology section. Then read a passionate Shakespeare piece or inspect a biology sketch of the human body before you bring those words and images to life between the bookshelves.
- Sex in the bathroom can also have many variations. Do it on the edge of the bath, in a tub with bubble bath, under the shower or quite simply flat on the bathroom tiles.
- On the stairs. There are few things so romantic as when a man carries his wife up the stairs to the bedroom. However, it is not even necessary to reach the bedroom. The railing and the fact that the stairs are at different heights create many opportunities for all kinds of interesting positions.
- The Mile-High Club is the phrase used to associate people who have had sex on a plane. If you have ever noticed people leaving the restroom cubicle on a plane at the same time, or shortly after one another, they are probably now members of the Mile-High Club… Maybe you should try.
The list really is endless. Any space that is big enough for two, is good enough for sex! Make a memory in each room of the house so that you can relive the remembrance of your passion time and again. And have sex in as many places as you dare. Whenever you revisit those spots, you will share a mysterious smile of which only you two know the meaning.
Believe it or not – these are also 20 tried and tested sex hot-spots:
- In a helicopter
- On a motorbike
- In a public restroom
- In a jacuzzi
- On a trampoline
- Under a rainbow
- In a field
- On a jungle gym
- On a balcony
- On the deck of a ship
- In a hot air balloon
- On the back of a horse
- While sailing in a canoe
- Next to a Christmas tree
- On a merry-go-round
- While scuba diving
- In the restroom at a restaurant
- On the wet grass under the full moon
- On the house’s roof
- Barefoot (and bareback) in the rain
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Are you roommates?
Every great marriage is rooted in a deep friendship, but what happens when you and your partner suddenly realise that you’re living as roommates instead of a married couple?
“Anton and I were always the best of friends. We could talk about anything under the sun for hours and we loved having a good conversation over a bottle of red wine. I used to think this was one of our marriage’s strengths, until I was watching a TV episode about roommates and realised that Anton and I were exactly the same as the roommates! The problem was that they shared an apartment and not much else,” says Danielle about her marriage.
“To my shock and dismay, I realised that I had been so focused on our friendship that our relationship was faltering. The romance and passion was gone – it was like it had somehow disappeared overnight.”
Danielle spoke to Anton about it and learned that the situation had been bothering him for quite some time, too. They decided they need to turn the situation around immediately and they were able to succesfully transform their roommate status back to one of husband and wife.
How does it happen?
Children arrive on the scene and bills pile up. So much time and energy gets dedicated to other responsibilities that intimacy falls to the wayside. Couples start taking their marriages for granted and believe that love will be enough to sustain the partnership in the long run. When this happens, partners stop really communicating with each other – they just tick the most important items off their to-do list. Sooner rather than later, they stop connecting emotionally.
Sometimes a marriage can seem so “normal” on the surface level that a couple thinks they’re in a good place because there’s no obvious drama or conflict. A rude awakening can happen when one (or both) partners wake up one morning and realise that they’re bored! According to Pepper Schwartz, a professor is sociology and psychology as well as author of Prime: Adventures and advice about sex, love and the sensual years, this can create a lot of distance between partners.
A couple in this situation can be the envy of their colleagues and friends because from the outside, it looks like a highly functional relationship. However, while the partners accept the responsibilities that go along with being married, they don’t get to experience any of the benefits. They don’t feel loved and the emotional intimacy is gone. So many couples start out as soul mates and best friends, only to turn into roommates who are consciously or subconsciously resentful towards each other.
How do you know you are moving into the danger zone?
- You use the kids as an excuse. There’s never any time for your husband because you have children and their needs and activities come first. You’re crumbling under all the kids’ responsibilities but you believe that you will be able to divert your attention back onto your husband again one day, probably when the kids have left the nest.
- You don’t spend time together anymore. Roommates don’t feel it’s necessary to spend quality time together because they see each other at home. This leads you to take turns babysitting so that you can attend your book club and so hubby can have a boys’ night out.
- You keep your hands to yourself. Roommates don’t touch each other. They don’t hug, kiss or hold hands. Maybe you feel like the kids are on top of you all day and you need a bit of personal space once they are in bed.
- You’ve forgotten how to flirt! There simply isn’t time for flirting. You don’t even laugh when he tells his old Dad Jokes… you’ve heard it so many times!
- You don’t sleep in the same bed. Maybe you’re sharing the bed with your little princess. Or your husband sleeps with Fido. Roommates don’t sleep together and regardless of the reason (he snores, it’s too hot), this forespells danger.
- You don’t make an effort. Due to all the abovementioned reasons, you’re not really in the mood for sex so you’ve decided your husband doesn’t need it, either. You wear your oldest sweatpants to bed and parade around in a green face mask in front of him.
- You keep your wallets to yourselves. Roommates don’t share money and you don’t want someone checking up on you when you want to splurge on that new bottle of perfume. Each of you has a separate bank account and credit card. For some couples, this financial strategy works well. For others, it creates a divide.
What do you do?
- Be realistic. You can have great sex again, but all nighters might be a bit unrealistic if your youngest pops into your bedroom three times a night and your husband has to give a big presentation the following morning.
- Schedule sex. Discuss your schedules and needs, then set time aside for sex. It might not be the hanging-from-the-chandeliers type of sex, but don’t stop doing it. Sex isn’t optional.
- Create intimacy. Save information to share with your partner exclusively. Marriage is about the union between a husband and wife. If one or both of you shares your most private thoughts and dreams with someone outside of the marriage, then the intimacy between the two of you isn’t being valued highly enough.
- Do something exciting. Don’t let boredom get you down. Take a cooking class or a surfing lesson together. Make sure there is at least one hobby that the both of you share. Embarking on a new adventure together will give you focus (and it’s good for your sex life!)
- Discuss things that matter. Forget about shallow conversations topics for a while (“How was your day?”, “Do you want a cup of coffee?”) and focus on having deeper conversations. Create a ritual for the two of you, such as taking a 20-minute walk together in the afternoons when you can chat. Ask each other a meaningful question during those 20 minutes, like: “If you had to pick one goal to achieve before you turn 60, what would it be?”
You can be the best of friends and super comfortable around each other, but what sets your marriage apart from the relationships you have with friends is the type of intimacy that is shared between two people who are married. Be conscious about these issues and make sure that your partner feels like more than just a roommate!
Have you and your partner lost your connection? Maybe you’re just stuck in a rut after picking up a few bad habits. Reconnect with your partner by establishing a new, strong connection. Here is how to do it:
To reconnect emotionally:
- Don’t let the gap between the two of you grow larger. It’s normal to feel a bit disconnected from your partner during our fast-paced lives and it’s understandable that you want a bit of space after the two of you had a fight, but don’t withdraw.
- Know how, when and where to show remorse. Did you give your partner harsh criticism or forget her birthday? Say that you are sorry. If apologizing is hard for you, tell your partner that you are feeling remorse and that you are struggling with a feeling of regret. This way, your partner will know that you are feeling remorseful.
- Don’t use dangerous fighting tactics. If you’re feeling compelled to threaten or blame your partner, or to set an ultimatum, don’t act on it. These are negative emotions that will have a damaging outcome on your relationship instead of a good outcome.
To reconnect spiritually:
- Discuss the intense topics and questions! Start a conversation about why you think you are on earth, what you think God’s plan is with your marriage, what the Afterlife looks like, and about your prayers that have already been answered by God. Don’t be afraid of having an intense conversation – not only could it give you new insights about your faith, but it can also help you to get a new perspective on your partner’s ideas and outlook on life.
- Embrace faith when you are going down the wrong road. On com, Tiffany Fletcher writes: “Many times we get derailed because we have forgotten where we are going. Our destination is muddled because our purpose for continuing is unclear. When we embrace faith, with it comes knowledge of why we are here and where we are going. We gain a clearer understanding of God’s purpose for our life and what we can do to better fulfill his plan for us.”
- Be graceful towards your partner. Remember that you are two individuals and each of you is on his or her own spiritual journey. Maybe the two of you are not feeling the same regarding your faith. In the same way that God shows mercy towards you, you need to also be merciful and forgiving towards your partner. Be patient and understanding.
To reconnect intellectually:
- When was the last time that you talked about the future? The future that you used to muse about may have already arrived and it could look vastly different from the picture you had painted for yourselves. Make time to sit down in a coffee shop with your partner and discuss your health, educational, career, business, financial and political goals for the year ahead.
- Set aside time to talk to your partner, and ask him or her the following questions:
- What do you think would be a good investment for our marriage?
- What do you love about our marriage?
- What do you think is better than earth-shattering sex in a marriage?
- Stay curious about your partner. Forget the everyday questions like “How was your day?”, and ask open-ended questions that require a bit more thought, such as:
- What did you do today that you really enjoyed?
- How are things going with your team at work?
- What do you think of Lisa and Ken’s decision to immigrate to New Zealand?
- How do you think so-and-so’s fraud case is going to pan out?
- Show your partner that you are really interested in him or her.
To reconnect physically:
For you and your partner to reconnect physically, you need to spend time together and be completely present.
- Give each other proper massages. Learn how to appreciate the value of a sensual massage, but make it an act of love and service as opposed to a means to an end.
- Sleep naked. A recent study showed that couples who sleep naked have a more satisfying sex life. Even if there is no physical touching throughout the night, the skin-on-skin contact is good for you on an emotional level.
- Be sensitive towards your partner’s needs for physical affection. Remember that not everyone requires or wants the same level or amount of physical touch. While some people flourish on physical closeness, others feel ‘overstimulated’ by too much touching. You don’t need to be holding hands, hugging and kissing to be physically close. Body language like the tone of your voice or certain facial expressions, such as a secret smile, can also help you to connect with your partner on a physical level.
To reconnect sexually:
- To establish a newfound sexual connection, start by flirting. Maybe you haven’t flirted for so long that it makes you uncomfortable, but the more you practice the better you will get at it.
- Initiate sex if you’re not the one who usually initiates it. By initiating sex, you are showing your partner that you are willing to make yourself vulnerable to be intimate with him or her. You will also be communicating that you desire your partner, and everyone wants to be desired.
- Give your partner a spoil session. This means that you take turns giving each other pleasure for a period (such as half an hour or an hour) without expecting anything in return. According to relationship coach Jordan Gray, this will help you to practice being selfless while it simultaneously teaches you to ask for what you want.
Being disconnected from your partner can be the catalyst to a growing sense of panic within you, but know that the situation can be reversed. To reconnect with your partner requires mostly small gestures that are born out of bravery to make big changes within your relationship. Start fresh – your marriage deserves it.
Additional sources: www.crosswalk.com, www.psychologytoday.com, www.hitchedmag.com, ourpeacefulfamily.com and “Emotional intimacy: A comprehensive guide for connecting with the power of your emotions” by Robert Augustus Masters.