By Scott Means, Your Tango 5/16/12.
Want to heat up your bond? Start cultivating passion in your marriage with these few easy steps.
Would you describe your marriage as being full of passion? Would you like it to be?
Whether you are newly married or, like my wife and me, have been married for 30 years, let me assure you that a passionate marriage is not only possible but is well within your reach.
What is passion, exactly? Passion is simply a prevailing presence of powerful positive emotions. Going way beyond a steamy sex life, a passionate marriage is one in which there is an underlying sense of excitement and fervor; one that is full of intensity, joyfulness and unbridled enthusiasm in both sexual and non-sexual dimensions of your relationship.
How do you stir up and keep passion alive? It starts with desire. You have to want it. You have to be deliberate about going after a passionate, intimate marriage, and be willing to do whatever it takes to reach that goal. Engaging your heart fully in the joyful pursuit of a passionate marriage is the first step toward attaining it.
Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s all great, but what can I actually do to grow or renew the passion in my marriage?”
I’ve come up with four key ways to pump up the passion in any relationship. Share them with your spouse, and give them a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and rewarded by the outcome.
1) Pursuit. Never stop pursuing your husband or wife. Men, let me clue you in: relentlessly pestering your wife for sex does not constitute pursuit—at least not when it comes to most wives I’m aware of. Ladies, you know that you want to be pursued by your husband regardless of how long you’ve been married (and perhaps even more so the longer you are married), but did you know that your husband also wants to be pursued?
However, there is a difference between the way men and women define pursuit. Pursuit, to most men, means feeling desired (ladies, read that as “sex”) and affirmed through respect and appreciation. Most women, on the other hand, are more likely to want to be pursued through time, attention and tender affection (guys, read that as “romance”).
-Write a love letter, but write the kind of letter that your spouse would want, which may not necessarily be one you would want to receive. Ask yourself, “What would best say ‘I love you’ to him or her?”
-Plan a date that revolves around something your spouse enjoys. Surprise your husband with tickets to his favorite sporting event, or your wife with concert or show tickets. Hint: it looks more like pursuit if it isn’t something you would normally pick out for yourself.
-Bring home a small gift out of the blue, for no occasion in particular.
-Initiate sex in a creative way, especially if your spouse is the one who does most of the initiating.
2) Playfulness. When was the last time you did something with the purposeful intention of just having fun together? Can you recall the last time you laughed together? Do you ever try something new or exciting just because you wanted to add a little spice to your relationships? You can help keep passion alive by occasionally being playful or adventurous and stepping outside your normal routine. Routine squashes passion. Raise the passion level in your marriage with a little wonder, a splash of creativity or an occasional dose of excitement.
-See a funny movie together, or take in a comedy show.
-Pick a new restaurant at random (there are some great smartphone apps for doing just that).
-Have sex in a new location or position.
-Plan a surprise overnight getaway and kidnap your husband or wife without warning.
-Check into a hotel for an afternoon rendezvous.
-Let your hair down and get silly: have a pillow fight or a tickle war.
3) Positivity. A daily dose of genuine thankfulness can work wonders for keeping passion alive. It is easy and natural to focus on what annoys you about your wife or husband or on what he or she is not doing that you think they should, but it’s almost impossible for passion and intimacy to coexist with such negativity. It is a total passion-killer for both of you. The best way to fight off those negative thoughts is to develop a habit of being grateful and appreciative. It’s not enough just to avoid speaking and thinking negatively. You also need to guard against taking the good parts of your marriage for granted, which tends to happen over time. Make it a point to voice your thanks and appreciation, out loud and frequently, both to your spouse and to others.
-Let your spouse know how much you desire them by being generous with compliments about their physical appearance. (Hint for husbands: your wife is likely in a serious body-image battle, even if you think she has no reason to be.)
-Thank each other specifically for routine responsibilities, such as cooking, yard work, laundry, auto care, driving the kids, etc.
-Keep a running list (perhaps on your phone, journal or computer) of things you are thankful for about your spouse and your marriage, and then make it a habit to communicate your gratitude regularly.
-Mix up the ways you let them know how much you appreciate them: in person, via text, handwritten note, phone message or social media.
4) Pleasure. Pleasure and passion go hand in hand, starting with the pleasure you find in each other’s arms. Make sure that physical intimacy is a priority in your relationship, and don’t settle for anything less than a passionate sex life. That means saving time and energy for each other and not leaving your spouse with whatever is left over after you take care of everything else in your crazy-busy life.
Take time for you, too. Keep your own pleasure tank full by making time daily to do at least one thing you find pleasurable (reading, being outside, sipping a cup of tea, listening to music—whatever feeds your soul). Seek pleasure by learning to enjoy the process of doing the things on your over-packed to-do list. Enjoy more than just the relief of being done with them. Be watchful over your own pleasure for a happier relationship, and make sure your spouse is purposefully seeking out pleasure. Be proactive about purposefully delighting him or her. Discovering Your Couple Sexual Style: Sharing Desire, Pleasure, and Satisfaction
-Set aside time for sexual intimacy at least every week (more, if possible).
-Give your spouse a full body massage or a neck or foot rub.
-Take a bath together, if you have a tub that can accommodate you both.
-Go to a spa for a couple’s massage.
-Get to know your spouse’s favorite treats and snacks, and surprise him or her with them periodically.
Passion doesn’t work like turning on a switch. It has to be cultivated and nurturedover the long term. If you are willing to pay attention to pursuit, playfulness, positivity and pleasure in your relationship, passion is the payoff!