– Originally published on DrKoop.com
Take two loving people with demanding jobs and divide them into a typical month filled with obligations, expectations, family, and friends, and you often find a couple who rarely find themselves in a relaxed and sensual environment enjoying passion and intimacy. How often do you and your spouse plan time together for the sole purpose of mutual enjoyment? If you are like the typical harried couple, the answer is often seldom or never.
Given the choice between sex and sleep, your exhaustion casts the deciding vote. Of course you care about your marriage and would love to enjoy an unhurried, indulgent interlude; you just can’t quite fit it into your schedule. And after all, you see each other daily, share all your news, and sleep in the same bed. What more is expected?
Why is it important?
In fact, it can be that same domestic comfort that can threaten or extinguish the desire and intrigue that glues a marriage together. Successful couples insist it is a matter of prioritizing. Busy lives require careful planning. Putting time for dating near the top of your list is life insurance for your marriage. Remember how, in the beginning, you thrilled at the sight of one another? Your time together was precious, decorated with dancing slippers and fireworks. You longed to see more of each other, never to be separated again. A few years later, perhaps, those dancing slippers become house slippers, and fireworks get translated into power bills. Somehow, you’ve become roommates. “Oh, well,” you shrug, “the honeymoon can’t last forever.”
And yet we know that long-term happy couples do retain some of that heat year after year. They do so by sustaining their courtship throughout their marriage, by dating even though they are mates. They tell us they design time to caress and explore one another, to laugh, and to luxuriate in the lust and love that initially drew them together. Each ‘date’ codifies the bond between them, supports and nourishes it, and guarantees the twinkle in the eye we sometimes glimpse when watching them interact.
Where do we find the time?
Regularity is the key. You may want to choose a particular weeknight and block it out in your daybooks as immutable. You may prefer a weekend morning, Sunday perhaps, when the phones and pagers can be shut off and you are inaccessible to the outside world. It takes a surprisingly short time before others realize that you are simply not available during this time. You set up for success, hiring the babysitter or delegating the duties on a regular, long-term basis. Your time together becomes inviolate and precious, stolen from your day-to-day existence because of its importance and value.
What do we do with this time?
The actual activities are not of much importance here. What matters is that you assign this time to luxuriate in your mutual regard, attraction, and passion for one another. You do not have to make love, but you will surely
want to create an environment in which sex can easily happen. Avoid discussing external issues and concentrate on your feelings for each other. This is your opportunity to appreciate and augment your bond, to revel in the good fortune of finding each other, to build and strengthen your alliance, to coalesce your physical, emotional, and mental connections.
As with any endeavor, practice makes perfect. You may feel a bit awkward at first, unsure of how you can decompress and move to a place of stressfree interaction. Preparing the environment is helpful. Light candles and incense, adjust the lighting, choose mood-setting music, warm some massage oil. Perhaps you will want to begin with a bath or shower, together. Make eye contact before you make skin contact. Coo and smile. Relax. The time is yours to experience as you wish. It is an opportunity to refuel your personal, as well as your interpersonal, resources. It will not be long before you wonder how you ever managed without these luxurious, restorative interludes.