...that have nothing to do with sex
There are many reasons for sex to dwindle in an intimate relationship. Stress, busyness, no privacy, age-related hormonal changes, health issues, etc. Come to think of it, my partner and I had been in a long-distance relationship for four years before we got married. First halfway across the country and then halfway across the world!
That got me thinking — what makes a relationship thrive other than mind-blowing sex?!
I looked at some of the successful couples I know across ages and race and noticed a pattern.
Here are some of my observations:
A. Being intimate without having sex: Touch does not necessarily have to be sexual. It can be kind, caring, soothing and compassionate. Holding hands, or locking toes (as we do) while watching TV, quick kisses, hugs, embraces all are good examples. Don’t let people tell you that you are gross for liking and hugging your spouse.
B. Praising and thanking your spouse: Couples that respect and admire each other often verbally praise their spouse in private and in public. This can and should be done in the other person’s presence and absence. They need to know that you respect and admire them. The unsaid message is mutual respect among partners.
My husband and I thank each other for little things throughout the day. While writing this post, I asked him if he likes it when I say thank you. He said, “I like it a lot!”
C. Doing things together: And by this I mean, beyond watching TV together. Having things to do together is a great way of staying connected. Whether it is a physical activity, spiritual practice or a fun hobby, doing things together as a couple keeps you connected. Doing things with your children gets you closer as a family, and that’s great. But you also need to be connected as a human to your spouse. My husband and I go to church and practice yoga together. We have recently been in a Film Club together.
Cooking, socializing with friends, date nights, sports, etc., the world is your oyster! Find something both of you can explore and enjoy together and make it a ritual.
D. Sharing responsibilities: This means the actual emotional and physical load of bringing up children and household chores. Even if you have a stressful job, making time to share the load of the family is crucial and tells your partner that you care as much about your life together. This holds true even if you are the sole earner for your family.
My uncle was the CEO of a very large multinational company. He has been busy throughout his career holding many responsible, high-profile roles. Quite the jet-setter, my uncle. My aunt on the other hand has been a stay-at-home mom, taking care of their two boys. But, when I reflect on this family, I realized that my uncle has been a very present parent for their children. He comes from a small family, but my aunt comes from a large and close-knit family. He has made it a point to spend time with her family because it is important to her. And the cutest thing about them is their daily morning walks! They have been doing this for close to 28 years now.
E. Investing in your individual interests: I always knew that this is important, but a few years ago, I experienced the benefit of this in a much deeper way. I am an independent person in general, with a ton of individual interests — from volunteering to amateur photography. However, since my husband has a stressful job with a lot of travel, I let my schedule be more flexible. We both committed to spending our weekends together and declined opportunities to do things we love if the other person did not want to or wasn’t included!
In 2019, all of this changed in a big way! I spent almost every weekend at different yoga trainings and workshops. I enjoyed learning so much. My personal practice is stronger. My mood and overall perspective on life have elevated. My husband has spent time with some of his friends, doing things I don’t necessarily enjoy. He went on “boys” trips, skiing, golfing and watching cricket endlessly! We are both excited about what we’re doing and come back to share our joy with each other. When I see him relaxed and happy, and I am invigorated by something else at the same time, I feel blessed and happy.
In the summer of 2020, bang in the middle of the pandemic, my partner took up tennis again. He was a champ of sorts during his school and college years, and had been yearning to play. Eventually, with much coaxing from my end, he found a group online. I remember how much he enjoyed himself. A few times, he came home at 11 PM! He was like a different person.
I spent my time writing my book and taking online yoga classes or catching up with girlfriends over Zoom.
When both your cups are full, it is easier to stay in love.
Quote: Kahlil Gibran / Image: Quotefancy
F. Take an interest in your partner’s life: When I was teaching yoga, my husband came to every single class I taught! He gave me honest feedback about what he enjoyed and where he felt I may do better. It meant so much to me. My husband shares with me about the projects he is working on, challenges and opportunities for his team, and other similar aspects of his role. He also makes me listen to country music, which I grudgingly admit can be very soulful.
One of the complaints I hear often from clients or friends is that their spouses think their passions or work are not as important as their own. This could be a symptom of mismatched values or even inherent core beliefs!
Being on the same page as one's partner is sexier. Partners being happy in their individual lives is sexier. Spouses having fun together is sexier. Collaborating on projects is sexier.
If you have been having issues connecting with your partner, I invite you to try these simple ideas — talk about it openly with your significant other and get started!
Leave a comment with your ideas. Let’s talk about this.