Eighteen years ago, when I was dating my future husband, he walked into my apartment where I was in a heated political discussion with my senior thesis group. Spying his face, I pushed my books aside, leapt from my seat and rushed into his arms.
Contentment spread across his features as he sighed, “Wow, I hope you’ll always be that happy to see me.”
6,570 days, a half-dozen children and more crises than I can count, I am still madly in love with my husband. But he rarely gets that kind of greeting anymore.
Too many days, my beautiful hubby walks in from a day at the office and I am putting in laundry, stirring soup on the stove, wrangling with my youngest or (heaven forbid!) sitting right here at the computer. It would only take an instant to run into his arms, but more often than not, I miss that moment.
Driving home from BYU Women’s Conference several years ago, my friend, who was also my Relief Society President probed, “”How’s your marriage? I hope you are working on your sex life.”
I was stunned by her blunt question and quickly assured her that things were hot and passionate at my house, thank you very much. But she went on, “I’m glad. Too many young mothers neglect their husbands for the sake of their kids and their own personal life. You might think you can have a good marriage without a good sex life but it’s simply not possible. Sex and marriage walk hand-in-hand.”
Although I dismissed her advice, it occupied my thoughts for several weeks. We had a great marriage– but I was too busy for romance. At the time I had 4 little ones (I now have six) and my days were filled with their care and the endless list of motherhood demands. My husband’s unspoken desire for more of my time and attention felt like yet another responsibility on the to-do list.
But I love my husband (I married the guy, didn’t I?), so I consciously moved him to the top of the queue. I played love songs on the stereo, I listened to his political lectures, I whispered in his ear, “let’s work on getting the kids to bed a little earlier…”
Soon, he discovered the aphrodisiacal qualities of vacuuming and dancing in the kitchen and everything else in our marriage improved. Erik noted, “It’s not just that you are more interested in sex(although that’s good!), you’re simply more interested in me.”
Because he feels loved, appreciated, Mr.Beautiful is more willing to take part in the humdrum aspects of parenting and my mothering burden has become infinitely lighter. I love feeling like a newlywed, sneaking into the pantry for some serious kissing before dinner and finding new tunes for our “Romance” playlist. And I’ve become more satisfied with my post-post-post-post-post-post-partum body because hubby really doesn’t mind those extra pounds.
My house is now full of teenagers, so our marriage has an interested audience. I believe it’s good for my boys to see hugging, kissing and general affection (though not to the point of embarrassment); they know that a happy marriage strengthens the entire family. Not only does our own family benefit, but we are much more able to help the surrounding community as a united partnership.
Still, no matter our best efforts, happiness in marriage ebbs and flows. One week all is bliss and the next, a small catastrophe sends it spiraling downward. Sexual desire has the same ebb and flow. And there are many times, especially surrounding childbirth and illness, that sex is simply off the menu. At those times, it’s baklava, kindness and long conversations that see us through.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on intimacy. And please share your ideas for nourishing romance in the kitchen and the hallways of your life (we’ll keep the bedroom stuff private).
Ooh, and let me know your favorite love songs too– I’m always building that playlist.