On their 20th wedding anniversary, a couple stumbled into my shop Darling Way here in Houston, and asked me for help. Due to some financial hardships that had prevented them from throwing the big celebration they wanted, they were planning a “staycation” for their anniversary instead. After helping them find some fun things and talking to them about where their relationship was, I found they both were very open and free in their acknowledgement of how much they loved each other, how happy they were with their family and with the life they had built together. They were very proud that they had done everything that they thought they were “supposed to do.”
The only problem? Physical, sexual, romantic intimacy between them was lacking.
It wasn’t from a lack of desire from either party. It was from a sense of shame, guilt, worry, and even a little bit of resentment that had built up between them. Sadly, most of the negativity had little to do with the couple and lots to do with the world around us. This particular woman had a religious, small-town Texan upbringing, but the sense of taboo she felt about physical expressions of passionate love weren’t so different from many women raised in urban, “open” cultures. Without even recognizing what happened, my client had integrated the cultural “judgements” and so whenever her husband would bring up requests or ideas to add excitement and fun to their intimate romantic moments, instead of hearing his desire to connect with her, she would hear a little voice in her head saying “oh, good girls don’t do that!” Or, “ Oh no! Nice girls don’t do that!” Even “No respectful woman or man would do that, so he must not respect you.” Other times it would be “Wives don’t do that. Mothers don’t do that. Mature women don’t do that. Religious women certainly don’t do that!”, “He’s weird or perverted”, “He wants you to be trashy; he wants a trashy woman.” An endless record of all of these horrible, shameful words spun in her head and left her feeling torn between loving him well or being a “good woman”.
It’s no wonder that a distance grew between them, a wedge of miscommunication, hurt feelings, and a sense of isolation for both of them, with no obvious way to bridge the gap.
The results? Despite loving each other, this couple was headed down the path towards divorce because neither of them felt truly loved, cared for, seen, appreciated, or respected by the other.
I met this couple shortly before my first book, “Love and Laughter: Sexy (Meaningful) Fun for Everyone” came out. The husband actually purchased it first. When he finished reading it, he handed it to his wife and said, “I think you need to read this.” And so she did. And the course of their love story took a huge turn towards better.
Encouraged by the book to recognize the possibility of sex as a meaningful expression of love between committed partners, the wife made huge strides towards creating the life and love that she so eagerly wanted with her husband by then participating in my online course for women, “From Good Girl to Sexy Siren”*.
When it was over, she shared what has been some of my most treasured feedback from anyone: she told me that while she had always loved her husband, her work with me taught her how to love loving her husband.
That was the key to the differences they’d struggled with for over two decades. That was the issue they had been searching to repair. That was the connection they both longed for, but was missing before.
These days, this couple is gloriously in love, happy, excited to be with each other, and crazy passionate. Everyone around them can feel the difference because their love and affection results in an energy that makes everyone around them smile more.
And don’t get me wrong – this kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. Nor does it happen without a deliberate willingness to dive in and challenge ourselves. With an open mind, a desire to improve our lives and trustworthy help, transformation is possible for all of us.
No matter how good, how strong, and how deep our love is, it can always be better. It can always be more. It can be strengthened, like a muscle. No matter how good our love-making is, it can be even more rewarding, exciting and fulfilling. That’s the true power of love: it’s never maxxed out. It is only our lack of effort that allows it to stagnate.
But if we embrace a commitment to the renewability of passionate love, we will continue to create the physical, emotional, romantic, sexual and spiritual intimacy that we desire.
So as we wind down the celebration of religious holidays and we approach the new year, why not take stock of all of the good, great, amazing parts of your relationship and think about how incredible it could be to take it up another notch? Maybe spend a few minutes dreaming about what amping up the love in your life could change and what crazy, outlandish, fun opportunities might be ahead for you, your relationship (whether existing or future).
The new year is a great time to take stock, start dreaming, start asking for more from yourself and others, and see what happens!
I can’t wait to hear about your 2020 love stories and I expect that with a little bit of effort, you’ll get the “more” that you never before thought to ask for. 🙂