I hear a lot of people who are in committed relationships talk about their marriage fears. They know marriage is a big deal and will change their dynamic (often for the better), but one of the most common fears I hear about is that sexual chemistry doesn’t survive in marriage.
I'm not so much talking about year one or even the first few years of your conjoined life. I'm talking about 10, 15 years into it, when you might have kids, high-stress jobs, mortgages, and all kinds of things distracting you from the passion you once felt for each other. Especially if grew up not seeing a whole lot of PDA from your parents (read: most of us), we assume that's normal, that marriage isn't about a healthy sex life, it's about all the other stuff.
But that’s simply not true!
The amazing kisses, the excitement in a light touch, and the longing to be in one another's arms can stick around for good. In fact, the happiest marriages are ones in which sexual chemistry is strong. Extensive research conducted by marriage researcher, Dr. John Gottman, found that yes, sexual chemistry is crucial to a happy marriage, but that good sex has much more to do with intimate trust, friendship, and conversations that create emotional connection.
The good news is that you don't need to memorize a bunch of crazy sex moves to keep the spark alive. There are things you can do in your relationship now—and continue to do in marriage—that will ensure that your physical chemistry will stand the test of time.
Get Good at Speaking One Another’s Language
I know, I know, we are big fans of The 5 Love Languages at Verily, but according to Dr. Kevin Leman, author of Sheet Music: Uncovering The Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage couples who keep sexual chemistry alive and well in marriage know that foreplay starts outside the bedroom. A lot of people mistakenly think that the time to turn up the romance is behind closed doors at night, but, according to Dr. Leman, that is not the only way to woo your spouse.
Whether it's your's or your partner's primary love language, physical chemistry is nurtured in all the little acts of love throughout the day. Little gestures such as doing the dishes, sending a sweet text, giving one another little gifts, or planning quality time together taking out the trash shows your partner that you love them even when sex isn't involved and sustains feelings of intimacy throughout the day. Couples who are good at speaking one another's love language throughout the day are less likely to be "too tired" at night. These acts of service are just as important when abstaining from sex. If you and your man are good at speaking one another's love language, you should have no reason to fear that your sexual chemistry won't last!
Put Some Rituals in Place
You know those couples who seem more like roommates than lovers? Yeah, those couples have fallen into a relationship of routine, which is exactly what you want to avoid if you desire for sexual chemistry to last until you are old and gray. Luckily, there is an antidote to routine, and that is ritual.
Zach Brittle, a Gottman certified counselor and cofounder of ForBetter.com, tells Verily, "Rituals also help ensure that your relationship is unique." Brittle explains that rituals inject creativity and fun into your relationship, and it can also eliminate questions when it comes to sexual intimacy. "You may bristle at the idea of planning or scripting this process," explains Brittle, "but when life gets busy, and you’re not as free to be spontaneous as you once were, having an agreement and an understanding of how you’ll engage in intimacy can diminish the fear of rejection or the confusion about whether one partner is 'in the mood.' Your ritual may be simply asking. Or you could have a code or symbol that represents your desire to make love."
Don't wait to make rituals part of you relationship until after you're married. If the butterflies are waining, decide on a night of the week for a special date or create a ritual that makes saying goodbye when you leave each other special. Tell one another three things that make you grateful for the other person, say a prayer together, or create some little connection that's just between the two of you.
Prioritize One Another
If you want to ensure that passion and chemistry will stand the test of time, get good at putting one another first now. In the early stages of romance, natural physical chemistry is helped along by the fact that everything is new, exciting, and you are totally obsessed with one another. But eventually life gets busy, and it can be easier to let your romance slip to second place in your life.
Research by Dr. Gottman shows that marital satisfaction sharply declines after the birth of a child. What occurs is that suddenly baby takes first place in a couple's life and couples don't take time for their marriage, Zach Brittle explains in a Washington Post article. Couples who have healthy sexual chemistry prioritize their relationship. They create needed balance in their lives and schedule quality time that doesn't involve their new bundle of joy. This requires discipline and good rituals in marriage!
In you're in a dating relationship, be sure not to schedule yourself out of quality time together and put one another first. This practiced relationship behavior will ensure that you don't take one another for granted in marriage and that the love will in fact last.
Photo Credit: Erynn Christine Photography