My husband and I recently realized that we didn’t like each other as much as we wanted to. We were often arguing. He’d come into the room and I’d feel tension in my shoulders. The kids would fuss, he’d respond and I’d disagree. It got to the point where I wanted to walk out of the room once he walked in.
We still shared some common threads. Raising our children, talking about personal challenges, and shared goals and dreams were all still present. We just weren’t connecting in the moment.
Sex had been really infrequent and I’d read that men exhibit loving behaviors after sex. They need the sex to get to the love whereas women need the love to get to the sex. This seemed like a grim joke to me. If humans are supposed to be heterosexual but each gender’s ways of coming to desire, love, and sex are directly opposite then what’s going on? Yet, I was willing to make the first move, We tried ‘beading’ where he would give me a simple signal – a bead in a box – when he wanted to have sex and I had 24 hours to make it happen. This worked pretty well for a couple of weeks. We went from having sex less than once a month to more than three times a week. But something was still missing for both of us and eventually our beading practice tapered off and got dropped.
The missing something was intimacy – letting each other in to our hearts, minds, and bodies. There were things that neither one of us was willing to share with the other because we were certain we’d be shamed, judged, and left if we did. So we got help and we spoke those things aloud. It was hard. It was scary. It was worth it. My husband said the worst thing to me I could imagine him saying. I’m OK. I’m still here and so is he. I said the scariest things to him he could imagine me saying. And he’s still OK. He’s still here.
We also added scheduled snuggle time – daily times to connect physically with affection, without sexual agenda, and without talking very much. We read a list of bonding behaviors in a psychology article about oxytocin and bonding. It turns out that regular soothing touch, eye contact, and reassuring sounds send signals to our brains that we can relax together and that the relationship is rewarding. We don’t do these practices for very long each day, but we do bring awareness and intention to connect to our moments of bonding. Once we started doing them, our desire to do them more increased and so did our connection. While we still have challenges with each other, these practices make it much easier to have affection, love, and intimacy in our relationship.
Kassandra Brown believes in the inherent goodness of all people. She says “Even the most dysfunctional behaviors are strategies for love and connection.” At parentcoaching.org she works with you over Skype or phone to help you decode the hidden language of those behaviors to find happiness and success.