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What Happened to the Fireworks?

More often than not, we settled for a snuggle and sleep instead of sex. Here's how we put the KA-BOOM back into bedtime.

A new lingerie shop had opened at the mall, and Joe and I stepped inside to have a look around. I found a beautiful, and seductive, nightgown. But after I'd done everything but stand on my head and whistle to try to get my husband to buy it, he abruptly ushered me out of the store.

"We're more like friends than lovers!" I blurted out. Surprisingly, Joe seemed unaffected by my harsh words as we maneuvered our way through the crowds toward more "practical" stores. "How could I say something like that to my best friend?" I wondered, mentally beating myself up for my outburst.

We've been married long enough to know the comfort that comes with routine and profound contentment. We've braved tough times, worked through some hurts and basically have a solid marriage. We are totally devoted to each other, and yet, if I had to evaluate our marriage back then, I would have said it was "made in heaven—sort of."

"Sort of," because our sex life stunk. Basically, we weren't having much, if any. Only on rare occasions (like the stroll through the lingerie store) did I wish my husband found me physically—sexually—alluring. The rest of the time I was content with our evening clutch as we snuggled next to each other for another night's rest. Night after night.

Yet standing in that store, something stirred inside me. As my fingers slid through the soft silk nightgown, I thought of my usual bedroom attire—ratty flannel pajamas. And just as I was caught up in the fantasy of swooshing through our bedroom in that alluring garment, Joe yanked me in a bee-line toward the door, obviously not sharing my fantasy. Or so I thought.

Not long after our trip to the mall, we headed north for our annual October vacation. Little did I know what Joe, who was very much affected by my words that day, had planned. My meat-and-potatoes man turned our weekend into a nonstop banquet of affection and romance. He was no longer just a friend, but again my lover. A love letter (that I will forever cherish), perfume, chocolate, giggles and a massage clearly communicated that he did find me alluring. In fact, after we checked into the honeymoon suite of a lodge in the Canadian Rockies, my husband presented me with the very nightgown I so desperately wanted. We rekindled a spark that burns brightly to this day, and we are both determined to keep complacency at bay.

Why had we allowed our love life to deteriorate to the point of celibacy? The only reason I can come up with is this: We got lazy. Love-making requires preparation and effort. It's a little like exercise—we hate to lace up the shoes, but once we've taken a brisk walk through the countryside we feel more alive. If you've been feeling more like a monk than a married person, here are a few ways to stoke the fire in your marriage.

Recognize that God created marriage. He designed us for each other, and intended for husband and wife to delight in each other. Find your partner's body irresistible to touch, and then do some touching. "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine," says Solomon in the Song of Songs. Treat your mate's body with love and reverence.

Renew your resolve. Make a conscious decision to improve your sex life. Then take deliberate steps toward your goal: Adjust your attitude, take care of your body, make time for each other. For example, my husband knows how I dislike his coarse, day-old beard. I appreciate it when he showers and shaves before lovemaking.

Run away from home. Daily distractions and routines can get in the way of a healthy tryst. If you are on a limited budget, consider these options:

Ask relatives or friends to care for your kids or to relieve you of other responsibilities for a night or two. Then offer to reciprocate.

Study your address book. Who do you know who has a vacation home or cabin? Who might be willing to trade homes with you for a weekend?

Check the off-season rates for resorts and motels. Always ask if there is a lower rate than the one quoted, or a special "honeymoon" package. So what if you're on your 6th or 26th honeymoon?

If you can't get away, change your routine. Put a bookmark in the novel. Skip the nightly newscast. Get rid of the notion that passion must always be spontaneous. For Joe and me, "waiting for it to happen" was a ticket to failure. Spontaneous sex in this over-extended household is a bit like asking the circus juggler to pause for a spot of tea. Planned passion can offer heightened desire because it gives us a chance to daydream in anticipation of our time together. Also, setting aside a specific time means we're better able to guard against outside interruptions.

Increase your chances. You love your spouse deeply—right? Show it by doing things to enrich your love life. Write a love letter, purchase some massage oil, splash on some perfume, light a candle, play romantic music, wear seductive clothing. My signal to Joe is sometimes as simple as putting on that nightgown instead of my flannel pajamas.

Communicate. Tell your mate why you love him or her, not just that you do. Affirmation is critically important to the health of any relationship. Sometimes it's during pillow talk, sometimes it's in a crowded room, but I get a thrill every time Joe whispers to me that I'm beautiful.

Strive for great sex. Even the most rock-solid marriage will be in jeopardy if a mutually satisfying physical union is left out of the picture. If you have problems that talking won't solve, seek help from books or a trained professional. Your marriage is at stake if you choose to do nothing.

Have fun. Lovemaking is not meant to be a duty; it's a glorious celebration of God's grace and design for marriage. Joe and I now laugh about our mall escapade. If you can't be lighthearted about sex, you're taking it way too seriously.

Cynthia Yates is a freelance writer who lives in Bigfork, Montana.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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Intimacy; Love; Marriage; Marriage Struggles; Sex
Today's Christian Woman, Winter, 1997
Posted September 12, 2008

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