Today marks the day that I said, "I do" to my best friend 15 years ago. As I stood there in front of all of those people, who would've known we'd have five great kids (one of them adopted to boot) and be more in love on our 15 year anniversary than that first day together? Who'd have thought we'd still be each other's best friend and have a great sex life? You see, that first year together was--rough. I'll be generous and say it was rough. Life circumstances weren't that great and our activities in the bedroom were...let's just say that I often wondered if The Driver would be offended if I read a book. So who would've know I'd be able to say all of these things today? Our life is not perfect or easy, but it sure makes a huge difference who is along for this ride called life.
I had intended to write about my goals in regards to The Driver today, but instead I think I'll approach my thoughts in a different way. Instead I think I'll share with you some of my thoughts on how we keep our marriage fresh. So none of these thoughts are new goals to me for 2010. They are on-going.
How is it that we can be closer than ever, despite life's ups and downs and how in the world can we still be happy with just each other in the bedroom? It's simple, over time we've established some practices that keep us faithful to our relationship to one-another above everyone and everything else, including kids.
First off, we both place God as center of our relationship. We have a common spiritual life together. We pray together, read the Bible together and serve Him together. Albeit it's not perfect--I wish I could say it was every day faithfully, but it's not. We're real people doing the best we can, but every day we both seek after the same God and that lays the foundation.
Secondly, we are each other's best friend. There's no one else we'd rather be with than each other. We know each other well. It feels good to know and be known at this level. We are very aware that unfaithfulness is rampant and we never say that it would never happen to us. That would be the dumbest thing we could do. By saying that, we'd have let our guard down by thinking we're immune. We are always mindful that "it" is out there and we must be protective of what we have together. We put up safeguards with people of the opposite sex and set boundaries so that the stuff of life doesn't take priority. We also have VERY frank coversations with each other, making sure that we are staying accountable to one another. We also have people in our lives that have permission to keep us accountable.
On a practical, daily basis we know pretty much what each other is doing each day. We go over those things each night when the kids have gone to bed. We make sure to make time for each other to talk. Many years ago we started the "Back/Foot Swap" as our nightly ritual. Right before bedtime, I sit behind The Driver and wrap my feet around his front. He rubs my feet while I rub his back. This is when we talk about our day, share our thoughts and concerns and what our day will be like tomorrow. It is such a simple thing, but rarely missed and I believe it is one of the things that binds us together each day.
Many years back, God began to teach me about gossip and confidentiality. He showed me how much gossip grieves Him. He began to show me how important it was for me to shut my trap and listen. He showed me the value in being able to keep my mouth closed and be the sounding board for my husband. Little did I know that He was preparing me for having a husband that has a job that requires confidentiality, but yet he needs somewhere safe to talk things out. I don't know about you, but it's incredibly important to me that I fill that need for my husband, not some other woman or some guy friend of his. I've actually heard other men say that they can't tell their wife anything because she can't keep her mouth closed. That is extremely sad to me. That is not what I want for my marriage so I am grateful that God has made me the place my husband goes to unwind because he knows he can trust me.
In the midst of five kids, how can I ever find the time to do that for my husband? Well, it's my priority. So I make sure I am available to listen whether it's at the dinner table, on the phone as he drives home from work (while I am making dinner one-handed) or if it's a frantic phone call in the middle of the day. If my cell phone rings and it's my husband, you can bet I will answer because he comes first.
We also have found ways to go on "dates" with each other regularly. Some seasons of life we've had family watch our children. Other times we've paid a babysitter and others we've just mapped out some late dinner time after the kids have gone to bed. Recently, we started a babysitting swap with a few other couples to meet that need. It's only once per month and every few months we don't go on the date, but instead are the babysitters, but it is well worth it! We've had to be creative no matter what the season we're in because we married each other--not our children. In order to be good parents we have to keep our relationship at the forefront.
Now what else? Hmm...I must be missing something. Oh yes, the topic that Christians don't seem to want to talk about, but yet it's an incredible gift God has given us to share with our spouse and no one else. How in the world do we ever get to that thing called sex in the midst of our busy life? How is it that our sex life is the best it has ever been, even after 15 years together? How DO we keep it spicy? Let me tell you that this has been a challenge for me, especially because it is most definately not my "love language." Physicalness is at the bottom of the list for me, but yet it at the top for my husband. What is a girl to do in this situation? It takes work. It means that I have to be available and willing to think up new and different things. It takes talking to other people, reading books and researching. I don't know about you, but this doesn't come naturally. I would much rather learn more about crocheting or organic foods. I'm all over that! However, that still does not let me escape the fact that I have a husband with a favorite topic of sex.
I very distinctly remember having this heated conversation with The Driver one morning that changed how I view all this. I had noticed that he seemed very put-off by any of my talk or attempts at changing our eating habits to organic foods. I also noted that he was kind of pissy when I would leave to go to the Farmer's Market. Finally he expressed his thoughts to me in this way, "It seems to me that whenever you have a topic that interests you, you pursue it with reckless abandon. You talk about it, you read about it, you research it, and you do it. You spend all your free time on what interests you. Well, what about me? What about what interests me? How come you don't put that much effort into what interests me--sex? I wish you'd put half as much effort into our sex life as you do into cooking organically."
After I took the knife out of my heart, I managed to communicate to him that I'd be happy to do that if I knew where to do that. No one in our Christian community really wants to talk about it in a real way. No one will talk problems or creative ideas. No one will confess what positions they like the best, etc. I also said to him, "And how do you propose I do any research? If I walk into our church library, I'll have to face the little old lady who checks out my books (if there really are any good sex books in there anyway) or I'll have to go on the web and try to find a book or website that is not pornographic, but gives me some ideas. I'm not looking for watered-down Christianized books on the anatomy of our bodies. I'm looking for something spicy. Something with real ideas."
From this conversation began a challenge in both of us. The Driver realized the truth of my thoughts and began to help me with my research. He was a little more willing to put certain words in a search engine than I was! We have definately found a hole in the market, but in the midst of it we have found a few nuggets that have helped keep things interesting between our sheets.
First we found and read (or I guess you'd say that I read), "Just Do It: How One Couple Turned Off the TVand Turned on Their Sex Lives for 101 Days (No Excuses!)" by Douglas Brown and "365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy" by Charla Muller. Those had some good ideas, but it still left us looking for some real detailed ideas. The books were more general and inspirational in nature.
For the sake of keeping it real, I'm going to put myself out there and share with you a website/blog that we found that is exactly what we were looking for and we think can benefit many people. I'm probably going to get reamed for this one, but it frustrates me that the Christian church as a whole is so silent on this topic. I wonder if we talked more openly about sex, we might save more marriages.
I do have to put a disclaimer on this website/blog because there are a few things on there that are a bit...shall I say...controversial? Gets people all riled up? Puts people on opposing sides? All I'm sayin' is to use your filter that God has given you and pray about what is right for YOU and YOUR HUSBAND--no one else. Your marriage bed is about you and your spouse so you decide together. The purpose of the site is "to teach married women to walk in sexual freedom with their husbands, so they will be able to reach out and help free the women in their lives." Can't see anything wrong with that.
I'm not saying I'm a superstar in the bedroom. I surely have my days when I don't feel like putting in any effort, but I do purpose to make sure that my husband is satisfied and doesn't have a need to go looking anywhere else. It's out of my comfort zone to try new things, but I make myself. My attempts may not even succeed, we may die laughing in the process, but it doesn't matter to my husband. What matters to him is that I tried and we had fun. What matters is that I took time and dedicated it to him. So go for it, Mama, make a goal for yourself to try just one new thing. I hope you try more than one new thing for 2010--really more like trying new things throughout the whole year.
For the sake of Christians being more open, The Driver and I will keep on looking for safe places to explore ideas for your bedroom. If we find a good book, we'll post it. If we find another blog or website, we'll post it.
Now that I've unveiled some of our secrets, I hope you will be inspired to walk alongside me in nurturing your marriage. Maybe it seems like a lot of work to you, but I can testify that it is well worth it!