When Dupe confided in me one Saturday afternoon that all was not well, it came to me as a surprise. A few years back, you only needed to see the couple together to realize that they were in love, people even found it hard to believe they had been married for five years, because, ‘they behaved like “boyfriend and girlfriend”. Her husband called her by various sweet names, ‘my darling, my love, my babe’, and showered her with gifts and attention. He couldn’t take his hands and eyes off her. He openly expressed his affection with hugs and kisses and they were able to overlook one another’s shortcomings, never allowing them get in the way of their love.
Dupe and Akin were the envy of other couples. We admired them greatly and those of us that were yet to be hooked prayed for a caring man like Akin, in the days ahead.
The attraction was intense and the feelings mutual, and there was no end to the fun and beautiful things they shared, all that was now history. I searched endlessly for answers to why and where it must have gone wrong. What happened to the love birds we all knew? What happened to the intimacy they once shared? Why were they now finding it increasingly difficult to show love for each other. Was it that the pressures of marriage had started to sap their enthusiasm?
I have come to understand that marriage is nothing compared to other relationships including courtship. Many enter into marriage, unsure of what they want, though they appear confident that love would carry them through moments of difficulties. But soon, they realize that they were unprepared after all, as reality dawns. It takes a few years of marriage to understand that good marriages don’t just happen. We endure some trying period in our marriages, giving room to adjustments and adaptations, but if we keep at it, a wonderful marriage remains within reach.
You must learn how to share yourself and your life with him again and take steps to correct whatever feelings of hurt have been carried over from the past.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN ENSURING INTIMACY?
The real problem is not that we don’t know how to be intimate, but many things work against intimacy. There is no way we can ensure our love relationship in marriage, without addressing the issue of negative attitudes.
This is a common problem in marriage. Communication is a skill that must be properly understood, before it can be honestly used as an effective tool in working out intimacy.
Communicating effectively (Common things to watch out for )
- Inaccurate assumptions about what the other thinks and may want
- Changing the subject and bringing up other unimportant matters, other issues to use as weapons against your partner, instead of limiting the discussion to the original one.
- Making use of phrases like ‘you always’….and ‘you never’… being brash in our responses, and choosing to give a straight yes or no to questions that may have required explaining.
- Not knowing how to address issues that arise in our marriages without allowing it get to out of hand.
- The dangerous moments of silence
- Nagging, the use of non-verbal signals like tones, facial expression and body language to get your own way.
- Even when we have a point, our approach and timing could make the difference.
Try using friendly responses like, ‘I see what you mean’ ‘that is an interesting way to look at it’. Acknowledge that you understand what your partner is saying, then wait for the best time to share your own views. You need to try applying the potent power of praise, kind words don’t cost much but can accomplish much. Appreciate your spouse’s good qualities and efforts, letting him know you value his opinions and enjoy communicating with him. This, in many cases, is enough to do the miracle and open the door of his heart
- For intimacy to thrive, all broken down communication must be restored while we must be free to express our views and share our ideas, without any tension.
During counseling, Kemi started out by saying ‘we don’t communicate’. We keep arguing over our differences, which are not particularly issues of life and death. We just have different ways of seeing things or handling situations’. Being around Kunle and Kemi created a tense atmosphere; they had strong differences in opinion, based on different upbringings and values. If one desires a peaceful and intimate relationship, dialogue, tolerance and forgiveness must be a way of life. Kunle and Kemi needed to learn that marriage always required working upon.
Negative criticism of our partner’s appearance, behaviour, personality and choices especially in public places or in the presence of others, also affects our intimacy adversely. Correction must be made in love. No matter what your man has done wrong, you must stop saying negative things about him. Never tell your husband, ‘you are the worst thing that has happened to me;’ ‘you are a disgrace to manhood,’ or that he can never change, as some women do. Remember you are not his Creator.
When efforts are made to tell a man only positive things in the face of his impossible behaviour, it propels him to ponder on his ways and have a rethink about his attitude towards you. Matters left unresolved, lead to unnecessary hostility in marriage.
Several years ago, I met a lady who was coping very well with her husband’s unfaithful lifestyle. I just could not understand why she would allow him touch her. It took me over ten years to understand that lady’s mindset. Apparently, she had gone through years of sadness, brooding, worry and depression. Her life gradually returned to normal as she stopped the following:
- She stopped blaming herself. Initially, she felt her failures and imperfections were responsible for his unfaithfulness. “If I wasn’t nagging and yelling those harsh, hard and unkind words”, she said.
- She no longer felt insecure and stopped comparing herself with other women.
- She stopped searching for telltale signs of infidelity like checking his phone, looking out for lipstick stains on his collar and checking for the smell of feminine perfume on his clothes.
- She no longer over dressed to get his attention nor starved her already slim body in an attempt to look like a teenager after four kids.
- She stopped trying to give an outstanding performance when they made love.
- She was no longer going to inflate monetary needs in the bid to ensure he had no loose cash for promiscuity.
- At some point, she stopped being angry with him and started feeling sorry for him.
- She was no longer going to blame God. In the past, she had cried out to God in despair, “why don’t you do something?”
- She was no longer going to wait day after day and year after year for her husband to become faithful so she could be happy. No deferred happiness.
One day out of human desperation and spiritual maturity, something in her said “Enough! It takes more than a perfect wife to have a faithful husband.
How many men stopped committing adultery because their wives are perfect and why do some self-centered women have the dearest husbands? If he doesn’t change until I am ninety years old, just look at all those years I would have wasted being miserable.
I am just going to accept what I don’t have the power to change and be happy in spite of it!” It is not her fault that her husband lacked self-control and had not attained the level of emotional and spiritual maturity required to overcome infidelity. She was free to be herself and be the best wife not out of guilt but for the sheer joy of it. She put everything in God’s hand and was finally happy in spite of her circumstances.
She was no longer going to use the little time he spent at home quarreling, thereby losing two ways and that was how she was still able to have a pleasurable relationship with him again and fill her home with laughter and love, despite the odds.
TIPS TO HELP MAINTAIN INTIMACY WITH YOUR HEARTTHROB
Eph 4:32 “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
- Let your spouse know by your words and actions that he is still important. Your love respect and approval must not just be a private matter but should be public.
- Observe daily hygiene. To anticipate closeness and approach your partner without being clean and well groomed is simply bad manners. Bathing regularly, shaving (armpit and others), using special soaps, lotion, cream, deodorant, changing bed sheet and towels regularly, wearing clean underwear and clothes as well as keeping hair and nails clean are the things you must do to ensure there is no odour or smell of any kind. Women beware of offensive odour from braided hair style.
- It takes spending time together to build intimacy. As lovers, schedule regular dates, engage in romantic activities like writing love notes, text messages and so on. It is important you celebrate special events like birthday, wedding anniversary, promotion etc. Places to go include: restaurant, cinema, the beach etc. These acts strengthen your love relationship.
- Learn to say thank you for what he has done and he will be encouraged to do more for you. Offer praise and gratitude, show affection with words and touch.
- Your home must be orderly, neat, clean, and comfortable with good cozy interior decor before it can be desirable as a love den. Get ideas from magazines.
In your bedroom have cozy colors, decent bed sheets, dim lighting, scented candle, potpourri and special effects. It is a love den not a common room and your children must respect it as such. Sharing your bed with your children should therefore be avoided.
- If the saying that one of the ways to a man’s heart is through his stomach then special attention must be paid to cooking. Food should be neatly presented and served on time. Nourishing balanced diet makes a strong healthy couple. Food variety is also important so serve different types of dishes. Besides we have learnt from Esther that you should not ask for a favor and expect to get it if you have not satisfied your spouse’s stomach.
- Enjoy partner centred sexual relationship with your spouse. Read body language; observe the slightest word or gesture; pleasures and displeasure.
Don’t rush love making. Be eventful and imaginative.
- Appearance is important because men are stimulated by sight. The king saw Queen Esther and she obtained favor (Esther 5: 1-2, Songs of Solomon
1: 15). The scripture teaches moderation but does not condemn decent dressing. Stay attractive physically, emotionally, spiritually. Torn, underwear and nightwear is not attractive.
Wearing trendy casuals at home is definitely more attractive than wearing Buba.
- Apologize willingly without being told.
- Taking holidays as a couple; make it a must. Get away and unwind. Don’t live a monotonous routine.
- Pray! Pray! Pray!
Marriage is ordained by God, and even He knows it takes working at!
Don’t let little things make you fail at it.