How to Create Intimacy Outside the Bedroom
by: Ashley Willis
Marriage is a beautiful, lifelong partnership that is rooted in deep commitment, love, and respect for one another. Yet, many spouses feel uninvited in their own home by their spouse. Sometimes, both spouses do, and so, they carry on and do their best to stay away as much as possible–avoiding the big elephant in the room. They don’t feel loved outside of the bedroom, so they most certainly don’t feel like getting intimate inside the bedroom. Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. If we aren’t intentional about our words, actions, and reactions, it’s easy to fall into this negative dynamic.
Maybe you are a stay-at-home mom who works very hard all day and feels up to your eyeballs in stickiness. You crave adult conversation like it’s some kind of fine chocolate or gourmet coffee. You dream about some alone time with your husband, but this dream fizzles with each passing, chaotic day.
However, when he gets home from work, all he says is, “I’m home.” And, he walks into the other room. No hug. No kiss. No, “How was your day, Honey?” All you can muster up is, “Good. You’re home. Can you feed the baby while I try and figure out what the other kids are getting into?”
I get it. Sometimes the stress of raising kids can suck the sexy right out of us until we’re so exhausted, frustrated, and depleted that we don’t feel like being cordial or loving or inviting to our husband anymore. We’re just trying to survive, and we don’t have the stamina to muster up a warm and friendly, “Hello.” If we’re honest with ourselves, we resent the fact that he gets some time to gather a coherent thought and put his efforts towards something with the potential for measurable success. You assume that he understands your reasons for being coy–or at least you feel like he “should.”
This problem is widespread among couples from all walks of life and with various schedules and work dynamics. Maybe you have long working hours, and your spouse tries to meet you for a lunch date every now and then. Or, perhaps your wife tries to surprise you at the office with some coffee and donuts in the morning. You love seeing your spouse, but you don’t necessarily like her coming to the office.You tell yourself you need to keep “work at work and home at home,” and so, you see your wife’s visit as nothing more than an interruption. And, she feels it. You flash her a frustrated smile whenever she pops in, and you reluctantly give her ten minutes of your time. You feel like you’ve “done your spousal duty,” and she should be pleased. You don’t want to appear unprofessional to your coworkers, after all. You’ve worked hard to get where you are professionally, and you can’t let up.You assume that she understands your reasons for having limited time with her–or at least you feel like she “should.”
Let’s get honest with ourselves here.Ask yourselves these questions:
Am I inviting to my spouse whenever I see them–no matter the circumstances–or am I chilly and aloof?
Am I genuinely happy to see them, or do I feel like my spouse is just another interruption in my day?
When I peel back my pride and take a long hard look in the mirror, I know I’ve been less than inviting to my husband during different seasons of our marriage. When I replay my antagonistic greetings in my mind, I’m ashamed at how I treated him. Thankfully, those seasons were short-lived due to the tremendous grace that Dave gave me in those stressful moments, but I want to do my best to always invite him into my space, my heart, and my life whenever I can.
If you find that you and your spouse are struggling with this, please know that all is not lost.
Both of you can do things to change this negative dynamic. Here’s how:
1. Whenever you greet your spouse, do your best to look them in the eyes, ask about their day, and listen to what they have to say.
2. Be sure to put the cell phone down and other electronic devices away so that you can give them your best attention.
3. If your spouse seems extra stressed when you greet them, ask what you can do to help and mean it. This will go a long way in lifting the burden to allow your spouse to be more inviting to you as well.
4. If one or both of you has struggled with being uninviting to the other for a long time, be patient with each other as you work to improve this aspect of your marriage. Old habits die hard, but the good new behaviors will form with persistence and consistency.
5. Stop perceiving your spouse as an interruption. They always deserve your first and best attention, so we must do our best to adjust our schedule to cultivate a strong, inviting marriage.
When we choose to consistently invite our spouse into our day and greet them with a genuine smile and welcoming spirit, our marriage will grow stronger both outside and inside the bedroom. Real intimacy is about vulnerability and connection. The best way to cultivate and nurture a thriving sex life is by showing your genuine enthusiasm about being with your spouse both inside AND outside of the bedroom. Do whatever you can to let your spouse know that you love having them around. There should be no doubt in their mind that you’ve still got it for them.
So, how can you be inviting to your spouse today? How can you show your spouse that you adore them? How can you encourage and flirt with them today? Think about it and go do it. You will be so glad you did, and your loving actions will bless your spouse and your marriage.