A month or so back a fellow steemian asked about the work/life balance and when work gets in the way of sex. At the time I wrote back what I thought was a well thought out, easy to understand answer that in everyway would enlighten this person. This same said person would go out, question her priorities and figure where the imbalance in her life was and voilà more sexy time would magically appear.
What do I think now?
Over a month later?
I was a trite asshole.
For what ever reason this steemian’s heartfelt questing and my silly but well-intentioned answer kept rubbing me the wrong way. How do I make this right for them and pull my self-respect off of the floor? In the middle of the night it came to me. A simple little example that was shared with me by a Catholic Priest some 20 odd years ago. Funny enough? This little lesson is on the topic of marriage, sex and how to keep both going. Please note, in no way do I think marriage changes the value of the following. I just think it makes more sense the longer you have been with your partner or at least you are well over the “honeymoon” phase of your relationship.
As I like to say, “here goes nothing”…
I remember this part of Pre-Cana (think of it as Catholic premarital counseling) as I sat with my beloved across from this old priest with a serious “recovering Catholic face” just biding my time to dismiss his little tales. I mean, what could this seemingly ancient, celibate old fart tell me about married life, work and sex? From the looks of it, he had only done one…right? Work. I must have been shifting in my chair uncomfortably when my soon to be husband rested his hand on my thigh and gave me the oh so familiar look, “hold it together, it will be over soon”. As an aside, the old hubby has given me this look many times during our married life: our wedding day, his Grandmother’s funeral that was entirely in Spanish, at the birth of our children and when he told me my uncle had committed suicide. It’s odd how it has gone from feeling like control to more of a comforting place to land.
Anyway, the instruction that day was based on a very simple concept. Relationships continuously move through three distinct cycles. This is what I should have shared with my steemit friend. The first cycle is the all-consuming “honeymoon” phase. Anyone in a relationship knows this stage as it seems like it’s a favorite for young and old alike. It’s the, I can’t keep from thinking about you, touching you and my life revolves around you. There is room for no other in this phase but the one I desire. Personal blemishes and bad behavior are forgiven, not to mention that cellulite or your concern over penis size even exists. It’s a frenetic, amazing place to co-exist in but folks it’s not what can be sustained long term. Thank God, or we would all starve to death and never see sunlight.
Phase two, brings real commitment, friendship and warmth. It’s what my friend the priest called the “meat and potatoes” of relationships. Lots of love and a deeper understanding of each other herald the knowledge that our cherished partner is human. Think of this phase as the roommate/best friend stage. It happens when you least expect it, it happens when you start leaving the door cracked when you go to the bathroom, it happens the first time you see your partner sick, it happens when you stop having sex for connection and fun but more out of duty or boredom, it happens when you choose to stay late at work instead of heading home and it happens when you are in three day old sweats, haven’t showered, yet you’ve chosen to hold on to your partner when they realize the death of a parent makes them equal parts orphan and a real adult.
This next stage is a dozy. I feel it’s where most relationships fail and the time when adultery happens. Phase three, as explained by the priest. “This is the moment in your relationship where life and work has gotten in the way of love and family”. Who was I to disagree I hadn’t even hit some of the milestones he was talking about; a fledgling career, children, money worries, more death, stress, personal illness, addiction, old age of those around you. I mean sweet baby Jesus in the fucking manger…these things would never happen to me or to my marriage. He’s gone off the rails with this last stage of relationships. This old priest went on to explain that in all seriousness there would come a time in our lives that we would be laying in bed thinking, “How did I get here?” “Am I still in love?”, “If I buried his dead body in the garden would anyone notice?”.
This was such a bitter pill to swallow; I found it hard to breathe.
How was I to get married?
All I was thinking that no matter what I did, we would all end up wanting to destroy our once treasured partners. Our priest friend let it hang in the air for what seemed like an eternity. “There is good news”, seemed an unlikely and now uncomfortable place to start. These are all cycles in relationships. One cycle leads to the next, which leads to the next and so on. I was more confused than ever. He went on to explain, “really the honeymoon phase is the easiest and where most couples would love to stay but that’s not realistic. No one can continue in that overly romanticized state, eventually you’d wear yourself out and could not continue. That’s why phase two happens on its heel, warm companionship but without the spark. Many couples stay in this phase for years at a time but in the end prolonged exposure to this period breeds contempt and the feeling of being undervalued and taken for granted. That’s the breeding ground for phase three, all out war and destruction of what you have built together. If couples only knew that it’s in heart of this last cycle that you can and will change the direction of your relationship by doing one very simple thing.
By this time we were hanging on every word that he spoke. Would or could there really be an easy answer? Sure there is. The answer he shared I feel is “like easier said then done” but I have used this same technique through out my 22 years of marriage. Dying for it?
Treat your partner how you need to feel and how you want to be treated. Just let that sit there for a moment. If you are hungry to be desired, desire your partner. If you feel you aren’t being listened to, stop everything you’re doing, and focus on your partner and what they are saying. Ask them questions. If you need to be touched or held, do like in kind. Want to be the priority in your partner’s life? Show them that they are number one in yours.
That’s it. Here’s the answer I should have given in the first place. To my steemian friend?... Try it out… I promise you, unless you’re with a total narcissist, someone in the middle of an addiction, physically or verbally abusive it will help and it WILL WORK.
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