“There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact” (1Corinthians 6:16).
The loss of passionate romance is a common complaint in marriage. It seems that once the confetti and rice are swept away and the last of the wedding cake is put in the freezer, so is the couple’s passion.
But marriage in no way requires passion to be put on ice. Love grows less exciting with time for the same reasons that the second run on a fast toboggan slide is less exciting than the first. But as any long-term, happily married couple can tell you, the excitement may decrease, but the real pleasure can still increase.
So what do couples who enjoy passion do that’s different than others? How do they rekindle the flickering flame of passion? Here are two proven practices:
- Practice meaningful touch. Sex therapists have long known what successfully married couples soon learn. Affection, in the form of touching, is not only a preliminary to making love, it is a language that speaks more eloquently than words. Sheldon Van Auken, writing about his marriage to his wife, Davy, in the book A Severe Mercy, illustrates the profoundness of touch: “Davy had crept near to me still crouching and I put my arm about her, and she snuggled close. Neither of us spoke, not so much as a whispered word. We were together, we were close, we were overwhelmed by a great beauty. I know that it seemed to us both that we were completely one: we had no need to speak.” Meaningful touch is the language of passion.
- Compliment your partner daily. The most important element of romantic passion for both husbands and wives is to feel special. Not only do they want to feel sexually attractive to their mates, but they want to know they are appreciated. Compliments feel good — both to give and to receive. So, to paraphrase a James Taylor song, “Shower the person you love with compliments.”
When it comes to passion in marriage, the bottom line is that the intensity of early passion is only the beginning.
We often illustrate it this way: A jet airliner from Seattle to New York uses 80 percent of its fuel in takeoff. A tremendous amount of energy is required to get the plane launched so it can reach a comfortable cruising altitude. The takeoff, however, is only the beginning.
The cruise is the important part of the journey, and it requires a different kind of energy, one with more sustaining and even power.
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are a husband-and-wife team who not only share the same name, but the same passion for helping others build healthy relationships. In 1991, the Parrotts founded the Center for Relationship Development on the campus of Seattle Pacific University—a groundbreaking program dedicated to teaching the basics of good relationships.
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