Everything changed the night I stopped blaming my husband.
One night, after walking home from work, I was rudely shoved into reality. A gloomy, depressing reality: My marriage has lost its spice.
Picture this less than sexy scene: My husband of 25 years, in his unbuttoned shorts and naked torso, hunching over his computer while staring at the big-screen TV on the wall. He’s not breathing, just making periodic squealing sounds. It’s the FIFA World Cup, and apparently it’s a big deal.
Meanwhile, a fully packaged-to-please me (in a semi-low V-neck silk blouse, tight black pants, high heels and maroon lipstick) leans over to give him a kiss and get his attention.
“Goal!” he roars, jumping up and pushing me away, almost knocking me over.
He glances right through me, slams himself back down on the coach, and rewinds the match to relive the orgasmic moment (a.k.a. the goal) again.
I look at his glittering-from-excitement bald spot and wince. I don’t like it.
Not just the fact that he’s getting older and spends most of his evenings curled up in a fetal position on our family room couch, checking his emails, cracking sunflower seeds, and staring at the TV, lost in oblivion.
What’s really been upsetting me for a while is that our 'flower of passion' has been fading away slowly, and he's doing nothing about it.
However, as I’ve witnessed just now, my husband is still highly capable of expressing passion and excitement for some hairy, sweaty football players on TV; just not for me.
But, why not for me?
By now, I’m really hating him. And, as always, it’s his fault when I’m feeling this way. It's his fault things aren't as passionate as when we first got married.
A bit later, on a call with my mother, I share my frustration with the situation. And what she says in response creates a storm, an inner revolution within me.
“But what do you expect, Katya? After being married for so many years, you get used to each other’s boring faces, sagging skin and dimply thighs. Everything is known and predictable; you get annoyed and grouchy with each other’s ‘stuff,’ and sex becomes like making a sandwich, routine and ordinary.”
“OK, Mom, thanks,” I slam down the phone. Now I am really pissed.
But, then I have a realization:
I remind myself that I’ve learned from experience that somebody else’s opinions, predictions and expectations (even my mother's) don’t have to be mine. I am free to choose for myself what I prefer to believe, practice and expect. I am free to decide what kind of relationship I want with my husband.
And also, I’ve learned is that blaming others — especially my husband — is not the path to passion, in life ... or in bed.
And so, I start turning that finger of blame pointing at him and slowly rotate it backward to point at myself.
"What do I really want?" I ask myself, and right away I know with total clarity: I want a juicy, passionate, exciting, spontaneous, thrilling, exhilarating and romantic relationship with my husband.
Being a woman of action, I immediately take matters into my own hands. Literally ...
I storm toward my husband, yank the remote control out of his hands, pause the game (I do care about my well-being), and lean against him and kiss him hard. I then glance over my shoulder and causally walk away, tossing my bangs and swaying my hips.
And yep, it sure felt good! That moment when I decided: It’s up to me. The moment when I took charge.
Look, the truth is ... when I complain and blame, I become a whiny, needy, pissy, little girl. And how can she seduce a man? No man wants to be seduced by her. It’s just not sexy.
And that’s the real problem: When my husband ignores me, my inner child gets triggered. And, as always, she feels helpless to do anything about it.
Realizing this, I sit down, taking a breather, and I use my mind to re-frame this piece of subconscious misunderstanding. (As a medical hypnotherapist, this is what I do for a living).
In my mind, I take my inner child by the hand, lead her toward a glistening, open meadow, and release her in this place of magic, love, and peace. "Go on," I gently prompt my younger self, "and let me tell you what I want you to do: Please rejoice in skipping through the fields of wildflowers, chasing butterflies and braiding flowers into a wreath. Please giggle in delight as the fuzzy dandelions tickle your feet, and as you throw a Frisbee to your puppy and cuddle with your kitty; this place is yours, and you can choose any puppy or kitten you want. And please always know, my angel, that in this place, as in your life, you are always safe, loved, watched over and cared for. So please surrender, my precious one, to the boundless, carefree freedom of fun, innocence and joy, knowing that Big Katherine is in charge, and that she is smart, mature, resourceful, and she always knows what to do."
Getting the child out of the way frees space for the part I call the 'Big Me' to come forward. She's self-assured, poised, shrewd and adept. As she steps up and takes charge, she is fully aware of her intentions toward her husband; she is the ignition, a wild force of passion, romance and multi-orgasmic sex.
That’s right, she does not blame or whine, she is glowing in the flames of aliveness, and her husband has no choice but to join the party.
From this part of myself, I reflect on: What would the passionate me feel like, be like? What would she say or do?
A flow of ideas pours through my mind, almost faster than I can write them down. I would:
- Send him love texts and emails.
- Schedule regular date nights, walks in the park; smooch on a couch in the lobby of a nice hotel, listening to smooth jazz, sharing a glass of wine.
- Book a room in the middle of the day for ... followed by room service.
- Experiment with new kinds of adventure, like concerts, comedy clubs, mystery night dinners, and maybe even going dancing.
- Walk the dog at night, side by side, sharing our day, venting, dreaming, connecting.
- Cuddle in bed when the kids are asleep, looking into my hubby’s eyes and acknowledging everything he is to me.
"Wait! "I think. "That last one — 'acknowledge everything he is to me' — feels hard." I was not raised with the habit of praising myself or others.
However, I know that it’s the smart and loving thing to do, because the more we praise, the more life gives us things to feel good about. (By the way, the same is true about complaining.)
However, knowing this concept is not enough; I have to put it into practice.
"Hmm," I squint, thinking. "Since my husband, like any other normal human being, is not perfect, there are things about him that drive me up the wall, and I’m sure he feels the same about me."
But right now, for the sake of this exercise, I’m more interested in his positive aspects, and as I focus on one positive trait, the rest begin to line up. And I easily think of 33 wonderful things my husband is to me. Thirty-three ways he enhances my life. He's my ...
- Trusted friend
- Father of my kids
- Pool man
- Sex coach
- Jewelry designer
- Personal shopper
- Financial planner
- Massage therapist
- Travel planner
- Spiritual advisor
- Heating pad
- Food taster
- English dictionary
- Driving instructor
- Math calculator
- Computer technician
- TV installer
- Lactation specialist
- Labor and delivery coach
- Mouse catcher
- Spider killer
- Luggage carrier
- Stroller folder
- Soul mate
As I look over this random list of all the things my husband has been for me, my eyes well up with tears and my heart with grace.
I realize just how much I love this man — my man — so much that I don’t want to waste a second being mad at him.
I want to kiss his eyes, rub my nose in his chest hair covered with age-induced snow. I want to love him like I’ve never done before, passionately, freely, fully. I want to blend into his being and lose myself there, forever.
I realize, I actually don’t want how it was when we first got married. I want better — juicier, deeper, as we grow and expand as individuals, so that our 'flower of passion,' sex and romance blooms and beautifies; brighter, stronger, year after year.
After all, as husband and wife, we are the core of our marriage, our immediate world. And our unity and intimate connection sets the tone for our family, serving as an example to our kids of how good marriage can be. How wonderful it is to feel connected, yet independent; to love one another yet deeply know that the sole reason we’re loving is because love is who we really are.
And so, it’s time to get busy, putting my revelations into practice.
And I invite you to do the same. Send your sulking inner child off to a wonderful place and let the grown up woman that you are step forward. Make a list of all of the ways your husband or partner makes your life better. Appreciate him for it. Thank him for it. And then continue to do your part to keep passion alive in your marriage.