Here at A Grown Up Marriage we talk quite a bit about qualities like integrity, honesty, and truth. We talk about how these qualities serve to enhance all aspects of intimacy, being truly known, in our marriage. Too often in marriage we assume that our spouse has the ability to read our mind. Today Julie takes a look at the havoc that can take on the sexual intimacy in your marriage.
I love it when my husband occasionally goes a day (or even two!) without shaving. I mean, it really turns me on, more than I thought it would.
He would have no idea of this priceless piece of knowledge about me…if I hadn’t told him.
If I had just assumed he would figure it out without some direct input from me, he likely would have gone about his regular routine of shaving almost every single day.
Now that he knows I like the occasional scruffiness, he will skip a day every so often, much to my delight.
Assumptions. They are a nemesis to good and healthy marriage.
Grown up marriage begs for us to cast assumption out of our repertoire of interaction.
Anticipating is one thing; but to blatantly assume we know what our spouse is thinking or wanting can be a slippery slope.
Why so slippery?
Because the potential for misinterpretations – and wrong actions based on those misinterpretations – is huge. Who really wants to cause pain to the person they vowed to love, respect and honor?
Yeah, I know you possibly made those marriage vows a very long time ago, maybe even decades. Your vows may feel a bit antiquated in your everyday life, but truly they are key ingredients to a great marriage.
With regard to sexual intimacy, what happens when we start assuming we know what our spouse wants or needs? Assumptions in the sexual realm can be particularly prickly.
We are most naked when we venture into sexual territories. We are emotionally and physically vulnerable, so if we start throwing assumption into the mix instead of genuine communication, we can quickly find ourselves worlds apart.
That kind of distance can have minor or major implications, depending on the circumstances.
Take for example the fact that I find my husband’s unshaven face particularly appealing. If he and I had not communicated about this, I would be missing out on something I desire. And my husband would be missing out on a way to arouse his wife.
Call me crazy, but I don’t want either of us to go without something that could be so profound in our intimacy.
A more serious fall out from assumptions sexually can be hurt feelings or even anger.
Let’s say one spouse assumes the other spouse will be receptive to something new sexually. (I’m not talking about something subtle like a new way to caress. I’m talking about something that has never been tried and has the potential to cause a lot of anxiety, such as a new position, a sex toy or oral sex).
Instead of kindly asking for the spouse’s input, the one who desires more creativity simply initiates something new during lovemaking. Wow. Some may call that brave. I call it incredibly poor judgment. Maybe even blatant inconsideration.
The road to authentic intimacy is paved with clear and tender communication. It leaves no room for sexual intimacy that is pieced together with assumption.
If you are like many married couples, you may find it particularly challenging to communicate about sex. Don’t beat yourself up. Honestly, you would find a lot of company in the camp of “We Just Don’t Know How to Talk About Sex.”
Instead of staying stuck in communication paralysis, start initiating healthy change.
If you find it difficult to directly start a conversation about sexual intimacy, here are three tips:
1. Start small.
Let’s go back to my example of my husband’s occasional unshaven face. In a non-sexual setting, I went to him and gently put my hands on his scruffy face and said, “It really turns me on when you occasionally don’t shave.”
He smiled. I smiled.
No big conversation, but we communicated a wealth of information. Plus, I was addressing something he was likely going to respond to positively.
Small steps can lead to big steps. You can cover a lot of ground when you regularly use a compassionate tone, and eventually you will find you can address more sensitive topics regarding sex.
2. Write a letter.
Some people would argue this isn’t direct communication, but I think a letter, written with an emphasis on love and oneness, is a great way to gather and share our thoughts.
You can even say in the letter, “I wrote this letter because I wasn’t quite sure how to verbally initiate a conversation about our sex life. I wanted to give you time to think about what I’ve shared. I’m hoping we can talk in person about it soon. I’d like that.”
3. Initiate a conversation while on a walk together.
There is something about side-by-side conversation that can be easier than face-to-face conversation.
I’m not saying that face-to-face conversation isn’t vitally important in marriage, because it is. I’m simply saying that with some topics, we can share our feelings and thoughts more clearly as we are doing something else with our spouse, like taking a walk.
These three tips certainly are not comprehensive. As you read this, what other tips would you contribute that could benefit others?
What is so great about strengthening your open communication about sexual intimacy is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes (communicating, that is. But I suppose the same could be said of sex!)
Plus, as you both become more comfortable talking regularly about sexual intimacy – your desires, needs and concerns – the more likely it is that you will be able to better understand each other in other areas as well.
As individuals in a marriage, we are all constantly changing and growing. When I speak on sexual intimacy, I often point out that we each are not the same people we were when we stood at the altar. I’m barely the same person I was last week!
With each passing day, you and your spouse are consistently bringing new experiences, maturity, wisdom and desires into the marriage. When you look at it from that perspective, it’s easy to see how dangerous and damaging assumptions can be.
I don’t know about you, but I relish a marriage that banishes assumption to the sidelines. Truth be told, assumption rarely sees much success on the marriage field – or in the marriage bed.
You’d be wise to bench assumption indefinitely.
Julie Sibert speaks and writes about sexual intimacy in marriage. You can follow her blog at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two sons and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer dog who refuses to stay in the fence.