Donald and Veronica are friends of ours who have been married for 24 years. Both hold professions in various coaching roles, Donald as a Leadership Coach and Veronica as an NLP Practitioner. They have helped many individuals develop in their personal and career journey and are passionate about seeing people discover their true potential and live fulfilled lives.
We decided to get their insight on a topic that is more personal in nature, yet important to address for a fulfilling marriage: Sexual Intimacy. This conversation is the first excerpt of three, from the FB Live Session we had with them in May 2021, hosted by Alex and Grace.
When it comes to communicating about sexual preferences, there are couples who aren’t comfortable enough to share what’s really on their minds with each other. How did you both come to a place of being able to communicate your sexual preferences?
I think what’s important is to know that sexual intimacy is only one part of a marriage. There are many other components that make up the marriage. We have a very strong marriage in the sense that we talk about a lot of other things and that has built layers and layers of trust and openness. When we are able to talk about other things openly, we are able to talk about this openly as well.
To be very honest, it’s only maybe in the last 8 to 10 years that we have really, really, come to the point where we are able to share what we feel. So it’s really not an overnight thing.
Yeah, from my perspective, we work at the emotional level first.
We got very comfortable and very secure, where if I bring up something that I can’t do or that I’m not comfortable with, she won’t judge me. So that took about 10 years. To be comfortable saying “Dear I’m so sorry, if you don’t mind, I’m too tired and stressed right now for love making…”
So it’s a lot of trial and error. Well, more trial, not error, because love making is enjoyable. But like Veron said, it’s only in about the last 10 years that we’re enjoying things more and more: the emotional, the mental, the physical, and the spiritual.
So I want to ask this question because this is very practical. If one person wants to get physical and the other doesn’t, how should the couple decide what to do ? I think this is a very, very common problem that a lot of couples face. Personally I think for me, I have a lower sex drive than Alex and I’m also always very tired. So sometimes I’m having that disconnect. What exactly should couples do to address certain things like this?
Find a time when you’re not tired? Does it have to be night time, right? Like… Oh look! It’s six A.M.! Haha.
Ok I have to admit, yeah, he’s a very morning person. So we hace more energy in the morning! As you grow older, probably you feel that, ok la the flexibility of now working from home. Anytime goes right! I think that helps a lot. And sometimes when I’m not emotionally or mentally in the mindset… Because I could be having a lot of things on my mind at the end of the day. I’m worried about stuff, work or just kind of toying through a lot of other things. The last thing on my mind is… I cannot just compartmentalize and put these things into a box and say, “OK. Now I’m done. All right, let’s enjoy our time together.” I have to dump all of the emotional baggage somewhere. And once I’m done with that, I actually feel a lot better and I can just be more present and focus. So for me, I have to deal with that emotional disconnect first. How do you guys deal with that? Do you face these issues?
For me, I totally agree with you, Grace. However, there have been days that I know that… just knowing your husband long enough and knowing that his body language is something that you would desire at that point in time. I’ve also learned to be mindful that, OK, this is something that he wants and I’d like to be able to please him or make his day, so to speak. So I’ve taken the time to sort of shift the things that I need to do and put it aside and then just enjoy the moment. So it’s again, having that mutual respect and trying to please him at the same time.
My response will be this. Just two things. The first thing is that we place sexual intimacy as a very high priority in our marriage. Just like emotional conversations, mental conversations. It’s a very high priority. So if anything, it’s a high priority. We will always allocate the time and space, for example, within the week if it’s Thursday… and nothing has happened for the week. So we need to get working at it. So we really talk about it and work at it just like anything else that we work in the marriage. The second thing is, we give each other this literally “green light” if Veron says, “Dear, I’m really not up to it” for whatever reason, I will just honour that. I will just say “Ok bye bye dear” and quickly just get to bed and don’t think about anything else. And vice versa…
When I get very stressed, a lot of things are running through my mind. The drive is not there, the desire is not there. And Veron honours that. So I think that’s where we are right now and we’re very thankful we can do that. But that’s not very often because it’s a priority area of our life. We enjoy talking about it and working together to enjoy it.
Yeah, I feel that when it comes to exhaustion and lack of desire we really have to find creative ways to spark that. Because a lot of times I feel that if we don’t make intentional effort, it’s just going to slide. Just like I think a lot of couples are like… If you don’t make time for each other after the kids are born, you know, to have date nights and to just pay attention to one another. Right. All these things are just going to slowly slide down a slippery slope. And in the end, like, I’m just having a roommate.
Yeah, that’s true.
A bed mate!
I think that the thing that competes most sometimes for each other’s attention is probably this [holds phone up]. I think sometimes technology does get to be a distraction or even work. So probably, you know, very intentionally putting away our devices, compartmentalizing work to say, “OK. The work day is over,” then let the family time begin.
No, but then for some couples also, they have the kids there between them in bed for years and years.
I mean we actually made an intentional decision to put our kids in their own beds when they were six months old. So that has helped our marriage relationship a lot, you know, because then we have that flexibility of having our own space and not having to worry about kids or anything like that. So we had those kinds of boundaries.
I think we set that kind of boundaries for ourselves initially in the initial years. So really thankful for that because otherwise …. it’ll be like… “Excuse me!” [pretends to push someone out of the way].
Otherwise you take over the kids room!
Otherwise you find creative locations!
Actually both of you mentioned something very interesting. I would say from the 20s, 30s to the 40s, and right now… there was a shift. For example, we used to enjoy the night time together and a lot of intimacy would be at night time. But when we got into our 30s which just demanded every aspect of us. I would say that night times are tiring and then the frequency would be affected. And then we’d say ok let’s just focus on weekends. But then after a while you realise it can be morning, afternoon, or night! So it really depends on your time and seasons of life. And what’s occupying you or what’s not occupying you.
Watch the full recording on our Facebook page here or look out for the next excerpt in this series. We apologise for the low sound quality of the video and we hope that you are able to still gain something of value from these short excerpts.
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