I’ve been married for 12 years and with my partner for 15 years. That’s a long time to be with someone especially in today’s world. My husband is also my business partner and the board chair of our nonprofit. We spend a lot of time together. We married at 23 and 24-years-old – babies essentially – who had no idea what-the-hay they were doing with their lives. Most of our 20s was spent trying to make ends meet while pursuing career paths that were purposeful and meaningful. We barely had time for fun and by our late 20s were too tired most nights to be intimate on any level. I wish I could say our 20s was spent partying and sowing our oats, but that ship had sailed only a year after graduating college.
Then came our early 30s and ahh…we started to find a groove. We began to build financial security and started traveling quite a bit. We were in all-out career mode, pursuing our dreams and saving money all the while. But somewhere along the line we forgot to incorporate passion and desire into our relationship. We often acted as business partners that loved each other very deeply, but rarely made time to be lovers and to experience pleasure as a couple.
As we entered our mid-30s something started to shift. We both found ourselves more curious about life and began seeking out experiences that brought joy to our hearts. We started traveling even more, which inherently expanded our lust for life. We became even more fascinated with nature, beauty, art, food, music and people. We learned to linger in the moment, soaking up every sunrise and sunset, every morning cup of coffee and every evening glass of wine, every step in a new place and every smile we came across along the way. Through these pleasures it became apparent that the pleasure between he and I was somewhat lacking. Our relationship was surrounded by incredible things, but we weren’t doing enough work as a couple to keep a strong intimate connection between us.
As individuals, it’s natural to evolve and to find new passions that light us up as we explore the depths of ourselves. It is not always natural to do this with a partner. To keep a relationship interesting requires effort and new ways of seeing each other. Each person needs to make the other the number one priority (yes, even if you have children). You are the pillars of the relationship and if you have children you are the pillars of the family.
And as for sex and desire – it is crucial for couples to experience this in their relationship to keep it alive. We need to possess an entire inner world between ourself and our partner that combines all the outer pleasures of life – travel, imagination, play, curiosity, fire, education, art, beauty, passion and so on – all within it. And it needs to continuously grow and expand and thrive. We need to constantly feed it with new energy and light or it will whither as our outer world expands. The relationship will inevitably contract to the point where there is no other choice but to move on or surrender to a lifeless partnership.
As for my hubby and I, we’re still learning how to build this inner world – it’s a pretty complex and fascinating thing to create. Three years ago we traveled to Europe and spent almost a month visiting London, Paris, Munich and Zurich. Life there felt different – slower, more deliberate and definitely more pleasurable. We would spend hours at cafes and take long walks in some of the continent’s most beautiful parks and museums. We lusted over amazing food and imbibed lots of macchiatos and wine. We made time for friends and spent many a outings just wandering – eyes wide open – to new discoveries. Most importantly we felt connected and our relationship felt renewed.
New Jersey is certainly no Europe, but I do believe we can recreate the simple pleasures we experienced during our month abroad. In fact, it really takes nothing more than a glass of wine and holding each other’s hand to step right back into our beautiful secret world that only he and I can share.