By E.J. Gordon
One of my friends said to me, “Are we all going to go see Fifty Shades together on a girls’ night?”
My immediate response was, “Yeah, I’ll go, if I’m in the mood to hate my life.”
My friend laughed. She got it. It’s not that I’m unhappy. My marriage is a good one. Yes, we work at it, but it’s good. And sure, the book was erotic and exciting, but whips and chains and red room pain aside, reading Fifty reminded me of something else. It made me long for The Beginning.
In The Beginning, there was excitement. Not should we go to Cabo or Puerta Vallarta kind of excitement, but is he going to call me excitement. When the phone rang, my heart leapt — would it be him? In The Beginning, everywhere he touched me tingled. It could be my hand, my back, my shoulder, and I would be on fire.
In The Beginning, sex one time a night was never enough. And it was never work. And I never needed to “rally” or to imagine anything but what was happening.
We didn’t need scenarios or costumes or even lingerie. In The Beginning, every time he looked at me, I felt him undressing me with his eyes. I felt his longing. He made me feel sexy and beautiful and interesting and special. In The Beginning, our stories were new. I never heard, “Yeah, you told me that story three times.” He wanted to know all about me. And I wanted to know all about him. And there was no amount of time or sex that would satiate us. We always wanted more. It was new. And it was amazing.
We all know what happens to new love. Eventually it changes. Sometimes it fizzles out. Sometimes it burns long enough to get married. And for those of us lucky to be in marriages that work, the love never goes away. However, it’s transformed into something different. We make babies together. We mourn miscarriages and fertility challenges together. We bury family members together. We celebrate 30th, 40th and 50th birthdays together. We toast each other for our promotions and console each other in our disappointments. And we fight and fight. And if we’re lucky, we get back on track, and we love each other.
It’s just different. And by definition, it will never be The Beginning again.
So what do we do?
We don’t want to trash our marriages because the initial spark is gone.
We don’t want to squander the deeper, mature love that we’ve cultivated and worked towards, just so we can have another first kiss. (And let us not forget how hard it was to finally find the right person to marry to begin with.) How do we married people of 15, 20, 25 years regain some sort of excitement and wonder of The Beginning without really going back to The Beginning?
Five Ways to Bring Your Marital Groove Back
(AKA: Five Ways to NOT Hate your Life When you Go See Fifty Shades)
1. Don’t underestimate the power of words
Just as a digging criticism or a left-handed compliment can sit in our subconscious for years, so can a heartfelt compliment. To women: Tell him he’s everything you hoped for in a partner. Tell him how sexy he still is. Tell him how much you appreciate everything he does. To men: Tell her she’s even more beautiful today than she was when you first met her. Tell her why you love her so much. And do it often.
2. Look at each other, in the eyes
Speaking for women, we often feel ignored. I joke that I can strap a pineapple to my head and walk around with it for days before my husband will look at me and notice. Long gone are the days when he would gaze at me. I also have to admit that my husband will get his haircut, and I might not notice for days because I’m not looking at him either. We need to take the time to really look at each other and see each other.
3. Make out
In The Beginning, we made out all of the time. Now we can have sex several times without ever exchanging an oral germ. I do have friends that tell me that they still make out with their husbands. It makes me jealous. I remember watching Family Ties and seeing Mr. and Mrs. Keaton making out; why can’t my marriage be like the Keatons’? Where did that go? Kissing can be so intimate and sweet. And it’s a turn-on.
4. Get rid of the kids
In The Beginning, there were no kids. We didn’t have to halt relations to go lock our door or tend to someone’s anti-sleep shenanigans. We didn’t have the disagreements between us on whether our kids’ tummy problems were anxiety or gluten. We didn’t have the constant anti-romantic role of care-taker or butt-wiper. To get a little bit of that early magic back, we have to farm out our children and make some time for us, make some of our conversations not about the children, remember what it was like when it was just two and not four or five.
5. Be thoughtful
What happened to the little thoughtful gifts? There was a time when my husband used to come home from a work or a guys’ dinner with a to-go dessert for me. Now granted, I no longer eat gluten, dairy, or sugar for the most part, so he’s not going to do that anymore. But it’s not only the dessert that’s been sacrificed, it’s also the thoughtfulness. And me, I used to hand my husband the towel when he got out of the shower. Now I’m way too into my anti-aging creams and creepy old lady facial hair plucking to bother to turn around and hand him his towel. Bringing back the thoughtfulness can force our partners to stop and be grateful for us, and maybe even return the favor.
My husband and I stopped giving Valentine’s Day gifts when we became homeowners and needed to spend all of our money on furnishing or fixing our home. But this Valentine’s Day I’m bringing gifts back. My gift to my husband will be to bring back a little bit of The Beginning.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: E.J. Gordon is a freelance writer, a regular contributor to GIRLillaWarfare, and “Sexpert”. Have any questions or topics that you would like her to address? Remember: No subject is taboo, and Anonymity is accepted. Contact E.J. at: EJGordon529@gmail.com.