Sex is an incredible—and enjoyable—gift that remarried couples may neglect if not nurtured to meet one another’s needs.
by Gil and Brenda Stuart
Your bedroom is a good barometer of how the rest of your relationship is going. The buck will stop here if you are not addressing issues outside of your bedroom—and remarried couples face plenty of them, from visitation schedules to a stepchild who is no longer speaking to you.
If your barometer is showing stormy times ahead, take action now. The first step is to understand some typical differences between men and women’s perception of sex. For men, sex can be purely physical, but, frankly, many men say sex is better when they know their woman is connecting with them—a real turn-on for them! Says Gil: Men tend to be more like microwaves: Push our button and we’re ready to go.
Women, on the other hand, typically prize the mental aspect of sex: Being their man’s “one-and-only” gets many women going and allows them to more fully engage in the physical aspect. Says Brenda: Women tend to like to be slow cooked: Get us dialed in and we will show you a good time.
Armed with this awareness of differences in perception, partners can begin to create a supportive environment for a nurtured sex life:
- Strive to keep lines of communication open by maintaining trust and honesty in your relationship.
- Do not be a poser—be yourself!
- Avoid hiding behind the demands of the kids, work, or life.
- Keep your emotional channels of communication clear. If you don’t, it will all come back to bite you in the bedroom, and no one will “win” in the end.
In her book Surprised by Remarriage: A Guide to the Happily-Even-After, Ginger Kolbaba says that, when it comes to their sex life, remarried couples need to pay attention to eight points. The following four are especially are critical, in our view:
Talk about sex. “Sex is a form of communication,” says Kolbaba.
We interpret this point to mean share your heart—how you felt. Gals: Believe it or not, your man needs to know he has satisfied you, but also wants to be aware of what you like or dislike is part of a loving sexual relationship so you both can enjoy and be comfortable with this deepest aspect of married life.
In his DVD Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, Mark Gungor offers a fun way to have a healthy discussion about sex, while enriching and strengthening your marriage at the same time(see www.laughyourway.com). His “Keys to Incredible Sex” segment describes right and wrong approaches to sex. He takes a quick census of how women view exclusiveness and its effect on how they perceive sex, and discusses how pornography can be an unwanted intruder in the bedroom.
Kids kill spontaneity.
Yes, Kolbaba makes a good point here. We suggest putting a lock on your door. Knowing your privacy is secure and understood is important. Whenever possible, you want to be able to take time to enjoy your sexual relationship without interruption.
Make foreplay an all-day event.
Expanding on this point, we suggest, guys, that you learn your woman’s love language and become fluent with what you can do that will communicate to her that she is loved and cherished. Start by checking out the website www.5lovelanguages.com. Remember: It’s not all about the sex; her strongest sex organ is her mind. Foreplay is getting her excited mentally for the “play.” Your part is to be nice—genuinely from the heart. Tell your woman she is beautiful. You can communicate with your woman in a number of ways throughout the day via texting, e-mail, and the old-fashioned phone call, or try leaving love notes for each other.
And gals, consider the following: Are you being his “girlfriend” throughout the day? Would you want to come home to you? Keep in mind that it’s okay for you to initiate romance. Take a risk and buy something new to surprise your guy. What’s his favorite color in lingerie? Express your sensuality. Talk about what clothing (or none) turns you both on.
Know when to seek counseling.
Sex is a huge act of trust. If a former spouse had an affair, your ability to trust could be affecting your remarriage bedroom. People who have deep and intense pain usually need professional help to work through it. Sexual issues are no different, so seek sound counseling and accountability to achieve healing. While in counseling, do not take any sexual backtracking personally; rather, face it with empathy, which, in the long haul, will create space for further healing and a healthy sexual life with your partner.
What ‘Nurtured’ Sex Is Not
A key to creating a satisfying sex life in a remarried situation is to understand what sex is—and what it is not. Having only cyber sex or watching pornography, are, in our view, inconsistent with a nurtured sex life. Sexual addiction or being a prisoner to your self-gratification sexually is not a self-expression of love—to yourself or your wife/husband.
If your sexual relationship is lacking, taking on a virtual partner may seem to fill the gap at the time; after all, a cyber partner is less likely to talk back or disagree with you. But what happens when that virtual partner or the graphic magazine pictures are no longer fulfilling? A risk is that a partner could conceivably move on to unhealthy associations or habits, including an extramarital affair.
Keep Past Unhealthy Uses of Sex in the Past
Men in general and women to some extent can be pulled into a prison of false security that does not require them to be emotionally engaged with one another. Two of the highest forms of selfishness are to ignore the issue of sex or use it as a weapon to get your way. Both motivations are unhealthy, and if either were in your experience from the past, take action to change an old habit. Sexual expression in marriage is for connecting at the deepest level relationally not for manipulation of your partner.
Frankly, putting the past in the past is easier said than done, so our recommendation is to get clear of misconceptions immediately. Building trust in the bedroom is a must. The hazards of comparing your spouse to a former sexual partner is a potential trap; consciously choose to not fall into it! Rather, focus on “it’s about us now.”
Realize that healing deeply in areas of sexuality will call upon you to offer forgiveness to yourself or your spouse or whoever caused hurt. Do not withdraw. Sexual issues are connected to the core of a person. When encountering such deep issues, rifts in the soul and personality can extract anger, fear, discomfort, insecurity, and, most important, the ability to trust.
After gaining perspective and healing in these sensitive areas, Gil found that the sexual experience got even better, describing it as like opening a box of TNT in a dark room with a lit match! Gil asked, Would I find new freedom by getting close enough to the TNT to know if it would explode? He found that TNT (or, as he puts it, “trusting naked truth”) in the here and now could explode, but the risk outweighed the chances taken to connect even deeper emotionally in the present marriage.
Your new marriage is just that: new! It is what you make it to be, and if you allow the past to leak into the present, you lose twice.
Relax and Enjoy the Journey
Past choices and experiences will interface with the deepest desire a couple shares—that of an exclusiveness that was dashed against the rocks of divorce. Now in remarriage, you are rebuilding trust and honesty. This is not the time to get stuck in what was, but enjoy what is! Bonding sexually is a lifelong process between a husband and wife. It will take a lifetime to figure each other out—if that is even possible—thus keeping things exciting and always new!
Getting away to make time for the fun factor or shared recreation is as important as making time for “making out.” Marriage partners who are truly friends tend to show respect and admiration for one another. How well do you know your spouse’s “love language”—that is, how he or she likes to spend quality time, what acts of service your spouse engages in, what physical touch brings him or her pleasure, favored gifts, and words of affirmation that have great meaning for your partner? Can you name the top two without a second thought or without having to ask your spouse? If not, you have some homework.
Friends know such things about one another, and lovers are better lovers because sex is an extension of loving the person at all levels possible, including spiritually. Put another way: The more aspects you learn about one another or explore together, the deeper the connection you’ll form with your spouse—and the better the sex.
One thing that we like to say and you may wish to remember: “If you ain’t got the marriage, you ain’t got nothin’. ”
Gil and Brenda Stuart, who live in Vancouver, Washington, have seven children, ages 19–30, between them. Willing to speak from their own stepfamily adventure, the Stuarts share heart to heart as they walk the walk. They created a seminar, workbook and the online resource, Restored & Remarried which delivers a fresh style of encouragement to blended families. For more information, see www.restoredandremarried.com.