Today we have a guest post from Sheila Wray Gregoire from To Love Honor and Vacuum
When we walk down that aisle, we do it because we’re sure that the man waiting for us is the one who will make us happy for the rest of our lives.
It usually doesn’t take long, though, for the realities of marriage to start to intrude. He leaves his dirty socks on the floor. He doesn’t do dishes. He prefers watching sports on Sunday afternoons to tackling household projects with you. He used to make your heart skip a beat, and now that you’ve heard him belch and seen him in ratty T-shirts he’s just not doing it for you anymore.
No one can sustain that butterfly-in-our-stomach infatuation for life. But that doesn’t mean that we’re destined to lose love. On the contrary, I’ve found that after twenty years my husband can still be the man of my dreams, even if he’s carrying some extra pounds, even if he snores, and even if he doesn’t share my hobbies. Here’s how:
1. Don’t Compare Him
Your husband is not Brad Pitt, or Ryan Reynolds, or Ryan Gosling. In fact, not even Ryan Reynolds is Ryan Reynolds. The Ryan Reynolds that we know from The Proposal isn’t real; that character who broke through Sandra Bullock’s hard shell and who followed her all over the continent was a figment of a screenwriter’s imagination.
So try, as much as possible, not to give in to “chick flicks” or romance novels (even Christian ones) that create unrealistic portrayals of men who are strong and decisive yet also incredibly sensitive, while sporting 6-pack abs.
If you want your husband to be the man of your dreams, then watch what you dream about. Don’t put thoughts into your head that are going to cause you to think, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if he would just….” Buy flowers. Bathe the kids. Dance with me in the living room.
Instead of immersing yourself in chick lit or chick flicks, do something with him instead! It’s a far better use of your time, and far less likely to lead to criticism.
2. Find Things to Praise Him For
When I was first married, I loved telling Keith, “I love you.” But one day he responded in frustration, “I know you love me. What I want to know is WHY.” When men know that we believe great things about them, they soar. When they question whether we really appreciate them, they retreat.
If you want him to be the man of your dreams, then, start calling out the good things you see in him. Everyday, mention two things that you love. “I’m so amazed that you can fix a car engine. That saves us so much money!”, or “I’m so glad you were there to take on the customer service people instead of me. I can never stand up to them the way you can.”
A funny thing happens when we start to look for things to praise. We then start thinking about our husbands in a more positive way, too!
3. Don’t Try to Tame Him
Many of us marry men that are slightly wild. And yet as soon as we marry, we frequently try to tame them. A woman will start berating her husband for doing “manly” things, and encouraging him to start acting more like her. She makes him learn how to color coordinate clothes. She encourages him to bond with the kids. She wants him to learn to scrub a toilet.
None of these things is wrong in and of itself; it’s wonderful, and even necessary, for a man to have a good relationship with his children. But often we want him to have the same relationship with them that we do. We want them to clean the way we do. We want them to care about the things that we do, because at some level we feel superior. We understand family; they understand sports. So we’re the experts, and they need to bend to us.
Fifteen years later, this wild man has become boring. She looks at him one day and wonders, “where did the love go?” The love went because she tamed the man out of him. God made him a man, yet we figured we could improve on it.
Let him be a man! Encourage friendships with other men. Encourage him to have hobbies apart from you. Encourage him to negotiate his own relationship with the kids. It was a man you fell in love with, so don’t reject that man now.
4. Embrace a Healthy S*x Life (I apologize for the use of astericks here but I am trying to avoid being blocked by the filters that many women wisely use in their homes. I know they like to read my blog and I get emails saying I’ve been blocked and emails from women thinking I’m afraid of the “s” word – I’m not . The astericks are out of service to women with filters…okay moving on…)
Finally, embrace s*x. I’m not saying “he needs s*x, so you should give it to him”. Don’t just have s*x with him so that you can feel like you’re being a good wife; realize that s*x is for you, too. God created it to feel stupendous. And if you’re not experiencing fireworks, embark on a research project to get there! When I wrote The Good Girl’s Guide to Great S*x, I found that it often takes 15 or 20 years of marriage for women to settle into their sexuality, and that’s okay.
Unfortunately, many women let s*x fall by the wayside because we’re tired and we’re busy and it seems like a hassle, but if you want your husband to stay the man of your dreams, then you’ve got to make sure that you’re regularly connecting with him. And a funny thing happens when we start to make love more. We produce “oxytocin”, the bonding hormone, which makes us feel closer to him. He feels closer to us, too, and becomes more affectionate. Even if s*x isn’t always physically wonderful, it can be emotionally wonderful if we concentrate on how much we love him. And, the more we make love, the more our bodies learn to respond. When we stop making love, or start doing so with far less frequency, it actually becomes harder to become aroused. Increase the frequency, and our bodies respond faster, we sleep better, and we feel closer to him.
It’s easy to become dissatisfied with your husband when life gets busy. But you can keep him as the man of your dreams! Yes, it takes some work and a decision on your part. But there is nothing that is more satisfying that walking through life beside someone who knows you inside and out, and still chooses to be with you. That’s a beautiful thing, and don’t ever take it lightly.
Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great S*x, which explores how to experience spiritual intimacy, emotional intimacy, and physical fireworks through s*x in marriage. She blogs everyday at To Love, Honor and Vacuum. She and her husband Keith have been married for twenty years and have four children: two teenage daughters on earth, and two babies waiting to be their tour guides in heaven.
Thank you Sheila for these amazingly wise words! You have been a blessing in my marriage!
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