I'm on The Steve Harvey Show today talking sex. Check your local listings for viewing information!
Riley and I had invested in a couple of years of marriage, a mortgage and a baby when I realized our marriage was drifting somewhere between platonic love and relative indifference. The baby was asleep and I was washing dishes when my wandering mind wandered to a point that shocked me. I realized that husband of mine and I hadn’t touched each other in over week. I am not talking about “touching each other, wink, wink, nudge nudge”. I am saying we hadn’t held hands, tousled hair, leaned against one another in sleep in our big old bed. The thing that shocked my baby tired mind even more was the fact that with the not touching we were also talking to each other less, laughing less, building this life of ours side by side less. I saw that man every day and I still found myself missing him.
There were so many good and bad reasons that created the circumstances that led to the need for that kitchen sink revelation. We were both working full time. Our first baby was only nine months old. Riley was finishing up a degree in economics and math. I was struggling to find writing time in the hours after my demanding retail management job. Nine months after giving birth, I still didn’t feel like myself. Adjusting to a new role and new body had taken the wind out of my proverbial sails. (And the perkiness out of my literal breasts.) We were tired. We were broke. We were just making it through the day.
But that afternoon, as I cried over the man I missed, I decided that none of those reasons mattered as much as my marriage. I decided it was time to get to work. At the time, everyone was giving up refined sugar and processed foods for predetermined amounts of time. It was trendy to go 30 days without something. Well, why not decide to have sex for thirty days? An introduction of something into our lives rather than a deduction? Heaven knows, it had to be more fun that living without sweets for a whole month. When Riley got home, I issued the 30 Day Challenge over a dinner of bacon, eggs and burnt toast. It went something like this,
“Hey. If you want...you know...we could just have sex every day for the next month.” Really smooth. His eyes got wide. “Ummmm. Hell, yes.” I’ve never seen a boy finish a meal so quickly. He was ready to, you know, get to work.
Ladies, I’m not going to lie. In those initial weeks it WAS work. Challenge was exactly the right word. This had nothing to do with Riley. I just had months, years of bad thinking and bad habits to undo. I had to get over wanting to lose “ten more pounds.” I had to work towards the understanding that I deserved great sex just as much (if not more) as the man in the relationship. I had to reunite my physical and emotional selves. I had to re-learn how to accept and rejoice in the fact that physical expression was one of the ways that Riley expressed his love for and faith in me. I realized all over again, the importance of accepting and returning that expression. I had to remember that sex is really, really fun. And perhaps most importantly, we both had to learn the art of finding time for one another. Whatever the day held we HAD to connect. Sometimes that meant early morning sex and other times it meant after midnight “let’s get it on”. Sometimes we had twenty minutes and sometimes we had two hours - the point wasn’t necessarily the time, the point was to make the time count.
It took about two weeks to get back in the, ahem, groove of things. By the time the third week rolled around, I was pretty happy to be rolling myself...if you know what I mean. I was craving our time together - both the physical and spiritual intimacy that we were learning to carve out of our crazy days. We made out on the couch, made love on the bed...and car...and kitchen table, and held hands while we watched movies. When Riley got home from work, I’d run to him and he’d kiss my forehead. While I wrote he brought me a coke on ice and brushed the hair from my face. Our thirty day sex challenge energized every aspect of intimacy of our lives. In the moments before and after sex we’d hold each other and talk about our worries and hopes and small and big moments. We talked more during the day, too. More texts, more calls to and from work. We started building and dreaming together again. I found my desire to serve him again and he found his to serve me. After months, maybe even years, of working near each other, we were now working FOR each other. And yeah, those butterflies? The ones that so many of us think we’ve left in our youth? Those came back.
A few friends who knew about our crazy 30 day idea asked what I hoped to get out of it. Over lunch one day, I finally found the right words,
“The heart of our marriage was in cardiac arrest. This is the bolt it needed to start beating again.”
When the 30 days ended, we kept having sex, although every day is sometimes more of a goal than a reality. What do we do every day now? Every single day we find time to be intimate with one another. We find a way to truly see one another and be seen. Sometimes that means making out, sometimes that means deep discussions or hand holding while watching bad TV. Sometimes it means all three. How often do we have sex? Five times a week tends to be our normal. That doesn’t mean it has to be yours. I can say that we wouldn’t be in this place - this soul filling place - without the sex.
The rules of the 30 Day Sex Challenge are pretty simple.
1. Only start this challenge with a good man who you love. Losers, abusers and chauvinists don’t deserve this OR YOU.
2. Both partners in the challenge need to understand that the act of meeting each others needs to happen inside and outside the bedroom. This isn’t just about the sex. It’s about working to fulfill each other physically, spiritually and mentally. The sex is the physical manifestation. Talk to each other to figure out your personal goals for the rest of your intimate life. For example: Riley and I consciously worked toward a better work/family life balance while we undertook the challenge. By the end of the 30 days, that striving had become a good habit just as much as the sex had.
3. Yeah, you have to have sex every day for thirty days. BUT, in extenuating circumstances, prolonged make outs can be substituted for the real thing. That’ll probably lead to sex, anyways.
4. Practice makes perfect. Don’t worry if you guys aren’t the Don Juan of married sex-ing. Just have sex. Read a few books. Give a few pointers. Laugh at yourselves. And have fun. Sex is just as funny as it is steamy. Don’t take everything so seriously.
5. And this one I wish I could shout from the rooftops. You need to take a part of every day to decide you deserve the marriage you’ve always wanted. You get to be loved and seen and your husband gets to have that, too. Your marriage is worth the work, because you are worth the work.
6. You can eat all the sugar and un-whole foods you want.
Joining in on the challenge? Email me your stories! The good, the funny, the in-between. I’m going to be featuring them during our October 30 Days of Sex month long celebration. I can feature them with your name or anonymously, just let me know! One lucky submitter of sexiness will win a one night get-away (with hotel and romantic dinner covered by moi) with the love of her life. More details next week. Until then, post and follow along with #30daysexchallenge!