I think Philip Galanes's "Social Qs" -- found in the Sunday New York Times -- is fabulous. Philip writes like a dream, and his advice is witty, targeted, and filled with film and literary references. (Plus his fascinating, revealing interviews are not to be missed!) One of the generous things about both his interviews and his columns is that, in a completely non-self centered way, he let's his readers glimpse into his own life.
However, Philip stunned me in his Aug. 3 column. His was a helpful and kind response to "Anonymous in New York," who called her marriage "good," described her hubby as her best friend of nearly 15 years, but was troubled by his public jokes about their sex life, "implying that it's boring or nonexistent." Toward the end of his feedback to Anonymous, Peter shared: "No one (I know) in a relationship even half as long as yours is thrilled by his or her sex life."
Now, I am not telling you what I have not told Phillip: In an email to him (we have never met) I told him that his words were sadly reminiscent of those of poet, writer, philosopher Henry David Thoreau, who believed that most lived lives of "quiet desperation" and went to their graves with their "song unsung." It does not take a great deal of insight to see that poor Henry David was sexually repressed and frustrated!
Yes, it is easier for things to get hot, hot, hot sexually -- to see yourself as singing away -- when relationships are new, and two people do not really know each other. As years pass and real life responsibilities set in, things may not be as hot as easily. But "songs" will be far deeper than they were earlier if couples invest and think of couple-hood as a living entity that must be fed. So here are six ways to "sing," fulfill, and be fulfilled in committed love. They take time, but what worthwhile in "the 'to be continued' department" does not?
1. Sensuous Date Nights: No matter how demanding your lives, plan regular date nights -- once a week is great, but at least once every two weeks is imperative. (Alternate who is planning these evenings.) This can be expensive; friends can help each other with child-care. No iPhones welcome! Talk to each other, and each other exclusively, over wine and dinner. Sometimes check into a hotel. Even if you do not stay all night, it will be fun and change; and change is a lot of fun in long term marriages. On a previous date night, explore each other's fantasies, and have fun with them at your hotel. Only fantasy stuff and a toothbrush goes into your travel bag!
2. A Sense of Humor: Things go wrong in sex, even with best intentions and a great deal of love. (Let's get real. It can be far easier to have stress free sex with one there is no future with, or you do not genuinely care for.) So see the humor in sexual love. Laugh. Do not take things that go wrong personally. I love the comedian and actor George Burns' quote about his wife, Gracie Allen (his professional partner until her death), and him in the boudoir. To paraphrase: "We had more laughs in bed than we ever had on the stage."
3. The Importance of Making Your Love Feel Good With Words You Sincerely Mean: Each day before you leave each other, tell your partner you love him/her. And each day remember to tell your partner of something you saw her/him do or say that you found very special, very funny, or very generous. Find your own "very." Look for these special qualities. They are there.
4. Kiss hello and goodbye, like you mean it. And mean it! Remember, a kiss is a promise. I have a good friend who said that the best sex education he ever had was watching his parents say "goodbye" each morning and "hello" each evening.
5. Do Not Fear An Argument, But...: Do your best to focus on issues, without demonizing a partner. If things start to get out of hand, take the hand of the other, say you love him/her even when he/she drives you crazy, and that you will resume when things can be calmer. If "calmer" cannot happen, find a good therapist.
6. Comparisons With Other Couples Is A Waste of Precious Time : Do not let yourself feel jealous of what other couples seem to have. (You never know what is behind closed doors.) Instead, build on what is possible for you to have. Do not trust the depth of commitment and sexual/emotional fulfillment of those who exhibit their sexual love for all to see. Usually this kind of exhibitionism is a "show." It is not intimate love. In other words, Jay Z and Beyonce are a business! Love is personal and private, and enduring sexual love and expression is a love letter for two people only.