Want a hot marriage? I’ll tell you how to begin. | Handel Group

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Want a hot marriage? I’ll tell you how to begin.

A hot marriage. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?

I’m here to tell you it’s possible. You can have a sexy, intimate, loving, and FUN marriage, even after over 20 years together. Yeah right, you might say.

Here’s the thing—I didn’t always believe it, either. In fact, there was a time when I had what I would call the exact OPPOSITE of a hot marriage. My husband Will and I were steering a sinking ship. We weren’t having sex. We were hardly talking. And then (ugh) I caught him making googly-eyes at my assistant. My ASSISTANT! 

Yeah. I had to figure out how to fix the leaks—fast. Thank God, I had my coach. She urged me to go into triage mode right away. So I asked my husband for a talk. And (taking her advice), I asked him for real feedback. What could I be doing better? [Besides, him!]

And after some hemming and hawing, he came out with it. Turns out, I was an INTERRUPTER. And not just a “once in awhile” kind of way. More like the “why would he want to be in the same room with me” kind of way.


Thankfully, I married a man who is indeed, deep to his core, a good egg (googly eyes were short-lived and a well-deserved wake up call). Learning how to listen to my husband was revolutionary and built the foundation for the great marriage I enjoy today. My coach knew once we had basic respect back in place we could work on getting it hot again.

When I look back on this time, I realize that I saved my husband from cheating and I saved my marriage. Will and I have now been together for 24 years.  Thankfully, I was up to the challenge of doing a lot of work to make my marriage hot and love strong again. If I did it, you can too. And, because I know that eggs, good or bad, crack, I keep doing the work.

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So what’s it take?

First, you have to do some background work. Will and I both admire our parents’ marriages and don’t discount how important that is. If your parents never taught you or modeled how to stay in love, you are at a disadvantage. You’ll have to learn from scratch, after you’ve already passed the most optimal stage at which to learn (your youth). But don’t worry, because you can find new role models. Keeping a marriage hot and solid is something you can learn even if it doesn’t “come naturally.”

Speaking of coming naturally (and yes the puns will continue), part of the reason people get so frustrated with keeping romance alive is because they’ve been conditioned by movies and common culture to believe that if you are with the “right” person, all the romance and spark should come as a matter of course and last forever. I want to teach you a different love story. Sure, love, romance and hot sex usually come easily when we’re young or when the relationship is young. After that, it takes some work. I mean, if you are simply sitting back waiting to feel butterflies again, umteen years into the relationship, without realizing YOU are in charge of their very flitter, take a seat, you’re in for a long and irksome wait. This realization, that it takes something to keep love alive and hot shouldn’t be viewed as an injustice or a burden, but rather an opportunity to grow yourself up and take charge of your life. [This perspective works, by the way, in a lot of different areas, not just love.]

I had to accept that it’s actually my job to keep love and intimacy alive (for my own happiness and to keep my partner from cheating) and that it’s a privilege and a fun game to do so. If you’ve now accepted the same premise, let me give you some suggestions. There are some major reasons I know my marriage will stay hot (and my husband won’t cheat on me). First of all, he won’t because, well, he values fidelity and honesty. But, that’s a boring answer that doesn’t really get at the work needed to keep love strong.. Plus, I’ve done a lot of work to get here, so I figure I’ve earned the right to share. Here’s my list for you to consider:

1) He has the power to please me sexually and otherwise.
It’s really important that your partner can please you and knows it. I know that seems simple and obvious, but many of us withhold our pleasure on purpose as a way to control people. We learned this at a very young age when we’d throw a tantrum to try and get candy or more time in the pool or attention from our parents. The idea is to withhold your happiness until you get what you want. Instead you get a messy, teary power struggle and you blame the other person.

For years, I used the tactic of withholding my own pleasure from my husband, and not just in the sexual arena, but in every arena . He couldn’t drive right, do chores right, have conversations right or “loosen me up” in bed. How convenient that my satisfaction was all his problem and his failure.

Except isn’t sex a team sport?

Growing up means making your happiness and pleasure YOUR problem and challenge to solve. As soon as I figured that out, life got soooo much better for me and for my husband. I am now generally pleased with my life and what’s in it, because I have designed it that way. And I know that it is my job to like what my husband does. So, either I get to liking it or find a great and graceful way to tweak it.

Turns out what he told me is true, I do catch more bees with honey. You should try it too. Pretend it’s nobody else’s job to please you, only yours, and then pretend you are NOT ALLOWED to be displeased. How would you train people? What would you ask for? Whom would you thank and for what? What different choices would you make?

2) We make regular time for each other and treat it as sacred.
We have a bedtime and we honor it every night, to the minute. We both acknowledge how important regular face time is. During this time, we have a ritual with questions we ask each other that are designed to cause intimacy and reveal all parts of ourselves. I have to tell him what I am proud of in our marriage, how I succeeded that day, whom I connected with, where I played the victim and what I love about him. He has to tell me everything he doesn’t want to say, whom he connected with, what bad traits came up that day, his successes and what he loves about me. We also re-assess our wedding vows and re-write them every year on our anniversary, and then we give ourselves grades on how we are doing at keeping them each week during our nightly ritual. In a recent year, I promised to listen more deeply than ever and to have my best year yet, and he promised to make eye contact and manage his time beautifully. See? We invent new and fun conversations about life, and our love, that are just ours, and that is what keeps us connected. {Read:  And you can, too.]

3) It’s safe to talk about sexuality in our house.
Sexually, he is allowed to like what he likes and so there is no sneaking. Even if I don’t want to do everything he likes (and vice versa) there is no shaming about any of it. Those topics are sacred and protected. If that is not the case in your partnership, please take a good hard look at why not. What are you afraid of? What is your partner afraid of? What wounds are unhealed? I had to do plenty of work on myself to understand that I am not the same as my partner, and I don’t have to be, and none of it is personal (unless it is).

4) I make him my hero.
I am now in the business of finding what I love about my partner (because I chose him!) rather than what doesn’t work. I like to catch him being my hero. Whatever quality you want to see more of in your partner, start seeing it! I recommend you write down all the times you “catch” what you want to see. Most (if not all) of us have been in another sport altogether, evidencing what sucks about our partner. Cut it out, okay? Stop cheering for the wrong team and get on your’s.

5) We are involved in each other’s lives.
Seems obvious, right? Do you know what your partner does with his/her time? Are you talking about it? I’d notice if Will was not home or where I expect him to be. We are intimately involved in each other’s lives and we like that. You do not have to have the same preferences or spend all your time together, but please think something is fishy if there are weird gaps in communication or understanding what your partner’s life is like. Please do not persist in denial.

6) I have sex with him.

As long as we are on the obvious part of the list, here is the final, most important way to keep a hot marriage going; keep it hot! It’s amazing to me how true the cliché of the sex fading with time has become. Once again, cut it out!! Take a stand and lie back down in bed with that person you loved enough that you committed to him or her. Just get back on the bike and ride, it really does come back to you. Do NOT wait to be in the mood. And, psst, you just so happen to be in charge of your own mood. But, nice try.

I did the work to get my mojo back (and my husband, too). Are you ready?


P.S. A marriage is much more likely to stay happy and hot if two people are on the same page going into it. That’s why at HG we urge our clients to get clear on what they want when they’re out looking for the one. Join us for our upcoming FREE Tele-Talk, Date Like You Mean It, on July 26 and learn how to find your one (or just have fun). ‘Cause if you don’t have a target, how are you going to hit it?