Kiss me baby, please

This is the second of a three-part series on psychological advice for newlyweds.

Kiss me baby, please. (photo credit: MCT)
Kiss me baby, please.
(photo credit: MCT)
This is the second of a three-part series on psychological advice for newlyweds.
Show your partner you love and care for them in any way you can Small gestures like complimenting your partner, making them coffee or tea, asking them how their day went, saying “I love you,” holding hands, buying them small gifts: all are displays of affection. Many husbands buy their wives flowers for Shabbat, and many wives like to cook their husband’s favorite meal.
However you show it, it’s important to establish early on in a marriage that you do not take your partner for granted.
No matter how busy you are, it is essential that you also take adequate time to enjoy the high points and make each other feel special. A good question to ask yourself is, “What can I do today to convey to my spouse that he or she is very special to me?” Romance and lovemaking A primary predictor of marital success and happiness is healthy sexual intimacy. Yet for too many couples, physical affection and sex dwindle after the honeymoon.
So let me highlight what clinical experience and research has demonstrated about this topic.
Don’t stop kissing. You’d be surprised how many couples stop kissing each other on the lips. Why this happens may be a function of losing excitement over your partner, or treating lovemaking as a mechanical and/or obligatory function in marriage. But taking out the kissing in lovemaking is described as a surefire way of creating distance and lessening intimacy.
One writer and advocate of kissing throughout marriage describes it as the most intimate part of lovemaking; it’s where the heart and soul meet. Indeed, whenever I instruct couples who have stopped kissing to resume, they inevitably tell me they feel much more connected to one another.
Besides enhancing intimacy, kissing has certain proven medical benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing cavities, burning calories (as does having sex), and making one feel more happy and serene.
Men and women: Sexual arousal pathways are not the same Men and women travel quite different paths to getting turned on.
Sexual desire in women is extremely sensitive to environment and context. One psychotherapist-writer notes that women often state their desire originates much more between their ears than their legs. She explains that for females it is more about the anticipation and how you get there; it is the longing that is the fuel for desire. Accordingly, women like to take it slow and enjoy the journey of being caressed, kissed on the lips and touched gently.
In contrast, men are straightforward and tend to focus their imagination on immediate gratification. For males, the act of having sex is itself the emotional connection; most guys don’t need or desire the slow path to lovemaking.
Men need to be taught and socialized to be good sexual partners. It is crucial for them to learn to understand what women want if they are to make their partner happy. Paradoxically, when men make love to their spouses slowly and follow their wives’ cues about how to turn them on, they get some amazing rewards.
In all fairness to men, women don’t get men either.
Men need to explain to women what they enjoy, and both partners should be prepared to find a mutual meeting point that will incorporate both of their preferences.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to good communication to achieve mutual learning and understanding of how each gender works, so that each partner can do his/her utmost to keep the flames of passion alive, and enhance excitement throughout the marriage.
Now, I understand that for newlyweds, disclosing such sensitive and intimate revelations can be threatening.
But experience has shown both in couple’s therapy and research studies that opening up and talking about lovemaking at the beginning of your marriage, if done with sensitivity, can be enormously gratifying for newlyweds.
It may take time and couples may need guidance to do so, but clearly the rewards are worth it.
Explore each other’s interests No matter how much a man may not enjoy a romantic comedy or a women may not relish watching a sport event, if it matters to your partner, it may just be worthwhile to give it a chance.
He likes to watch television; she wants to play a game of Scrabble. Although you don’t have to do everything together, by trying out each other’s interests you may discover something new about your partner – and surprisingly, for many, about yourself as well (e.g.
“That Scrabble game really made my wife happy, and it wasn’t all that bad.”).
One of the best ways to deepen your bond is to find activities that are enjoyable and fun to do together.
Household chores: Sort this out early in your marriage Some joke that foreplay for a woman is her husband having the dishes washed and the laundry put away. But dividing up the housework early in your marriage is one of the best ways to minimize and prevent conflict. In fact, studies have found that women, more than men, strongly believe that chores should be divided equally, and if not, will negatively affect their marital satisfaction.
Perhaps you both have preferences for certain jobs – i.e. your partner does the cooking and you do the washing up. I have found that some partners choose a certain job because they are good at it, or avoid a certain job because they detest it. For example, he doesn’t like cleaning the bathroom, and she doesn’t like taking the garbage out. However you choose to do it, make sure you settle the matter fairly so neither of you feels taken advantage of.
The writer is a marital, child and adult psychotherapist, with offices in Jerusalem and Ra’anana; he also provides online videoconferencing psychotherapy.