couple in bed sexI have slept for most of 30 years with my husband spooned around my body. Like two swans.

Anaïs Nin says this: “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” And this is true.

All relationships change. It’s an evolution. They will never be the same from one month to the next or one year to the following decade. When I was 17, I didn’t need a “Fifty Shades of Gray” to get excited or turned on.That was not in my consciousness yet. I was who I was at 17, and I was whole and complete.

It was enough for my then boyfriend, now husband, to kiss me. I swear to all that is holy that I had an orgasm with that first kiss. All that I needed was his lips to touch mine.

That same kiss to me today, from my beloved of 33 years has a completely different delicious flavor today. And it’s a kiss of the deepest love I think I have ever experienced. The kiss is not a climax and toes don’t curl anymore.  The kiss is not the taste of a long desperate yearning or the thrill many of the erotic games and rituals that I so deeply enjoy and love in this place in my life.

I don’t share that with this man 33 years later. I share something evolutionary.

It is the kiss of a man with an incredibly big heart that opens to me and sees me with incredible beauty.

It’s the gift of trust and of allowing me to always evolve without leaving me. That’s the kiss. The kiss of extraordinary relationship loyalty.

The gift of loving someone so completely that you can see them as 17, or holding your baby on an operating table near death, or the kiss of our empty nest. Or holding you while your grieve the losses in your life. Or dancing with you and cheering at each small victory that life brings. It is the kiss of comfort when your “outside relationship” is stretching you and you want to cry and kick and scream. And he says to be patient, and quiet and not to make a mess. How about some popcorn instead?

Not everyone will get to taste this unique, rare kiss of extended loving over a life time. It takes a certain willingness to stay.

It takes a willingness to be looking at what used to work, and shifting to what works now.

It takes a willingness to learn how to replenish love’s source, as it’s source is always changing.

It takes a willingness to kiss the wounds and the tarnishing that all relationships experience.

It takes a willingness to love through change without judgement.

Today, as I opened my eyes, my husband reached over me and held me in his arms. His mouth reached down and offered me his kiss.  Again.

So how did we become marriage or long term relationship “survivors” and “thrivers”?

1.  Be willing to look at the need for connectedness and space to create a balance.  Fires need air.  Don’t do everything together.

2.  Practice erotic privacy, not secrecy.  If one of you wants to watch porn, or has a sexual desire that you want to explore without your partner, talk about it and do not hide it.  Secrets corrupt a relationship and everyone needs some erotic privacy. Privacy is different than lying and sneaking around. How do you have what you need and do not want to share with your partner without having a secret?

3. Being willing to be uncomfortable with the idea of allowing each person in the relationship to have experiences outside of the relationship. Whether it is a bicycle trip across the county or going to a sexuality retreat for women.

4. Being willing to stay when you are bored, not turned on and totally restless and realizing that no matter who you choose to be with in life, “New Relationship Energy” fades and eventually you will get to this place again. So how do you work with it?

5. Do something unexpected in the relationship like work with a “Marriage Whisperer” and go on a private retreat for couples or attend a sexuality workshop for couples. Doing something spicy and edge pushing is sometimes exactly what a couple needs. We get stuck in routine and we think that “these kinds of experiences” are not for us.  Yes, they are.

6. Being willing to be truthful when needs and desires change.

7. Look at yourself. How are you doing? Do you need to do something for you and your relationship with your body and your sexuality? Usually this is work that each person has to do on their own too.  We all need to evolve too. What are you doing to keep evolving? When was the last time you spoke to someone about sex, relationships, and your changing body? Do you have your own “Pleasure Plan”?

BONUS:   Pay attention.  The biggest gift that long term couples can give each other is attention and presence. Are you holding hands? Saying “I love you” or noticing each other? Notice. Compliment and cheer each other on.

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