November 16, 2012

Flirting with Your Spouse

The news of Gen. David Petraeus  scandalous affair sent shivers down the spines of many married folks. When taken with the fact that many couples complain that their love life isn't what it used to be, the risk of affairs is on a lot of people's minds. Today we're discussing how a little flirting can go a long way to protect your marriage from affairs as well as  to put the spark back in your relationship.

What is Flirting ?
We all know what flirting is but we might be embarrassed to talk about it.  Flirting is being playful about sex with words and gestures.

Why don't couples flirt more ?
Most of us do it when we first meet our mates, but the mystery is why do we stop ?  There are many reasons.  Fatigue, stress, not enough time in the day as well as resentments and anger are passion killers.  But I think that there are 3 huge obstacles to marital flirting:
1. Uncomfortable attitudes about sex.  For many married folks, sex is an embarrassing topic and something which is difficult to feel relaxed about let alone playful.   Playfulness is the essence of flirting. If you can't be playful, you can't flirt.
2. Ignorance. There is a commonly held romantic myth which says that feelings of desire are either there or they're not and there is nothing you can do to get them back if they're gone. Total nonsense !  In fact, passion and romance need ongoing nurturing and care to keep the fires burning.  Flirting is a fundamental way to nurture the romance in your relationship.
3. Discouragement.  Many couples have stopped flirting because after having a few bad experiences, they simply give up and stop trying.  If you feel hopeless you're not going to flirt.     

Why is Flirting Important ?
Our Insecure human nature.  It is important to remember that most of us need help when it comes to our physical and sexual self esteem.  We need reassurance.  Knowing that we were attractive to our mate years ago doesn't help in calming the common anxiety that we may have "lost it". 
Flirting provides re-assurance that we still "have it".  
Reduced vulnerability to affairs. Not only do we and our partners need frequent reminders and reassurance, not flirting can send a negative and unintentional message, i.e. I don't find you attractive and I don't desire you.  If you feel unattractive to your  mate, you become more susceptible  to flattery or flirting from someone who isn’t your mate. 

A Myth about Flirting: A common reason for not flirting is that I'm too busy and I don't have time for sex. This objection is based on the myth that flirting must lead to sex.  In fact, marital flirting is not foreplay and it doesn't have to lead to sex.  Flirting simply means I find you attractive and I want to have sex with you... sometime.

How does one flirt with one's spouse ?
Flirting can involve small gestures or words that express affection and interest and even naughty thoughts and wishes- a pat on the bum, a compliment about how nice one looks are flirtatious as much as more explicit comments or actions.  Messages, texts, videos and cards that are sent for "no reason" are flirtatious and romantic and have a huge impact .

What if you don't feel like flirting? 

Don’t ignore your lack of desire. Explore why you aren’t in the mood.  You discover you’re stressed or too busy or angry at your spouse, do something about it.  If you realize you have trouble being playful about sex, or if you’re discouraged don’t keep it too yourself.

Talk it over with your partner. Remember, given all the stress and obligations in family life, romance doesn't just happen, it requires nurturing and care.

Ask yourself "Have you neglected the romance in your life?  Guys know that they have to take care of their cars if they want them to run right.  Likewise, relationships need care and flirting is a good way to keeping romance running smoothly.  You will be amazed what a big difference a small gesture can make.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One more thing. Romance is an essential part of a good marriage which will last a life time, if you don't neglect it.  If you or your partner has lost desire, talk about it and explore why things aren't so good. Don't give up or resign yourself to a less than exciting marriage.  It doesn't have to be that way. There is effective treatment.  If necessary, seek professional help.                                                                         
                                                                                                                              
The Rev. Michael Heath prepared these remarks for Bridge Street   11 16 2012. 

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