Priming The Pump

How can a couple keep the fires of sexual passion alive in the middle of the humdrum, day-to-day routine of the average marriage? Believe it or not, this is a fairly common question. If it's come up recently between you and your spouse, take heart. You're not alone.

The solution is fairly simple – though implementing it isn't always quite so easy. You have to prime the pump of passion by keeping romance alive at the center of your relationship. This is a truth that our X-rated society rarely recognizes and hardly ever acknowledges: the flames of truly enjoyable and meaningful sex derive their heat not from gross sensuality, but from the gentle, human touch of tender romantic love.

This, of course, raises another problem. Maintaining the emotional excitement of "being in love" can be difficult once the logistical realities of marital life – work and chores and babies and bills – begin to assert themselves. It's in response to such mundane challenges that Dr. Greg Smalley and his team have developed a whole new approach to nurturing marital romance. They call it "Maximizing Marriage Moments," and it's all about making the most of the "connection points" that are already part of your everyday routine.

For example: what happens when you wake up in the morning? Instead of grunting and falling out of bed, try turning to your spouse and whispering "I love you" or "you're the best." Remember that your words can be powerful. They have the potential to build up your spouse and to add fuel to the flame that keeps your relationship vibrant.

Look for similar opportunities to connect in meaningful ways throughout the day. When you leave the house, kiss goodbye like you really mean it. Send each other intimate texts or tweets while you're apart. Get excited about seeing one another when you come home at the end of the day. Turn mealtimes into occasions for reconnecting and celebrating your shared identity as a couple. "Clean the slate," express mutual appreciation, and pray together when it's time to go to bed. These simple gestures can make a world of difference.

Over time, this kind of interaction can inspire a man to see "the wife of his youth" – his long-time familiar companion on the journey of life – through brand-new eyes. And there's no telling how a woman may respond when the guy snoring at her side suddenly wakes up and starts crooning sweet nothings in her ear. That's how you stir the flames of romance. That's how you prime the pump for more intense expressions of love.

It's not about "doing more" or "doing it right." It's just a matter of blooming where you're planted.

Date Night

Remember, always act like you're trying to get a second date! Sometimes in marriage we forget that we need to pursue and "woo" our spouse. So dress up a bit. Be polite and open doors. Compliment one another. Be affectionate – hold hands, cuddle and steal kisses. Remember to protect your date night from conflict by cutting off any arguments and agreeing to talk about the issue at a later time.

Step 1: Go someplace different for dinner.

Instead of visiting the same familiar locations and eating the same old food, pick somewhere new or try a different type of cuisine.

Step 2: Maximize Mundane Connection Points.

How creative can you be? Do you have what it takes to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear? If you think you're equal to the challenge, try taking some mundane task or chore and turning into an enjoyable night out. It could be almost anything that forms a part of your normal household routine – something that has to be done, but isn't particularly exciting to do. For instance:

Go grocery shopping. It may surprise you how much fun this can be, especially if it's something you don't usually do together. You can add a sense of adventure to the outing by driving to a store you don't often visit, maybe in another town or on the other side of the city.

If you don't have your own washer and dryer – or perhaps even if you do – take a trip to the laundromat and do the washing together. It can be an eye-opening experience just to watch the people who frequent such places. Bring along a board game or a deck of cards or something else you can do to pass the time together. Use this as an opportunity to talk about your relationship, your goals and plans, and to build one another up with your words.

Utilize one of our long June evenings to get out and work in the yard together. Pull weeds. Plant flowers. Make a new landscape plan – whatever suits your fancy. Just be sure that it's a task you can do side by side. This can be a great time to open your hearts to one another, share your dreams, and strengthen new lines of communication.

Step 3: Relax and unwind. Ready for a few questions?

After your activity, find a quiet place for dessert or coffee to relax and emotionally connect through good conversation. If possible, find a nice sidewalk café where you can sit outside and watch the changes in the evening sky. Answer the following questions. Be sure to keep your responses positive, uplifting and encouraging.

What was your favorite part of the evening?

What is the one thing you learned tonight that you didn't know about me before?

How can we build the kinds of simple but profound connections that foster the growth of romance at the center of our relationship? What can I do to build you up and encourage you to grow where you're planted?

Step 4: Home Sweet Home

On your way home, spend time planning your next date. Think about additional ways you can fan the flames of romance and passion in the days ahead. After you get home, it's up to you what happens next. Have a great final adventure!