Linda: If we define love making broadly, we can make love anywhere, any time; and many couples do! Having sex is what most people mean when they use the phrase. Of course, sex can be a wonderful form of lovemaking, and is a real expression of love for one another. Lovemaking certainly can include sex, but it doesn’t have to be limited to it.
In fact, one of the things that can diminish the depth of feeling in a marriage is the failure to use non-sexual means of expression to show appreciation and connect with each other.
Consider the story of Jim and Judith.
Jim: “Early on in our relationship, we decided to see how creative we could be regarding different ways of expressing our love. When we defined lovemaking in that way, we began coming up with all kinds of ways of celebrating our connection with each other. We both find sex very pleasurable, but it’s only one manifestation of lovemaking which can take on infinite variety of forms.”
Judith: “Lovemaking is about sharing the experience of affection with each other. You make love whenever you respect each other and appreciate each other for who each of you are. When we actively seek out creative ways of pleasing each other and bringing more joy into each other’s lives, we are making love. When we each are doing this for each other, it just doesn’t get any better. It creates a positive flow that then extends out to others.
“For example, Jim loves dogs. I’m not that into dogs, but since they are so special to him, I buy him cards with dogs on them. I found a pencil with a doggie eraser, a dog refrigerator magnet, even a Kleenex box with dogs on it. When I give him dog things it means, ‘I see who you are and what is important to you. I honor who you are.’ Lovemaking is affection, care and playfulness.”
Jim: “Judith’s mind works differently than mine. She has a lot of trouble relating to the computer. I thought she was having tantrums at first and it was really annoying. I began to understand that her mind works differently than a computer. When she has a problem with the computer, instead of reactivity from me on top of her frustration with technology; I contain my impatience and solve the computer problem with her. We are making love when I recognize Judith for herself, not the projection of who I want her to be. Then she feels really loved.”
Judith: “I love Valentine’s Day, but Jim doesn’t care about it. Last Valentine’s Day, he made seven Valentines Cards with stickers and put his own original poetry on each card. Every day for a week leading up to Valentine’s Day, he placed a card somewhere where I would find it. I got one propped up on the toilet with the seat down, of course. There was one on my computer when I came home from grocery shopping. Another appeared on my pillow one evening. The whole thing cost three dollars, but it meant so much to me that I am going to frame them. His gift and my receiving it, that’s making love.”
Jim: “Listening, admiring, respecting, and showing care are all ways of making love. But, just as important, is the kind of lovemaking that occurs when you’re willing to confront. When I see Judith doing something that I know will hurt her, I’m willing to risk saying so. Because she’s sensitive to sugar, if she’s about to order pastry or ice cream for dessert, I might ask, ‘Do you really want that?’”
Judith: “My ability to graciously receive Jim’s feedback is also a way that I make love with him. I know that not only is he my spouse, but he is also my ally. I need his feedback, and he needs mine if we are to grow into the best that we can be. Because I really trust Jim’s love for me, I hear his feedback as supportive, rather than feel criticized by it. I trust that he always wants the best for me as do I for him.
“Jim is an outdoor person and very close to nature. Since I grew up in the city, whenever there are fireflies, he always lets me know to make sure that I enjoy the moment with him. Where we live there are beautiful lunar moths with iridescent, pale-green, ten-inch wingspans. It’s common for Jim to run in yelling, ‘Judith, you have to see this!’ He wants to bring beauty to me, and that it is certainly making love.”
Jim and Judith told me that they found that any difficult issues that arise in their marriage almost always relate to unresolved issues from their childhoods.
When such issues come up, they address them right away so that they become less prominent. Their willingness to face directly all that life presents, rather than avoid what is unpleasant is what has brought ever-increasing passion and fulfillment into their lives.
They both have a full-hearted committed to finding all sorts of creative ways to make love. They tell me that they’re sure that’s what makes their relationship continue to become better and better and better.