Passionate Kisses: Getting the Love You Want
The Sweetness of Long Lasting Love
“Passionate Kisses” is a Grammy-winning song penned by the American Alt Country performer Lucinda Williams and made famous by the 1993 single version by Mary Chapin Carpenter. In it she cries “Shouldn’t I have this? Shouldn’t I have all of this, and passionate kisses?” She shouts: “Is it too much to ask? I want a comfortable bed that won’t hurt my back, food to fill me up and warm clothes and all that stuff.” “Shouldn’t I have all of this, and passionate kisses from you?” One of my favorites for many years, her words are tucked gently into my mind and surface often in my counseling with couples seeking better, stronger, more resilient marriages. It is especially rewarding with marriages that have stood the test of many years, and life’s adversities, maturing into delicious, sustainable partnerships giving back ever increasing gifts. Raising children, building estates, discovering what matters most…it is in mature relationship that we know ourselves most fully and deeply. We discover what inspires us, but we also learn what may scare and defeat us.
How We Lose It
It’s deceptively easy to leave out the “passionate kisses” over time. We make routine at home and work. We forget to touch and linger. We assume our partner will “be there” for us when we turn toward them…sometimes for any number of reasons, some sub-conscious, we fear kissing with force and feeling and, instead, get by on “cheek pecks” and “air hugs”. Evenings spent checking Facebook. Too much time at the gym. Rarely alone with our beloved. This isn’t enough for healthy sexuality to flourish. The real thing is called “making love” for a reason. In our intimate, wet, hot, passionate sexual contact, we create an extraordinary experience that has staying power and a quality that can nourish our lives and give them meaning. It is an experience of magic and delight when we get it right, especially when it’s with someone who’s known us for a long time. How do we keep “passionate kisses” in our marriages? How do we keep “finding” our partner and friend and lover?
How We Get it Back
Internationally renowned couples therapist Hedi Schleifer refers to the “space” between couples as “sacred” and teaches that this “sacred space” requires maintenance, not unlike a garden. She warns that, if not “maintained”, the space will “self-pollute”. Vigilance is essential. Frequent tender dialogue critical. Without passionate, intimate physical contact, without our willingness to take risks and be vulnerable by revealing ourselves to our partners…the space will falter and become stale and produce stress. Hedy defines “intimacy” as “into-me-I-will-allow-you-to-see”. I ask couples seeking help if they’ve arranged their home to promote the intimacy they say they seek. So many of life’s central concerns, if poorly managed can deaden us to our partner’s needs. Excess work, excess focus on children at the expense of “mommy and daddy time”, failure to take good care of ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally, substance abuse and dependency. Dr. David Schnarch, author of the excellent book “Passionate Marriage” cautions that sometimes below our awareness, undercurrents of hostility and sadness may run through our marriages and keep us fearful, angry and distant. We grow afraid to try repairing our partnership. Unwittingly, we treat each other carelessly. Struggles over money and control can flatten desire and build resentment that undermine authentic, passionate connection. (And create fertile ground for extra-marital affairs.)
Mature relationships require constant “gardening”. Slowing down and spending quiet time is essential. Listening. Sometimes brief periods of marriage therapy can create healthy patterns that last a lifetime. The myth of “automatic erotic arousal” is an adolescent fantasy. If lucky, and mindful, we know more and want more as adults, and it takes effort to get it. Mary Chapin Carpenter asks: “Do I want too much? Am I going overboard to want that touch? I shout it out to the night: Give me what I deserve, ’cause it’s my right!”