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Unromantic Marital Relationship Between Couples: "the perfect marriage"

By Muhammad Muawiya Alkali
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In my article "Unromantic Marital Relationship Between Couples: Factors in Play", published in January 2019, I pinpointed some factors that are responsible for lack of romantic ardor in marriages. I wrote extensively on the role played by our cultural upbringing which somehow foists certain restrictions on the enjoyment of marital relationships; the unfair use of certain childhood moral compass to sail through the ocean of marital relationships. I also highlighted the role of improper or complete lack of sex education and orientation.

More also, I elucidated how poor communication nibbles the enjoyment of the most sacred institution - marriage, and how unrealistic expectations add to these factors, especially in this prevailing era of materialism, lust and infatuation.

Consequently, I received several feedbacks, most of which were constructive criticisms on the notion that 'the blind can neither lead those with eyes nor can he lead the blind', meaning: I cannot fully know what is going on in matrimonial homes since I am not married; that I would not understand the institution of marriage provided I have never been in one.

Unbeknownst to many, I do marital counselling and relationship therapy, therefore, I have a great deal of interaction with the contemporary issues in matrimonial homes. In addition to that, I interviewed several couples across tribal and religious boundaries before writing the prequel, just as I have done before writing this. In this sequel, I would dwell more on how to achieve "the perfect marriage", if at all such a thing exists in our wildest imaginations.

Understanding your partner's language of love

It doesn’t matter how much you love your partner if your way of expression does not meet their perception. It is often said that love has no language. This is literally not true. In fact, love is the most language-sensitive relationship. However, the language of love differs significantly from the human languages we know. It differs from person to person. The languages of love are in different forms and it is as important to understand which language your partner uses in expressing love, as it is the language they use in perceiving love.

Verbal expression is undoubtedly the most known and widely used language of love. So, it's quite easy to express and perceive love using this language. Yes, it is easy in practice, but very complex in principle. It is easy in practice because all one has to do is express their innermost feelings for their partner verbally using the human language they both understand, and all that is required of the partner is to listen and comprehend. On the other had, it is complex because of certain principles that must be adhered to when expressing, as well as when perceiving the message. These principles include; clarity, attention, consistency, timeliness, feedback, adequacy and few others. Therefore, understanding and making proper use of these principles while expressing and perceiving the verbal language of love is of utmost importance.

Women, unlike men, need a constant reaffirmation of love. They expect their partners to always tell them how much they love them, not just verbally, but with some emotion that accompanies the words which might prove more significance. A woman would not mind her partner telling her how much he loves her a thousand times daily, and she will show more appreciation if he says it passionately. Therefore, men should make that a habit, telling their woman how much they love her. Exaggerate where necessary, be romantic, express your love for her publicly, she will feel special and you will win her heart.

Majority of men, however, think it is belittling to express their love publicly for their spouses and somehow, perceive it as a betrayal to their masculinity. That is not only wrong but also foolish. There is an anonymous quote that says "the real power of a man is the size of the smile of the woman sitting next to him". So, a real man makes his woman happy with his words, actions or any other means that would put a smile on her face.

Just as there are certain things encouraged in verbal expression of love, there are also ones that couples should avoid; demeaning and denigrating negative remarks that are emotionally hurtful. Women in most cases put down their partner's effort when they compliment them. A man would let down his ego, compliments his wife, expresses his feelings and she will respond "Thank you" and that's when she is being kind because some will just say "Um-hum". That is invidious, insensitive and disrespectful. Learn to appreciate, commend and use positive language when reacting to a compliment.

Explore the secrets of selective generosity: the material language of love

Gifts, another crucial aspect of love language. Exchange of physical items between couples is highly underrated, poorly utilized and unfairly ignored. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Give gifts and you will love one another”- this statement cannot be any less true. Women find it very romantic and pleasing when they receive frequent gifts. The most impactful of gifts is that invented by your hands or thoroughly thought by your mind; be it a love card, poem, flower, a book, customized mug or shirt. Yes, they also appreciate expensive gifts too, but the small frequent gifts matter the most to women. You can take your wife out for an expensive dinner on your anniversary or buy her something expensive when she delivers, it would strengthen your marriage. Men, however usually prefer expensive gifts even if it's once in a blue moon. Buy him that expensive shoes or that watch or his favourite perfume, it'll melt his heart.

Break as many barriers as you can: the physical language of love

This involves basically two different but complementary factors: romance and intimacy.

Another issue is that some couples are afraid of breaking barriers like it's some sort of circle that must be maintained as if there is a sacrosanct method of physical language of love. Most people don't think outside the box to explore different but healthy methods of expressing the physical language of love. One of the partners may be adventurous but the antediluvian mindset of the other can change the adventurous one. Couples must end the stereotypical mindset that a specific gender must always initiate the physical language of love. Women have this mindset that romantic initiation, say gift, kiss, hug and what have you must be from the man. Men, however, usually need more intimacy and give less of the not-so-intimate but the romantic physical language of love, even when they do, they don't take their time, they jump into the intimate physical language they so desire. Women, however, appreciate more of the romantic physical language of love and find it repulsive when their man jumps to the intimate physical touch without going through the romantic physical touch, they feel they are being materialized - as mere sex objects. As a man, initiate the romantic physical touch; kiss her, give her a hug or a simple massage - just that, don't go any more. In doing so, she will willingly show advances and you will get the intimate physical touch you want, and everyone will be happy. If the woman does not get what she wants, she would feel unloved, sad or depressed and that brings forth a boring and unromantic relationship.

There are certain things which can spice up the physical language of love and make it more expressive, at the same time well perceived by the other partner. Eye contact, an essential recipe. Eye contact differs significantly and here, I don't mean the difference between a romantic gaze and a stare with deadly eyes on a floating flat face. No, I'm referring to the different types of romantic gazes.

Leil Lowndes in her book "How to make anyone fall in love with you" explained the different types of eye contact; the Bedroom Eyes (Copulatory gaze), the Sticky Eyes and the Visual Voyage.

Use the bedroom eyes, gaze at the most attractive part of your spouse's face, concentrate, then initiate the second type of eye contact - the Sticky Eyes, glue your eyes to your spouse's for a little while, passionately tell them how beautiful they are, wear a smile when telling them. America's highest-paid and most widely read female journalist and columnist at the time of her death, Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer who was widely known by the pen name Dorothy Dix said, "there is no weapon in the feminine armoury to which men are so vulnerable to as they are to a smile" and the legendary Jamaican singer and one of the pioneers of reggae, Bob Marley is associated with a famous quote that says "smile is the most beautiful curve on a woman's body". Hypnotize him with your voice, it's also a powerful tool in your arsenal, incite love in him.

Men, follow with another type of eye contact; the Visual Voyage, while your eyes are still glued to each other's, take a tour of her body, turn her on with your eyes, hold her, touch her waist and pull her close, talk to her passionately, kiss her slowly, hug her tight and live the moment affectionately.

Women should not relent in their pursuit of a fulfilling romantic relationship when their husbands are not that romantic, take charge, initiate the moves, give him the necessary push, teach him if you have to. Men are the easiest beings to tame, they are just giant babies, discover his toddler button, be his candy store and you will have him do what you want.

Help each other; you both own the castle
Spend quality time, give her your attention not just the quantity of time but live the moment together. The mindset of most men is when they get married, they are kings and must be treated as one. This is not anything shameful if he will treat her like the queen she is, but no, she is an unappreciated slave who must carry out all the house chores.

Some draw certain lines; this is my duty and that is yours – having everyone be in their domain. It shouldn't be like this. There can't be a romantic relationship between a king and a slave, this is unhealthy for the relationship. Help each other. Try the other partner's work, help from time to time, men should not be commanding rather they should try house chores like cooking, doing dishes, cleaning etc. Some husbands tend to be very commanding, "do this, do that, fetch me this, bring me that" and most of these are small chores he can do himself. This can scare the woman and she will not know what to do to spice up the marriage, she'll just stick to the duties he mentioned.

Women, on the other hand, should appreciate men’s effort in taking care of the financial responsibilities and appreciate him from time to time because understanding each other's responsibility and appreciating them is also very important.

Love yourself
Ladies, as soon as they get married, they are told or are made to think that everything is about their husbands and not them, their happiness depends on him, their love depends on him, forgetting an important fact; that you cannot give what you do not have. And so, applies to the men. You can't be romantic if you're not in love with yourself. You can't make someone happy if you're not happy.

As Robert Morley said, "to fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness" and Wayne Dyer said, "If you don’t love yourself, nobody will, not only that, you won’t be good at loving anyone else. Loving starts with the self." Therefore, love yourself because it's only then you will learn how to love others.

Muhammad Muawiya Alkali writes from Abuja, Nigeria Email :. [email protected] Twitter :. @mm_alkali