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“The most direct route to a man’s heart is through his… stomach,” my grandmother told me when she learned I was engaged to be married. “You’re going to have to learn how to cook, Rachel,” she told me bluntly. “You can’t have macaroni and cheese every night and expect him to stay satisfied.”
I may have been young, but I was not naive enough to believe that my grandmother was only talking about food.
It turns out, my Grandmother was right. Macaroni and cheese is delicious — but a diet of only macaroni and cheese won’t keep a couple (or their sex life) healthy for years to come.
Sex doesn’t just feel good — it is good for you and for your relationship. Physical touch triggers the release of oxytocin, a chemical in your brain that promotes feelings of attachment, contentment, and helps reduce stress.
In my marriage, with two kids and sports seasons dictating our schedules, there is rarely enough time to connect with my husband in a drawn-out meaningful way. Instead, our sex life often mirrors how we dine. Although we love fine dining, sometimes we need good home cooking, and more often we run out of time and opt for drive-through fast food.
For birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations of sports victories, my husband and I schedule time to go out to nice restaurants. We dress up and take time to look our best for each other. Because my husband loves steak, but rarely gets it at home, we typically opt for a nice steakhouse. It’s the rare time when we splurge and read from left to right on the menu– to see the description of the food before reading the price on the right side of the page. We love the long drawn-out meal of fine foods while staring into each other’s eyes over candlelight. It’s indulgent and it’s infrequent, but it’s refreshing for our marriage.
Most nights, we cook at home. We each take part in the food preparation as we chat about our day. It gives us time to connect and to unwind. The food is delicious and it’s more practical than going out to eat. It’s often the same types of foods, but we vary the handful of meals and side dishes that we like best. We try to keep macaroni and cheese as an accompaniment, but sometimes (don’t tell my grandmother), it is the main meal.
Fine dining and home cooking are both great. But with two children, practice schedules, and game preparation, we don’t always have time to plan for dinner. Fast food may not be as indulgent or romantic as our anniversary meals or as healthy as home cooking, but sometimes it is our only option. It is fast, it does the trick, and we are satisfied until it is time to eat again.
There is no right answer about the type of food (or sex) that is best for your marriage. The happiest marriages consist of two partners who both go out of their way to be sure that their partner is satisfied. Do you prefer fine dining, home cooking, or fast food? Talk with your spouse about what works for you. Be honest. How often do you want sex? Are you sick of fast food? Wishing for more fine dining? Having shared expectations helps couples stay on the same page. We don’t skip meals just because we don’t have time for fancy dining every night. Neither should we make excuses for not having sex in a healthy marriage.
Rachel Terrill, Ph.D., is an instructor at Northwest University and spent seven years in the field studying NFL relationships while her husband, Craig Terrill, played for the Seattle Seahawks from 2004-2011. She writes and teaches about love and marriage on her website www.rachelterrill.com.