I recently sent this tweet to Gav and oh how we laughed. Being married is THE BEST. I love it. I love him. But the sheer amount of life admin and domestic discussion involved in sharing a home (and small people) with someone is quite relentless.
Marriage is just texting each other “Do we need anything from the grocery store?” a bunch of times until one of you dies.
— Daniel Carrillo (@DanielRCarrillo) July 15, 2015
Our text feed is a rolling rabble of co-ordination, check-ins on children and reminders. Occasionally interspersed with something lovely or sexy. But it has always felt a bit off to proposition my husband in a feed where the previous text reads “You home soon? No cheese and I need it for dinner. Ps. Finn’s ate the plant’s soil again.”
Enter Esther Perel.
A Belgian psychotherapist who specialises in relationships and sexuality. A complete powerhouse, she is fluent (and gives therapy) in nine languages. Really. And one single piece of advice she gave has completely boosted my marriage. So much so, that any friends who have also implemented this have reported the same huge benefits (including one couple who were in therapy to resolve some difficult issues).
It all started for me when I watched her TED Talk and then read her book Mating In Captivity – which is all about how to keep desire and passion alive in long term relationships (and just happens to have the best book title ever). I then became addicted to hearing her inclusive perspectives, insights and buttery voice on just about every podcast she was ever featured on.
My interest in Esther and her work wasn’t born of any real, tangible issue in my marriage. Gavin and I have been ticking along happily. Ebbing in and out of flow with one another and navigating life and love with two small children. But after listening to her, I just found her so engaging and her insights so wise that I couldn’t help but implement the one thing that she repeats again and again in many podcasts I listened to.
Create a separate messaging channel for you and your partner where the only rule is that you cannot talk about domestic business. A place to be playful together and flirt. A place to send things like inside jokes, funny links, selfies and sexy things.
It could be a secret email address, but Gavin and I chose a separate messaging app for our phones called Signal. It works exactly like WhatsApp, but it separates our little private bubble from sitting alongside work chats or family chats in WhatsApp, which would have been a total buzzkill. The beauty is that I have no other contacts saved in Signal. So when I get a little ‘ping’ from Signal, I know that it can only be something romantic, thoughtful or sexy from my husband.
When I told Lauren on a call recently she jokingly said: “So what you’re saying is you just send each other porn?”. Haha. Which has been the initial reaction from a few friends. But truthfully, it’s not just given us a private place to flirt with each other, it’s also significantly upped the romance levels too. We’ve sent each other songs, quotes, jokes. The kinds of things we would have talked about in a pub when we first met.
Our only rules are no domestic admin and no negativity.
It’s like dating again and it adds a bit of fun into the day. When that little notification pops up on my phone with ‘The Husband’ on it, I know it’s not a problem to be solved or a task to be completed. He’s sharing something positive and fun, just with me. So I get that little spark of excitement that was so intoxicating at the beginning of our relationship. And to have a place to create that 10 years in and after two kids feels like a mega marital win.
Is separating the domestic with the romantic something that you currently do?
Or would you consider giving it a go? (I am unashamedly urging you to if so, it’s ace).