"You mean I still have to flirt," Rachel asked me, as we discussed ways to spice up her sometimes stagnant marriage. "Surely there must be another way."
A bit of background. Rachel and her husband, in their mid-30s are a highly educated couple, and have been married for 7 years. They have 3 kids and live on a Yishuv. They both travel to work in opposite directions, one to Tel Aviv and the other to Jerusalem. Needless to say, the strain of working 6 days a week, without much outside help, doesn't leave this busy duo with much spare time or space for fun.
They came to couples therapy because they reached a point in their marriage where they felt little space for fun and adventure. They want to feel more alive and excited, but it's hard to get those feelings when they're both so busy – after helping the kids with homework, feeding them dinner, giving baths, story and sleep-time, there remain piles of laundry and never ending tidying up.
It's often when a marriage reaches this point that couples mistakenly believe they have fallen out of love. Except they haven't– the seriousness of life has just gotten in the way. Like many couples, they have become a well-oiled machine that functions superbly at getting on with the day-to-day humdrum, but with little room for fun and levity.
This couple, and many others like them, are dying for some fresh air and a recharge. They have forgotten, or perhaps they never really knew, how to balance fun and responsibility.
One way couples can make things feel easier and lighter is to flirt. While many mistakenly believe flirting is just for the early part of a relationship, those who make flirting a regular mainstay feel more connected, take life a lot less seriously and as a result feel more alive.
Without realizing it, we all know how to flirt. Some of us are better at it than others. We are encouraged as small children to meet new people and be friendly. We know how to encourage people to pay attention with our engaging smile and twinkling eyes. Experts at flirting naturally make great eye contact. They tilt their chin in the right direction and have an openness in the way they speak that invites others to notice them. They have an enthusiasm and excited way of speaking that engages the listener using multiple senses.
Those who are shy have different ways of showing interest. They may glance and look away when feelings become too uncomfortable. They may accidentally touch and pull away quickly, laugh nervously, smile sheepishly, but they make an effort especially as they receive encouragement from the person whose attention they are seeking.
We flirt when we try to get someone to notice us before marriage either because we have to, or because we feel a certain chemistry that ignites our interest. Then, after marriage, especially after children, as more and more demands are made on our lives, as sleep becomes a precious commodity, we stop.
Just when we need it the most.
Flirting is cheap, relatively easy, low maintenance,time efficient, and something that can significantly enhance your connection with your partner.
It makes sense to make it a part of your daily life.
Top flirting tips that will keep the spice alive and well in your relationship:
- Spontaneity: Let each of you bring this to the relationship. It's the little things that can either build or destroy a relationship. Make a list of things that make your partner happy that you can do quickly; a cup of coffee with some whipped cream, a back rub, a handwritten note or picture you snapped with your phone that you know will make them smile. Have an assortment of small treasures that you can surprise your partner with, when it is least expected. .
- Even when things feel grim, always look for the funny side. If a meal goes bad, laugh about it. If you put your foot in your mouth, apologize, then laugh. Laughter when planted well can be flirty and alluring. Do it often! (Not to be used when your partner is totally angry at you)
- Give a mini foot or shoulder massage– Lots of people think a massage has to be long and laborious. It doesn't! A quickie 5 minute massage focusing on one part of the body can do so much to make you feel close and loved. If you can face each other while doing this, make sure to glance up at one another from time to time and appreciate the enjoyment you are giving to one another.
- Give a strong meaningful glance– Take time to look deeply into each other's eyes in a joyful and playful way. Make sure to smile.
- Leave little flirty messages around the house expressing things you like or enjoy about your partner.
- Send a steamy Whatsapp message or Glide video message. Be sure it's deleted right after so the kiddies don't get to it.
- If you feel angry, take a moment to let the emotions die down before talking. Create a calm and friendly space. Get the laughter back on track, quick!
- Choose an unexpected place to be playful, and make it an important part of your lives. You can use little sayings, cute just between the two of you jokes, nicknames, or a light touch. Pull it out whenever, and wherever, but try and be discreet.
- Hold hands every chance you get.
- When you're in a crowded place like a Simcha or even a Shul kiddush and you're not near each other, glance over at one another from time to time and give a wink or a smile.
- Departures and arrivals are great opportunities to reconnect and show you care. When you leave home, say something like, “Can't wait to see you later.” When you come home from work, do something to make your partner feel you're glad to see them. When your partner comes home, stop what you're doing and focus on them for a minute.
- Have a recurring joke or line that you can pull out to lighten things up.
- Have a secret language full of words only you two understand.
I'd love to hear what you do to be flirty with your partner as I'm always looking for new ideas. Drop me a line and let me know the most flirtatious thing you and your partner do to keep the spice alive, firstname.lastname@example.org.