Here are a few touchstones for noticing what’s gone missing, or what you’d like to see in your primary intimate relationship(s). Use this guide to consider the quality markers most important to you and treat it as a conversation starter —there’s plenty left unnamed.

Awhile go, as I celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary, a few co-workers asked me what the most important ingredients for a lasting, happy partnership were. I fumbled for words —recalling happiest moments and what I regarded as critical features (physical connection, creativity, and adult play), yet I couldn’t name the top five ingredients for a vibrant partnership …and, perhaps, that’s alright —one size does not fit all.

This guide, my attempt to answer that elusive question —what’s essential for a happy marriage— is offered with the humility of knowing I won’t get it right for all, and the hope that it may spark a juicier vision for others. I look forward to comparing recipes.


PLAY …Explorations into the wild frontier of different and unusual sensibilities.

Sex:  Finding the sensory dials (tactile, olfactory, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, staged fantasy) that ignite your pleasure receptors and deepen connection.  Practicing the give and take of being adored.

Flow:  Creativity and fun in another’s company —finding balance points in joy and grief.  

Eroticism:  Adventure seeking and risk-taking for curiosity sake; tolerating uncertainty.


LOVE …A visceral connection to the essential spark of another being.

Intimacy:  Sharing a sensual language of beauty, shared understanding, and cherished rituals that evoke peacefulness and feeling at home, apart and together.

Loyalty:  Consistently showing up in the physical landscape (time/space) of the relationship; bringing unique richness and aliveness to the table.

Autonomy:  Merging with another while holding boundaries of self, intact.  Asserting power while staying soft; no need for bracing to protect one’s interests.


SPIRITUAL SCAFFOLDING …Resourcing the flow of forces bigger than oneself.

Wonderment.  Awe and respect for life and natural resources; naming what is precious.

 Generosity:  Giving without receiving or prompting; uncensored, joy-filled receiving.  Suspending expectations of gift giving; cherishing felt support.

Witness:  Mirroring the essence of another without interpretation; holding presence; deep noticing. 


EASE in Self …Comfort in the sensual language of one’s body, emotional center, and psyche.

Solitude:  appreciating aloneness in the heart of relationship; discerning one’s truth apart from another.

Safety:  showing up with authenticity and wholesome regard for oneself, while opening to another; exploring common ground essential for connection.

 Flexibility:  the ability to forgive and forget less desirable attributes in oneself and another while finding new ways to balance and reconnect.

Copyright 2018 Elanah D. Naftali