Tony and Alisa were very engaging and informative. So many times during the interview, I thought to myself, "This is me!" It seems so simple, but I keep thinking about Tony's point he made during the interview that the 7 Day Sex Challenge provides you with the "time" together that is so needed. It sounds so simple, but it is really really profound.
Tony & Alisa. The couple just celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary. It is something the couple really did celebrate on especially that the first 10 to 11 years of their marriage was a struggle. To start off, they were young - 22 and 23, and had almost all types of obstacles during their marriage: Tony had a pornography addiction that they worked together to overcome and deal with in their marriage; in 2004, they lost their baby at 18 weeks; and they had financial instability which added to more hurt and resentment within the marriage. On the 11th year of their marriage they decided to do something radically different.
60-Day Sex Challenge. They were in bed watching their friend’s daughter on TV, where right after that segment, a couple came in and talked about how they had sex for 365 days. The wife gifted this to her husband’s 40th birthday. Tony being the guy, his thoughts were “Holy crap man, we haven’t had sex. Maybe once a month and at times longer without.” Since Alisa was in the room, Tony said, “Hey, you know what honey, why don’t we do a 60-day sex challenge?” and Alisa responded by saying, “Absolutely not!” At that time, their kids were 2 and 5, they’re still in the middle of their financial crisis, and Tony had his own business that is supporting the family. There were all these factors that Alisa kept on thinking about if they went on ahead with the challenge which would be for 60 days and “This is one more person, wanting one more thing from me every day”. Alisa did not just say no at that moment but she went to the bathroom, went on to put her avocado green facial mask just in case Tony thinks he would get any that night.
The following day, Alisa went on to think about what Tony was trying to propose. She gets to understand that what Tony is suggesting is nothing too crazy but a time to be spent with his wife for 60 days. Alisa made up her mind to go thru the challenge, so when Tony went home from work, Alisa was like “Yeah, I’m in!”, and he was like, “In for what?” Because rejection was such a staple during those 11 years, Tony right away dismissed it. That Alisa is not going to say yes; however they ended up completing 40 out of those 60. That became the catalyst for the last decade of their marriage as well as all the change that happened including One Extraordinary Marriage.
Marriage Is A Priority. When asked what was the change or difference, they mentioned “They get to spend more time together” (laughter). They made an agreement to have sex every day and in doing so, they spend time together. You have to romance, connect on another level – not just an act that they were forced to do in the evening and call it good. Their time together changed how they want to be with each other and Tony admits that his outlook in life began to change for the positive. It wasn’t just the sex that he was looking forward to, but it was actually the time he gets to be with Alisa, because with a 5 and a 2 year old, it limits their time.
Alisa added that during that time, they learned to make their marriage a priority. Saying, “We’re really going to be intentional about how we spend our time” that carried over to the conversations that they were having, the attitude they were carrying and the decisions they were making. She knew that if she was going to be intimate with Tony, she could not be upset that she would be the one to take out the garbage or that she has to be responsible in taking care of their finances to stay within their cash flow plans so he does not get irritated they’re overspending. They understand that each has his own capabilities and responsibilities and moved away from the “score-keeping” mentality in their marriage. That was the time that they really played as a team in their marriage.
Understanding Their Marriage. They were then young, same as Tony’s business which at the same time is still growing. They had financial issues, but luckily they were debt free. They have a cash flow plan that works for them.
The next step was their sexual and emotional intimacy. They get to understand undergoing the challenge that these were two different intimacies that made a shift in their marriage which also took hold of their lives.Tony learned that Alisa had an innate yearning to talk. She wanted to talk. She wanted to let Tony know what was happening in her day and her life which for many years he would listen but wouldn’t really pay attention to.
After doing the 60-day challenge, he learned that, for Alisa to be sexually attracted to him intimately they have to spend time in a conversation. He had to fill that emotional piggy-bank for her. Once she gets everything off her chest and talk about it, it would change the whole temperature of their bedroom. It went from this cold and “let’s just get it done so we can move on” bedroom to a room of warmth and comfort. Of “Wow, I was able to express myself” and then move on to the foreplay and have the sexual intimacy that they truly desired in their marriage but had not yet experienced.
Intimacy Lifestyle. They’ve had their focus on their marriage after the challenge, which is why they started to shift into what they call the “Intimacy Lifestyle”. They realized that they want to have this physical intimacy with their spouse but kept on waiting for it to spontaneously happen and the truth of the matter is, everything in our lives is virtually scheduled – calendar reminder of this and that. The same thing has to happen in our marriages. We have to say, “You’re so important that I’m going to put you on my calendar”- where a simple conversation would count.
They set up the intimacy lifestyle for their sexual intimacy for them to have a structure around it that would allow for spontaneity and creativity, but also ensure that it’s not falling thru the cracks and it’s not like “We’ll get to that next week or next month or next year”. They had to be intentional as they saw the benefits of saying, “You’re so important I’m going to put you on my calendar”.
Ever since, they do a yearly 7-day sex challenge. It is a challenge, but it brings so much joy and happiness. There’s a learning process that happens each year. They assess their yearly challenge just so they know where they’re at emotionally and physically and gauge where they are at in their marriage.
Getting on board. First off, you can do anything for 7 days. You could give up chocolates, you could exercise, you could walk, etc. – it’s a commitment.
Second is, how would that conversation (about the sex challenge) with your spouse be like? For most, it sounds super crazy, but, what if!
What the couple found out and also experienced in their marriage is that a lot of couples stop dreaming of what the future might look like. When you’re in the trenches with young kids, you’re like “Oh my gosh, if I could just get thru to bedtime. They’re still alive everybody’s in bed and back in bed. That would be a good day.” We forget that there’s such a bigger world out there for our marriages to exist in. When a marriage is strong, the ripple effect of a healthier household and healthier family, your kids’ school, church family, work place are impacted. Start with baby steps of “What would it look like if we did this?”, “What would be some of our parameters?”.
With the challenge, you can plan it around a women’s period, work trips, vacation, etc. The couple encourages other couples who want to take on the sex challenge, that they do it a couple of days before and after ovulation since women are most receptive during that time. For a women, everything from the physical lubrication to her desire is heightened.
Quick ways. Pick up their book 7 Days of Sex Challenge. Gift it to your spouse. Listen to Tony & Alisa’s podcast together. Have a conversation with your partner to know what’s going on, are you serving one another, etc.
If you never open up your mouth, you’ll never know.
Tony admits to proposing the 60-day challenge and didn’t know that it would turn out the way it did. It hurt when she was rejected by Alisa after proposing the challenge, but now they do have the ability to share things and get back on track.
6 Intimacies. When intimacy is mentioned, a lot of people would go and say “That’s sex”; however they went to explain that this is known as sexual intimacy.
But we also have to consider the emotional intimacy, which are the conversations you have with each other and get emotionally connected.
Another is the financial intimacy. As a couple you understand that money’s comin’ in, money’s going out. You have all these types of accounts that plays a huge role in marriages. Once you’re on the same page together, it’s amazing how that stress in your life can be decreased and allow for your sexual and emotional intimacy to increase.
There’s also our spiritual intimacy. Where are you and your spouse when it comes to your faith?
We also have recreational intimacy, things you do together as a couple. Are you doing recreational activities together, be it from kayaking, to puddle boarding, hiking, backpacking, cooking classes, etc.?
Intellectual intimacy is another where you get to understand how you two are learning and growing and deepening your relationship, because no relationship stays where you were when you first met. We have to keep on investing in growing ourselves and growing the marriage.
Steps. Start with one of the intimacies. For the couple, they started off with the sexual intimacy. That’s where they started, and thru that they get to move to the emotional intimacy. They are constantly working on all of these intimacies, but to start, pick one of these intimacies.
You have to start talking more than about kids, chores, etc. Have a date at least once a week and just talk. This would engage the couple emotionally again, which is more than about kids, work and chores. When you have toddlers, most conversation are about diapers, changing the kids, etc. but there are times where you would want to simply go and say “I just want to talk about us.” Asking your spouse what are their dreams and aspirations? Where do they see themselves in a year? What’s something that you can change in your life? Or what do I need to make an adjustment on? Things that challenge a couple and people might want to try and look at.
Every couple is in a different space. Some couple may want to start praying together and work on their spiritual intimacy. Other couples were like, “I can’t remember the last time we had a date night”. If you look at your marriage as a circle and say “Okay, if we look at that circle, where are we flat?” We’ve all been on that bike that has a flat tire and that’s the area you want to address first. What’s flat and start going from there.
Don’t try and do everything. Let’s not overwhelm ourselves. We got enough on our plates, but what would be the effect if we concentrate on one area. How awesome would that be?
Podcast Episode # 1: 60 Days of Sex - https://oneextraordinarymarriage.com/episode-001-60-days-of-sex/
Podcast Episode # 140: Scheduling Sex - https://oneextraordinarymarriage.com/140-scheduling-sex/
How to learn more about Tony & Alisa