We sat down with Alisa Di Lorenzo, from ONE Extraordinary Marriage, to talk about sex. Alisa and her husband, Tony, have created a few sex challenges to help couples nurture intimacy in their marriages and learn to prioritize each other above all else. In this interview, Alisa explains how the seven days of sex challenge can help couples rekindle the romantic flame and draw closer to one another emotionally and physically.
Years Married: 18.5
Occupations: Alisa runs ONE Extraordinary Mariage full-time and her husband Tony is The Dent Dude – he does paintless dent repair on cars, and runs OEM part time.
Hobbies/Interests: We love to travel, to take walks, to explore new restaurants, and to find creative ways to keep the spark alive in our marriage.
Favorite Ice cream: Reeses Peanut Butter Cup
Website: ONE Extraordinary Marriage
- How did you and Tony meet?
A: Tony & I met twenty-one years ago, at the University of Colorado Boulder, where I was an intern and Tony was the fraternity house cook. It was supposed to just be a summer fling, but when he walked me to the gate at the airport (back in the day, before 9/11) he wouldn’t take off his sunglasses, because he had tears in his eyes. And as they say, the rest is history.
Q. How did ONE Extraordinary Marriage come to be? What motivated and inspired it?
A: Seven or eight years ago now, Tony & I were at a crossroads in our marriage. Our kids were young, and we were living more like roommates than anything else. We found ourselves at a point where we had three options: 1. to get divorced; 2. to stay as roommates; or 3. to do something radically different. We got radical. That is when we embarked on the 60 days of sex challenge. And as we started to share our story, people asked us for more, and that is when we started the blog. Blogging was a challenge, however, we found our voice through doing our podcast.
- Q. What did the challenge look like and how did it nurture your marriage?
A: What Tony & I discovered when we first did the 60-days-of-sex challenge, was that all of a sudden, we were putting the two of us back on the priority list. We were making our marriage a priority. We were making each other a priority. When we said, “We are going to do this for sixty days,” that meant I couldn’t get upset about having to take the garbage cans out, because I was having sex that night. And if one of the kids got up in the night, we both took turns, because we both wanted to be in the mood and have the energy to have sex. And so, all of a sudden we rediscovered who we were as a couple, even though we had already been married for eleven or twelve years.
For a lot of people, the 60-days-of-sex challenge is a lot to commit to, but for most, the7 days of sex challengeis perfect because people can wrap their head around doing something for a week. Seven days can really fit into a couple’s marriage a lot easier than sixty days. We still do the 7-days-of-sex challenge, we do one at least once a year.
Q. So, just to be clear, is the idea behind each challenge that husbands and wives are going to have sex every single day or night for that length of time?
A: Right. With the 60-days-of-sex challenge we had a couple of caveats. I choose not to have sex when I am on my period, and so that was one. The others were if anybody was out of town, or sick. We made it forty out of sixty days. It was incredible, and it is still incredible.
- Q. What did you find happening as you participated in this challenge?
A: We find, not only in our own marriage, but from people who have done this challenge, that all of a sudden the couple feels a deeper sense of connection. That connection comes because they are making each other a priority. When we do the challenges, our communication gets better. We check in with each other and ask, How are you doing today,” or we might ask, “What can I take off your plate?” because we want to help the other person be in the headspace for sex. Also, sex is one of those things that the more you do it, the better it gets. The more you have sex, the more you know what works. We hear from couples who are essentially living in sexless marriages, maybe having sex once or twice each month. When you go that long between having sex, you kind of forget what works. When you are having sex every day or a couple of times a week, you have a lot of practice time to figure out what works, and what doesn’t. For a lot of women, we are responsive to different things during different times of our cycle. There is a lot of responsivity during the time right around ovulation…and there is a reason for that. Be okay being more adventurous or less adventurous depending on where you are at in your cycle. And don’t be afraid to let your husband know why.
Q. What does it mean to you to have an intimate relationship with your spouse?
A: To have an intimate relationship with your spouse, in my opinion, it means that you have the ability to take off all your masks. That you can be who you truly are, in all aspects.A lot of people hear the word, intimacy, and just think of the physical, or sexual side, but as we’ve learned over the course of our marriage, it’s more than that. It’s spiritual intimacy, it’s emotional intimacy, it’s recreational and financial intimacy – all of those different aspects of a relationship. When you can be real with someone, then you really connect, and it’s that deep soul-to-soul connection – that is what intimacy is.
- Q. What would you say to couples who are struggling to have sex or struggling to want to have sex?
A: I typically don’t encourage a sex-challenge right away, because I don’t know what is really going on with the couple. There can be a lot of reasons that sex is taking a back-burner in a marriage – it could be health related, it could be financial stresses, it could be pornography, it could be a lot of different reasons. When I have a couple who is struggling with having sex in their relationship, I start working with them on their communication. I had a guy write me the other day, talking about some issues he and his wife are having in their intimate relationship and how it is impacting his marriage. When he can get to the point where he can share that with his wife, and they can be vulnerable and pull back those layers, then they start discovering what they can do together to figure things out. But I’ve got to find out what is going on in their head and their heart, before we can even get to them having sex.
- Q. What about people who don’t feel comfortable in their own bodies? What can help overcome those barriers?
A: Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What can I do to change myself?” So many times I will coach husbands and wives, and that comment will come up from one or the other, and the other spouse says, “I honestly love you the way you are! If you wanted to have sex right now, let’s go!” They don’t see their spouse the way the negative thoughts are spinning in their spouse’s head. If you aren’t happy about the weight around your thighs, or around your belly, or if you aren’t eating healthy, or whatever it is – you’re a grown up, there are some things that you can change. The things that you can’t change, you need to work through – be it with a coach or a counselor. Those are barriers for you, but they may not be a barrier for your spouse. You may have this negative tape playing in your head that says an extra ten pounds makes you unattractive, but who said? Your spouse may not even notice. Whose ideal are you really trying to live up to and is it realistic.You’ve got to discover why that is an issue for you, because if you want to have intimacy with your spouse, you’ve got to be able to give yourself 100%. If there is something that is holding you back, and you’re only giving 95% or 65%, where is the rest of your energy going? What does that look like? In a lot of marriages, it looks like distance, it looks like drift.
- Q. What are steps that a couple could take today to help them feel closer and more intimate with their spouse?
A: There are two things that are causing a lot of drift in our society, one is lack of communication and the other is lack of time. 1. Make margin in your life. Three-year-olds know how to say “no,” regularly. We need to learn from our kids to say “no,” to all the other obligations so that we can “YES!” to our spouse. 2. A part of that margin and setting aside that time is sitting down and practicing talking to each other again. When we’re dating we want to know everything about each other’s lives – “Tell me about your dog’s name when you were in sixth grade and about the camping trip that your family took,” etc. Then, over time, our questions become more like, “Hey, did you remember to get the milk? Did you remember to fold the laundry? Don’t forget we’ve got this party on the weekend.” And we stop talking about our dreams, and our desires, and our fears, and the conversation just stops. We created a resource for couples – Connect Like You Did When You First Met – 101 proven questions for couples. We encourage couples to take one question a day and give it 10-15 minutes a day – nothing earth-shattering. Most of us spend that time on Facebook, or Pinterest, or watching sports, or flipping channels, so what would happen if you gave your marriage 10-15 minutes a day? It will change in amazing ways.
Q. What are some fun tips for couples to keep sex lively and romantic?
A: There are so many quick and simple things, that cost absolutely nothing, that a couple can do in their own home. 1. Change up the time of day that you’re having sex. 2. Put the other rooms in your house to good use. 3. Get in the habit of locking your door 4. Sleep naked. 5. Get a sound machine. (Tony & I picked up this EcoTones Sound and Sleep machine, because it actually has a built in microphone, so it is audio responsive. The louder you get, the louder it gets. We go in our room and have conversations and we just turn it on if we want background noise so the kids can’t hear, but it is also on every night….it is just one of those sound things the kids come to expect.)
Q. Any final thoughts or tips regarding intimacy or sex that you would like to share?
A: You’ve got to make each other a priority. You’ve got to remember that at the end of the day the only thing that we have in this world, really, is the relationships we have with people – most importantly our spouse and kids. So often we get distracted…we feel like our spouse will always be there, that they’ll put up with us acting like this, since we are married… but at the end of the day, some people get tired, and some people get tired of being at the end of the list, and they get tired of not feeling important, and they go look somewhere else. So if you want to have incredible intimacy with your partner, make them feel important – and it will transform your marriage.