HOW TO BUILD A GREAT SEX LIFE – PART 2
As promised, here is Part 2 of what we started last time: Building the quality of the friendship through hitting the reset button in the bedroom. I’m hoping you’ve had an opportunity to start practicing thefirst 7 pieces. And I’m hoping you’ll have fun with the next 7! Last time we started with the question…
“How can we get closer and increase our desire for great sex? Is it even possible at our age or at this stage in our relationship?”
The answer is a resounding YES.
All good things take work, right? What is the cliché? “Enjoy what you do and you will never work another day in your life”. Yes, that’s rather tongue in cheek, because I’m very aware that there is often more to the problem than a couple running out of hours in the day. There are often deeper heart issues at work in the problem, and it is certainly not my desire to make light of those wounds. However, thanks to the research being done on relationships we get a little bit of insight into what else is happening in relationships where couples are experiencing a rich and satisfying sex life. According to the Part 1 of this series, couples with a fulfilling sex life are also…
Telling their partner that they love them daily
Kissing passionately daily
Enjoying lots of cuddling and expressing affection
Giving gifts regularly
Displaying affection in public
Speaking kindly and politely to each other
Making sex a priority
Ready? Okay, fasten your seatbelts. Couples who report a good sex life are…
Having Weekly Dates
Shopping for groceries is not a date. However, shopping for lingerie together might be. Wherever you live, google the top 10 things to do there, and now you have your next 10 dates planned out. And you look like a genius. By the way, Paint Parties are all the rage these days. You book a pub or restaurant and an artist comes in with all the supplies and shows you how to paint something lovely (no talent required, trust me), while you eat and drink whatever. Google that, too.
If you put as much time into your job as you do towards maintaining your relationship, what would happen? If you answer, “I would get fired”, then be forewarned. The same will probably happen in the relationship.–
One of the questions I ask all couples in their first session is what stands out about their relationship in the first six months to a year. None of them tell me that they hardly spoke to each other during the day, didn’t want to hang out on the weekend, and mostly just sat home in the evenings and ignored each other while they were on their phones and watched TV. So keep having a lot of fun, doing exciting things and going places together.
Take Romantic Vacations Together
Few things compare to learning about the world alongside your partner. It becomes part of your history. Another question I ask every one of my new couples is what some of the really good times in their relationship have been. Invariably they tell me about their trip to Harrison for a weekend. Or Mexico. Or Hawaii. Or that time they had the grandparents keep the kids for the weekend and they snuck back into the house and just hung out in their pajamas all weekend, slept in, enjoyed the hot tub together naked and had great sex. Lots of smiles during this part of the session. Then, when they come back for their second session and I ask them how they felt when they left here last time they tell me about how nice it was to remember the positive stuff that was happening in the relationship, all the great memories. It reminds them that while the negative stuff is still all there, so is the positive stuff. It reminds you of who you married, of those years that it was just the two of you.
There is a brake pedal and an accelerator pedal for making love
One slows it down, the other speeds it up. Learn what turns your partner on and off, and imprint it on your mind. Take notes if it will help you remember, because it’s going to be on the test! Quality sex is more than just an accident that happens in quantity of sex. It requires intentional listening and learning, like you are constructing a map of what turns them on and off. Women need low stress and explicit romance. It is said that men only need the place. Let’s face it, the world is more dangerous for women than most men so evolution has taught them a special relationship with fear. Fear is a major brake pedal, while creating a sense of safety is a major accelerator. Loving gestures create a sense of safety, which produce pleasure and intense connection.
Keep Playing and Having Fun Together!
People tell me that this part can take a lot of work and time. Only if you are doing it right. My husband and I woke up one day and saw our first midlife crisis looming on the horizon. We decided that, instead of being hijacked by it and shaving our heads, buying sports cars and moving to Boca, we would be intentional. So we tried out some options, then bought jeeps and now are avid off roaders. Here’s the thing. If the relationship fails, you lose your partner, your home, your address, your commute, your lifestyle, your bank balance, at least half your friends, half of your kid’s lives, security, and the list goes on. Or, be strategic and in control of your changes. Plato said that you can learn more about a man (person) in an hour of play than a year of conversation. So play.
Stay Good Friends
Friends hang out together, keep up to date about their lives, talk regularly, gossip, enjoy meals together, walk together, whisper secrets and laugh. Couples who are good friends text each other. Yes, they do. New relationship couples tell me about a lot of really fun, exciting things they did, places they went together, and all the texting. And by the way, in affair recovery conversations I always hear about how much time the two people involved in the affair spent talking/texting throughout the day; it is a source of great pain for the betrayed partner, who usually report desperately wanting that connection but frequently being told there just isn’t time in a busy work week for that. Make time for it, because before the fighting started, there was probably a lot of it. Make sure your texts are something your partner looks forward to opening, not dreads. No fighting in texts.
Couples who have a great sex life can talk comfortably about it
And if you need help, the Gottman Institute has a new, free App called Card Decks. In there are 5 card decks to help springboard conversations about sex. Learn the names of your body parts, get informed about how they work and what you like. Find out what your partner likes or doesn’t like. Get good at it. One of my friends once shared that if the guy she’s dating doesn’t know his way around a vagina, he was out.
I spoke recently to a man who was back in the dating scene. He said that in his first relationship sex was just “meh”. So this time around he was going to become very good at it, read lots of books so that he could learn all the sexy moves, all the right words to say. Good for him. Even your favorite food sometimes needs new flavors added.
Be vigilant for opportunities to turn towards your partner’s bids for connection
What is a bid? Making eye contact when they walk in the room. Greeting them when they get home. Asking about their day, telling them they look great, expressing admiration for the garden. Anything that draws their focus to you. So when your partner says, “Oh, look they put a stop sign up on the corner”, don’t ignore their comment because you don’t care about stop signs, or snap at them for making chit chat. Say, “Oh wow. It’s about time, too. There have been so many accidents on the corner.” Ever notice a new mother, and that she can be mid sentence and she suddenly cocks her ear because off in the distance, on the third floor of the house, from the back room of the floor, and over the noise of a party, she hears her baby whimper in sleep? She is tuned into that sound. When you speak and your partner is attentive to that, when they hear you, notice that you have spoken, you may be more attuned to their bids for connection later.
I promise you, ignoring your partner’s texts, comments, eye contact is not going to get you more. Ignoring them is not foreplay.–
Speaking kindly and politely to each other
In the beginning of the relationship, when we were on our best behavior, we were probably pretty consistent with kind and gentle ways of speaking to each other. We teach our children to say please and thank you , so why would we stop when we become committed to each other? When your partner folds your laundry, say thank you. So what if it’s their job. It is a sign that the friendship is still working. Smile when they walk into the room. Laugh at their jokes. Because you likely did when the relationship was young.
Again, a simple list, right? No emotional gymnastics. Where couples are having great sex, the quality of the friendship is working, and these things are happening. Don’t neglect the things on the list, and where both partners in the couple want this area to improve you are sure to find success. So enjoy. Play. Be friendly and kind. Turn towards and play often and well. Usually the first sign that couples are in trouble is that they stop laughing. Have fun!!