Here is the thing about sex:
Lots of people have it, but no one wants to talk about it.
Sex is complicated, and many of us find ourselves really struggling in our marriages regarding our sexual relationships. But since sex is this taboo topic, we can't ask the questions and research answers without feeling like a nymphomaniac.
So, I made a decision early in my marriage to be that person.
You see, sex has not been an easy process in my marriage. Up until I first had sex (my husband actually being the one and only person I've ever slept with), sex was this super romantic ideal, painted by the television shows and movies that glorify it. If everything you ever learned about sex was derived from Greys Anatomy and Mad Men, it would be easy to believe that couples hungered for sex every minute of the day, engaging in the act several times within a 24 hour period. In our mind's eye, there is the perfect music soundtrack playing in the background of every sexual encounter. Your partner would whisper all the right words, and bodies would naturally find themselves in just the right positions.
Then you actually have sex.
And it's not...quite like that.
It did not take long to learn that sex takes work, and in turn, is a work-in-progress. It takes time to learn how to communicate, how to move, how to relate. For every moment that sex is wonderful, explosive and thrilling, it can also be awkward, uncomfortable and even unappealing.
I think women struggle with sex. But since it's an unspoken topic, much like politics, religion and money, we suffer in silence. We believe the lie that everyone else has over-the-top sex on a daily basis, that everyone else is a vixen. And we slowly buckle under the guilt, pressure and hopelessness that our love life is destined to be boring and unromantic. This can really lead to rifts in a marriage.
So I talk about sex. Not like a crazy porn star. I ask questions and attempt to engage in discussions. I am mindful of keeping conversations appropriate, and protecting the privacy and reputation of my husband (my general rule of thumb: what, if anything, would I be okay with him asking or discussing with his friends?). I keep the focus on me, I keep things light. And you know what I found?
Other women struggle with the exact same issues.
Other women struggle with having no interest in sex at times. Other women struggle with the actual physical dynamics of sex. Other women struggle with ruts and how to make sex exciting. Other women struggle with husbands who have either raging sexual appetites or seemingly no appetite at all.
The main struggle women seem to have is keeping the flame alive – making sex new, exciting and interesting (and being interested in sex themselves). This is one of my biggest struggles, and I've had to address the struggle intentionally to make progress. Since I'm sure I'm not alone in this area (and ready and willing to talk about it), here are a few ideas that have worked for me in spicing up things in the bedroom:
Think about sexThat's right. Whatever you've been taught about not having naughty thoughts, throw it right out the window. I'm not saying fantasize about every guy that walks by. I'm saying think about having sex...with your husband. Start in the morning. Set reminders. But make thinking about having sex with your husband a regular part of your day. Get lost in it if you can. Women take a lot of time to warm up to sex. By thinking about it all day, you're giving yourself hours to get into the right mindset, allowing your heart and body to follow.
Be Prepared...In the BedroomBeing caught off guard is a pretty big mood killer. And I know for most women, it's really helpful to have certain items available to assure a good experience. One of those things is lubrication.
Yes. I went there.
Sometimes participating in intimacy is literally impossible without it. So why be shy about talking about it? We've tried several different brands, but I give a big high five to the makers of K-Y brand. They've been around since 1917 (Yes! People were knocking boots even back then!) and is known as a go-to product. Most importantly: it works.
That's all that matters in my book.
I also really love that they are finding new ways to improve, ahem, relations with products like this:
K-Y® BRAND YOURS+MINE® COUPLES LUBRICANTS®
(They are actually having a great promotion right now - Look for a special K-Y® Brand Date Night™ display in stores nationwide, featuring details on a gift card offer for a gourmet meal for two delivered to your home from Plated.com and a streaming movie from Vudu.com, valued at $40.
Visit the https://www.k-ydatenight.com/ for more details on this special offer.)
Happy Valentine's Day to us, right? ;)
Get comfortable talking with your partnerTalking about sex isn't naturally comfortable for most. But opening a line of communication between you and your partner will greatly enhance things in the bedroom. Don't suffer in silence! Let your partner know how you feel, even if it's difficult. Let them know what kind of things you enjoy during sex, let them know the things you don't enjoy. Sometimes bottling thoughts and feelings up compiles over time until it's a wall, which is harder to break down. Plus, how can your partner know what to change if you don't tell him?
Change the dynamicRuts happen when you do the same thing over and over again. Or maybe you're not in a rut: you've never gotten off to a good start. Try something different: Change the lighting (do you always make love with the lights off? Try lighting candles or dim the lights); Change the location (if you always opt for the bed, try the floor. Or try a different room altogether – the kitchen perhaps?); Change the position. But make a change and see if it lights a spark.
Wear sexy pantiesThis goes along with some of the things I've touched on already, but try wearing sexy underwear or a thong. Put it on when you wake up, and wear it throughout the day. No one will know but you. But it will remind you to think sexily (I think I just made up a word). And really, wearing sexy things just makes you feel sexy. Another option is to go out and buy some new lingerie.
Let yourself feel beautiful!
Put it on the calendarThis doesn't work for me, but I know it works for others. Make a sex date with your hubby. Maybe it's once a week (or three times a week. Or bi-weekly. Whatever works for you), but mark it on the calendar. Maybe just put a heart around the date. But set that time aside ahead of time. This gives you a chance to prepare (send the kids to grandma's that night. Shower. Shave. Buy those sexy panties). And preparation is not just physical, but mental as well. For some, it is a real turn off to have sex sprung on them. Knowing that sex is going to happen later that night gives you a chance to prepare.
Talk with your gal palsI'm not saying give a play-by-play at Moms Group. I just mean get the door open for conversation. It is important to protect your privacy, as well as your partner's privacy. So try not to get too specific. But if you are having an issue, mentally or emotionally (even physically), other women might be able to help. I have a great group of girlfriends who came around me when I finally admitted, “I never want to have sex. This is kind of a problem.” They offered great advice and support (and ideas on how to get my head in the game).
Act the partSometimes, we aren't in the mood for sex. Perhaps it's been a bad day with the kids, or you've got other things on your mind that are distracting you. Maybe you've always had problems desiring or wanting to engage in sex. Try acting the part. I'm not encouraging you to lie to your partner. I'm encouraging you to have the freedom of physically acting the part in sex. Often, if given enough time, your mind and heart will follow. Sometimes it takes diving in to actually get into the mood. We stop ourselves at “I don't really feel like it,” before giving it a go and seeing if it just takes getting warmed up. Consider being the one to initiate sex if you usually wait for your partner to initiate. Taking the reigns, so to speak, might be just the jump you need to be excited about the activity!
Laugh and have funIf you are stressed, sex becomes a chore. And it's not good for a relationship if sex becomes something you resent. Instead, keep an open mind. Don't have set expectations. If things get a little awkward, laugh. If you aren't sure what step to take next, laugh. Let sex be fun. The change in attitude might change your feelings as well.
I hope you feel encouraged that everyone has things to work on in their relationship. It definitely helps to feel like you are not alone. The important thing is to accept those things that could use work and then have fun trying new solutions! Best of luck!
I'd love to know:
Is this something YOU struggle with?
What has worked to help you “get in the mood?”
If you want coupons on some of the brands I mentioned so YOU can be PREPARED (ahem) for Valentine's Day, you can find them at HealthyEssentials.com. Get $2 off K-Y Brand here.
This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.