I don’t have to tell you that sex is everywhere: in films, on television and in any other venue advertisers can lay their hands on. The blaring message: sex is not only important but absolutely necessary and if you aren’t having it, there’s something wrong with you (which isn’t true, so don’t worry). But from a relationship happiness perspective, how important is sex, really? How critical is sex to long-term relationships or marriage? Let’s look to a recent national survey for a glimpse into what’s really going on in the bedrooms and minds of women, gathered from the community website iVillage. I will attempt to interpret the results and provide some tips for whatever percentile you find yourself in.
Seventy-five percent of women think that a good sex life is very important. (Men, that’s 3 out of 4 women you’ll meet on any given day. This is obviously nice news for our gender.) But what is “a good sex life”?
Here’s where the rubber meets the road…One woman’s fantasy of hot car sex is another woman’s nose turned up, and men, your fantasies may or may not turn on or satisfy your partner. That’s the reality–and sexual compatibility isn’t a guarantee no matter how attracted you are as he/she walks across the room. So, before you fight over who’s on top or bottom tonight, let’s bridge the war of the sexes in the bedroom by the best form of foreplay for most women: talking.
My friend Janet Smith used to say that our largest sexual organ was between our ears. Ask these questions of your partner when the lights are low and the mood is set or if that bothers you, then over a cup of coffee is fine too:
1. What turns you on? How do you like to be touched and where?
2. What is your favorite day or time of day for sex?
3. What is your favorite form of foreplay (Men, don’t be surprised to hear… “Doing the dishes!”)
4. What are your favorite fantasies? Would you like to include talking about them while you are making love?
Fifty percent say that stress and exhaustion reduces their desire for sex. Being too tired for sex can also equate to being too depressed for sex., i.e., in this current economic climate, some spouses are either working long hours at a job that they may not like or pounding the pavement trying to find a job. Survival will, of course, always trump sex. I often say to clients, you don’t need sex to live but you do need a job to live. Here are some tips to get you in the mood for sex after a long day at work when it just seems like, well, more work:
1. If you can afford it, order takeout or delivery. With no dishes, you can get to the bedroom a little quicker.
2. Talk about what bothered you at work over dinner…get the stress out and share your troubles of the day with your partner. Don’t belabor the troubles at work though. Have a time limit of 15 minutes each for stress about work and then leave work at the office.
3. Give each other a massage as an alternative to sex. Take turns with this so one person can just relax on a given night and receive, not being expected to return the favor that very night. It can be their turn to give next time.
4. If massage is not your thing then playing a game, relaxing together, or taking a short walk can get you in the mood.
5. If you’re simply too tired or stressed for sex, then try incorporating some physical touch into your evening. Hold hands, a goodnight kiss or a cuddle are ways to keep the door open and warm for a future sexual encounter. Hello and goodbye hugs or kisses, a phone call or text during the day just to say hello work well in the keeping-the-fire-burning department. A warm greeting after work, an “I love you,” or “It’s so good to be home” are the small wonders that speak volumes for how you really feel about each other.
Forty-nine percent of women surveyed said they had better sex before they had children. Raising children is very stressful and to make sexual matters even more complicated, many couples want their children to sleep in bed with them, which is called the “family bed.” With children around, couples need to be a lot more creative and supportive with each other if they want to keep their sex life alive.
1. For the record, a family is defined as the couple, and children are considered to be additional members of the family and this also includes other family members. This concept stresses the value of the couple and the importance of making time to renew your family connection. It’s instinctive to focus much of your attention on your children, especially when they are little, and forget to make time for your mate. The analogy of a garden that needs tending to make it flourish is a good one to keep in mind.
2. Sex is what distinguishes a marriage from being roommates. Being married is one thing, making a marriage work is another. This requires focus and thought. It’s pretty sexy to remember something your spouse said he/she wants and then give it to them.
3. Women often feel very overwhelmed by being mothers. It’s a thankless job and does not get much support from our culture. Showing appreciation like surprising your wife with bringing takeout from her favorite restaurant is a powerful force for positive feelings.
4. Make a date night once a week, even if it’s just taking a walk. It’s about spending some quality time together hanging out. Going out is even better because you have a reason to put something special to wear–and it reminds you of what it was it was like in the beginning when you made an effort to do this and why you did it in the beginning of your relationship.