Spicing up your sex life can feel intimidating. I know for me, I struggled with this myself. Am I in charge of initiating sex, am I in charge of being spontaneous, and seductive, WAIT! Do I even know how to do this, what if I do this wrong? These are a few questions that raced through my mind. I was also struggling with my own insecurities. Frustration would take over whenever my husband would complain that he felt sex was infrequent and nonexistent. I didn’t agree.
As a licensed marriage and family therapist and marriage coach I have learned how to step outside of my comfort zone. By doing so, I have increased the level of intimacy in my marriage. I want to show you how to do this as well.
Importance of a Fulfilling Sex Life for couples
First things first: Having a fulfilling sex life is not only a benefit to your partner it will also benefit you. This impacts relationship satisfaction and increases your attraction towards one another.
A healthy and fulfilling sex life is essential for individual well-being and relationship longevity. It’s not about physical satisfaction, honey, it’s about emotional closeness too. Sex provides a unique way to connect, communicate, and show love in a relationship. It’s a symbiotic dance of emotional and physical intimacy that can boost your happiness.
Plus, it’s a stress reliever. It’s all connected; your emotional well-being plays into your sexual health, and vice versa. Before being a therapist I had no idea that most men used sex as an indicator of their relationship health and whether their partner found them attractive. I used this to open up conversations around sex to help my clients achieve a fulfilling sex life.
When Couples Get into a ‘Rut’
How did my marriage get here? You know what, life happens. Sometimes, that excitement dims and you find yourself in a sexual rut. For most of us, we are just so busy!!! But it’s important to remember that it’s normal. You’re juggling work, kids, social commitments, and, sex becomes a chore on a to-do list. It’s ok to admit the laundry and the dishes, get more action than your husband. I’ve been there too. The Gottman method talks about the importance of the ‘friendship’ system in relationships, and how that’s the basis for all other systems including sex. So when you’re in a rut, it’s a sign to invest in that friendship and emotional connection. Remember: the only thing that separates married couples from divorced ones is that divorced couples forget the value of the marriage.
Intimacy, Connection, and Satisfaction for Couples
lifeblood of relationship satisfaction. The Gottman method speaks about the Sound Relationship House, where a strong foundation leads to more romantic and passionate acts. Keeping the bedroom spicy ensures you don’t start seeing your partner as a roommate or a co-parent. One question to ask yourself is, how have I disconnected from my partner intimately and why? Grab a pen and paper and start to write this out. You might find that you are carrying resentment and this has created a wedge between you and your partner.
Time to Spice Things Up in Your Marriage?
Signs you need a little salsa in the bedroom? Well, if sex feels monotonous or it’s been moved to the back burner, it’s time to shake things up. Another sign is emotional distance. If you’re not connecting emotionally, chances are you’re not connecting sexually either. Two questions I want you to answer, when did I lose my best friend? When did I stop being his best friend? If this question, feels like a punch to the stomach, it’s time!
Deeper Couples Relationship Issues?
When is it indicative of a larger issue? Well, if emotional or physical intimacy has always been a struggle, or if resentment and unresolved conflict are poisoning your emotional connection, those bedroom problems might be the tip of the iceberg. A good way to determine this is if you or your husband are guilty of using criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling in times of conflict. These are what Gottman calls the 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse and they are Gottman’s predictors of divorce. Keeping score in a relationship is not healthy and if you’re keeping tallys on what you’re doing and what he isn’t doing, these are also indicators of a larger issue.
How Couples can Spice Up Their Sex Life
Alright, let’s get to solutions, shall we? Using the tried-and-true Gottman method as our framework. It’s no secret that keeping that sexual spark alive is key to a fulfilling and healthy relationship. So let’s get to it!
- Prioritize Emotional Connection
The Sound Relationship House, a concept in the Gottman method, places significant emphasis on building emotional connection and friendship. An emotional connection usually sets the stage for a fulfilling sexual relationship. So make it a point to emotionally connect every single day, whether it’s through meaningful conversation or spending quality time together. One thing my husband and I do every day, yes, every day! We share a kiss before we leave and when we return home. This alone provides emotional security and connection.
- Open Communication is Key
The Gottman method is all about fostering open dialogue. Your sexual relationship is no exception to this rule. Make time to talk openly and honestly about your sexual desires, needs, and fantasies. Pay attention to any insecurities or fears you have about communicating. This open dialogue is crucial for understanding what both you and your partner need to feel fulfilled in the bedroom. And hey, talking about it can be a turn-on too!
- Rituals of Connection You’ve got to keep the rituals that make your relationship special. Whether that’s a date night, a particular way you say goodbye in the morning, or even a special wink you share, these rituals deepen your connection and can add that extra spice you’re craving.
- Bid for Connection In Gottman’s terminology, a “bid” is an attempt for emotional connection. Bids can be as simple as complimenting your partner or as involved as planning a romantic getaway.Respond to your partner’s bids and create your own to maintain a connection. This can lead to a more spontaneous and lively sex life. Some examples of bids that I provide my clients are,Example of an Emotional BidSituation: One partner comes home looking distressed after a tough day at work and says, “I had such a difficult day. You won’t believe what happened.”Bid for Connection: Expressing the hardship is a bid, signaling the need for emotional support.Positive Response: Dropping what you’re doing to sit down, listen, and offer emotional support is a way of ‘turning towards’ the bid. This not only provides immediate comfort but deepens emotional intimacy for the long term.Responding positively to these bids is crucial for building a lasting emotional connection, which in turn, as you know, leads to a fulfilling relationship and enriches other areas of intimacy.
- Adventure & ExperimentationJust like you add various spices to keep your meals exciting, you need to do the same for your sex life. Experimentation could mean new positions, role-playing, or bringing in some toys. This adds a layer of novelty and excitement that can reignite passion. Sex toys can even be the playing field when it comes to sexual arousal.
- Stress Management
The Gottman method highlights the importance of managing stress for a healthy relationship. Stress can be a libido killer. So find ways to manage your stress, be it through exercise, meditation, or talking it out. A relaxed mind often leads to a more receptive sexual experience.
- Express Gratitude & Appreciation A culture of appreciation is highly emphasized in the Gottman method. Regularly expressing gratitude can create a positive emotional environment, which can be incredibly freeing sexually.
- The Importance of Non-Sexual Touch Remember, not all forms of physical intimacy lead to sex, but they can create an atmosphere of sensuality. Cuddle, hold hands and exchange massages. This physical closeness can create a natural segue into sexual intimacy.
- Prioritize Emotional Connection
Quick Fire Topics:
After 12 Years: Focus on what initially attracted you to each other and work on bringing that back. Research studies have shown that we change every five years. Our likes, interests, and hobbies were probably not the same when we met. Focus on building what love maps.
Lasting Rounds: Physical stamina can be worked upon, but consider mindfulness techniques to fully engage in the moment. Especially if you find yourself struggling with an erection or being present. Use your five senses to help you maintain stamina.
Fun Back in Sex: Make it a game. Create small challenges or dares for each other to make it exciting. Ask your partner to identify things you are currently doing that drive them crazy in the bedroom. Ask them what feels good and what they would like more of.
After Baby: Understand that your bodies and time have changed. Work on adapting rather than lamenting. Try to refrain from using criticism or defensiveness.
After 60: Embrace the changes in your body and refocus on emotional intimacy. Identify your insecurities and work on them.
After 40: you have an empty nest, or maybe you’re at a career peak. Use that newfound time or stress relief to reconnect.
After Marriage: Don’t get complacent. Keep up the rituals that kept you close when you were dating. Remember when you were dating, remember how curious you were to find out more about your partner? Continue asking questions.
You’re not in this alone. We’re here to help. Contact Outside the Norm Counseling to set up your counseling intake appointment today! As a female-owned and operated Temecula, CA counseling center, the therapists at Outside the Norm Counseling understand the struggle. In fact, our founder, Veronica, considers it her mission to empower couples.