Couple Therapy Sterling, VA
Happy New Year! The holidays are over, the kids are back in school, and the stresses and routines of daily life are back. After what I hope was a relaxing and connecting break away from it all, most of us are now turning our attention back to things outside of our families and relationships. But I think there is an easy and straightforward way to keep some of that connection alive as we head into 2018, and in this week’s post, I’d like to focus on a method to improve your sex life.
You’ve heard me say this before on the blog, but it bears repeating — physical intimacy is an important part of a healthy committed relationship. It helps us feel bonded to each other, feeds our normal biological and emotional need for close human connection, and sets our romantic relationships apart from all of the (many!) other relationships we have in our lives. Close physical connection can help us to relax and reduce stress, boosts our immunity, lowers blood pressure, and improves sleep. It can also boost brainpower and keep us looking and feeling youthful.
My contention is that part of the reason many couples are not having as many sexual interactions as they’d like is that they are simply too busy dealing with all of the items on their busy schedules. Between work, family, self-care, and maintaining the home, there often isn’t much time left for each other as well fall into bed exhausted at the end of another marathon day. That’s why I think it’s critically important to — stay with me here — put sex on your calendar. I know, I know — that’s so unromantic. Many of us seem to have a notion that sex has to be spontaneous to be good — that it only “counts” if we both suddenly find ourselves available and in the mood at the same time. But guess what? For most modern couples, the stars don’t align that way very often, and so we find ourselves going weeks (or longer?) between high-quality intimate physical interactions. As the days stretch to weeks between sexual encounters, you may find that relationship tension increases, conflict is more frequent, and individual stress becomes more noticeable.
We make time in our lives for what is important to us, and sex with your partner should be no different. You don’t have to have full-on intercourse every time to reap the benefits of a more active sex life. Activities like trading massages, bathing or showering together, naked cuddling, or just good old-fashioned making out can be just as beneficial, and help keep things interesting and varied.
So here’s what I’d love for you to try:
- Choose a day to have an intimate physical interaction with your partner between now and the end of the weekend. Literally, pull out your calendars (even better if you have a shared calendar!) and find a time when you are both available and won’t have any distractions, and can focus your attention on each other. Mark it on your calendar(s) and agree not to let anything else get in the way of it.
- Spend time between now and then thinking about the coming interaction and getting excited about it. What feelings are you looking forward to experiencing? What do you want to communicate to your partner during your time together? How do you want to make your partner feel — physically and emotionally?
- Communicate your excitement to your partner. Let her/him know you’re looking forward to the interaction. Flirt and tease. Let the excitement and sexual tension build.
- When the day arrives, relax and enjoy your time together. Make your time together a priority, and commit to going forward with the plan regardless of what else pops up or how you feel. If you’re not in the mood, let yourself be convinced. Don’t focus on a specific goal (many people tend to focus on orgasm and define the success of the interaction by whether or not orgasms are achieved) — rather, make it your goal to just enjoy the time together and share an intimate experience. Orgasms are a great bonus, but should not define success.
- Afterward, pull out those calendars again and decide on the next time that you’ll commit to creating an intimate experience together. Aim for scheduling within 5 days or less to keep the frequency of these interactions at a healthy level.
Now, back to that discussion of spontaneity. Following the above recommendation doesn’t mean that you can’t have spontaneous sex if the mood strikes in between scheduled interactions. In fact, I would be willing to bet that if you implement this exercise for a few weeks, you will find that the frequency of spontaneous sexual interactions increases pretty naturally. Go with it!
See if you can commit to using this system for six weeks — long enough to really see how it works with your life and schedules. I think you’ll see a huge boost to connection, and even overall relationship satisfaction. Enjoy!
Lindsey M. Hoskins, PhD, LCMFT, provides couple, family, and individual therapy in both our Sterling, VA and Bethesda, MD office. Call 703-951-6409, or email [email protected], to set up an appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation.