You warm-up before exercise. Why not warm-up before sex too? You'll be glad you did!
You prepare for grocery shopping by making a list. You stretch before a workout. Have you ever thought about a warm-up before sex? It might be just what the doctor ordered to get your sex life back on track.
Sex therapists, marriage counselors and relationship experts spend a tremendous amount of time trying to help couples reconcile two seemingly opposing forces:
1) Maintaining an active and mutually satisfying sex life is very important in keeping a relationship strong.
2) Over time, it is likely that one or both partners will experience a significant decrease in their sex drive.
Clinically speaking, that significant decrease in sex drive often leads to what is termed a "desire discrepancy", with one partner wanting more sex than the other. In turn, making sex a point of stress, guilt, resentment and frustration.
Should You "Just Do It"?
To counter act this progression, many therapists advocate something along the lines of the Nike approach — e.g. "Just Do It." Such was the point of a recent post by Dr. Samantha Rodman, aka Dr.PsychMom, titled Women Should Have Sex When They Don't Want To. No, That Wasn't a Typo. To be fair, her article also clearly stated that men should do it when they don't want to. The point being that in a marriage there are times when each side should do things for the other, or for the relationship — even if it's not at the top of their list at the moment.
Some lucky women are able to take this approach as-is and run with it. They muster up the energy, give it a try and end up with a satisfying sexual experience that reminds them that sex can be enjoyable. It also helps them to reconnect with their partner.
For others though, it's not so easy. Even if they give it a try, they may be physically present, but mentally elsewhere. This leads to an unremarkable or unsatisfying experience, perpetuating the negative feedback loop that makes it even harder to try it again.
A Better Idea
If this sounds like you, don't throw in the towel just yet! More than likely all you need is a little extra help getting your head ready. Have you ever tried a mental warm-up? Just like you might prepare your muscles before a work-out with some stretching or warm-up exercises try doing the same with your head before you take your clothes off.
It might take a litter longer at first, but spend some time alone (or at least untouched) where you can really focus on becoming aroused. For some, this can come from reading erotic stories. Others are more visual and like videos. Others find it effective to close their eyes to create their own fantasy incorporating themselves as participants.
Whichever method you choose, spending the five, or ten, or twenty minutes to mentally warm-up before sex can make all the difference. By generating arousing thoughts (and suppressing all the mental clutter of being a parent, running a house and/or your career) it will be much easier to be receptive to sexual advances and to remain present with your partner. No, we can't promise you the big O, but by being in the right frame of mind, it will certainly be enjoyable.
Whether you choose to read, watch a short film or create your own fantasy, a good mental warm-up can be a big help in overcoming desire discrepancy challenges faced by so many couples. Being in the right frame of mind can help you become more receptive to sex and make it more enjoyable. Plus, enjoyable sex can lead to more sex. Who doesn't want more enjoyable sex?
Suzanne Olds, Ph.D. is the founder of After Nine Tonight and creator of the one-of-a-kind Rekindle video series designed to quickly and tastefully get busy moms in the mood. She is dedicated to strengthening relationships by helping couples to understand and overcome desire discrepancy. You can follow her at www.afterninetonight.com, @after9tonight, or www.facebook.com/afterninetonight.