Long term committed relationships, such as marriage, seem destined to be sexually challenged at some point in time. As a woman in a long term committed relationship – married with children – for about two decades, I have lived through many ups and downs in my marriage, including days (even weeks) of not being "in the mood" for physical intimacy. So, here's a strategy that works for both people in the relationship for those days when, as women, we may feel:
- A headache coming on
- Pre-menstrual cramps and crankies
- Post-ovulatory let down
- I love him, but I don’t really like him right now
- Stressed about money, work, children or time
I just cared for our toddler all day, argued with my father, cleaned up dog poop, learned about animal cruelty on dairy farms, got a speeding ticket, watched "HIM", sit down to pee, or other libido challenges. It is unlikely you are in the mood to make love.
It's natural that some days we are just feeling a little prickly and not particularly joyful about having sex with our significant other.
We know that what makes an intimate relationship different from other relationships is intimacy. You can share all your deepest, darkest secrets with your best girlfriends. You love your mother and she has always taken good care of you. You respect and admire your boss. You might even engage in some friendly flirting with that guy who washes your car at the gas station.
What makes your relationship with your husband unique from any other relationship? Well, in addition to all those other wonderful characteristics that cement loving bonds, the differnce is being intimate with one another.
Intimacy can be more solidly defined as anything you would do with your spouse that you wouldn't do with, or in front of, others. If you did, the other people might be disturbed by it. So, if a foot rub or back massage is your idea of intimacy, think again. Anyone could do that for you; many make a career out of it. If you wouldn't hesitate to broadcast that you paid someone to do it, it's not truly intimate.
Penetrative sex can be intensely satisfying and contribute to deeper connection with each other. But it's not the only kind of sex available to us. Start with intimate touches, extended kissing or "making-out" together. Over time, learn your natural libido triggers. For some it might be a sound, word, phrase or term of endearment. For others, a gentle touch or firm touches to a specific area on our body. Use all your senses and explore combinations of stimuli together.
If you don't want to have sex, but you do want yourself to want to have sex, then simply don't say no. Don't make any excuses when your spouse starts getting frisky. Choose to be open in the moment and see where it goes. Kiss, touch, hold each other and be open to receiving the gift of his touch and affection. If you stay open, you could find yourself enjoying the moment and naturally opening further. You may even, ultimately, find yourself moaning "Ahhhh, thank you, I needed that."
There are probably many men out there pumping their fists in the air and women writing me hate mail right about now. So let's take this to the next level and complete this picture. This is not a "grin and bear it" mentality.
While openness falls into the lap of the one who isn't all that interested in sex at the moment, the huge responsibility of presence and intense connection with the needs and responses of the other is firmly in the hands of the partner who wants to have sex. So if you are the husband that wants to connect with your wife sexually and she is tired or just not in the mood, when she doesn't say no, understand that's not a resounding yes either.
When she doesn't say no to your sexual advances, she decided not to reject your gift of sexual affection. Sex, however, is a mutual gift. "To whom much is given, much is expected." She may have eliminated her "no," but now you have to toss your agenda out the window. As she has left herself open to you sexually, you must proceed with an open mind to how far this will go.
As the man, or forward partner, you now have the challenge of unlocking the pleasure for both of you with each touch. Openly exploring, testing, trying different combinations of touch. Finding what type of touch and where elicits the most desirable responses from her. Don't just forge ahead and conquer. Now you get to play and discover what feels good to her. What will continue to open her and have her pleasure bloom at your touch? That's what makes a great lover at any stage of a relationship. Sex is best when it is approached without an agenda, without a heat seeking missile aiming for a specific target.
A word of caution, don't get complacent and start thinking, "Well if this type of touch worked two weeks ago, then I'll just do that again and that should do the trick." It will probably be different at different times, especially when stimulating a woman. So don't think you've solved the riddle and your work is done. Just because that combination opened the lock a few times before, doesn't mean you stop feeling into her and her responses.
You must stay present and engaged every time. If not, she will feel your lack of true attention and intuitively close off from you, until she feels your presence again. So continue to approach sex in a lighthearted, playful and experimental way. Focus on discovery, without attaching meaning to the outcome. Even when emotions and desire are intense and passionate, your exploration of each other's bodies can remain in the moment, without the weighted anchor of where or how far this is going.
Yes, I do know that there are many relationships that have this dynamic flipped. This is not a statement on the general libidinous qualities of men VS women. This is not meant to be divisive. For the sake of simplicity, I am writing from the mass perspective (based on my experience as a love and intimacy strategist).
Adopt this perspective the way it fits in your relationship. If you are in a heterosexual relationship where the woman is more libidinous than the man, or simply seems to be more desirous of sexual intimacy, then use it that way. If you are in a homosexual relationship, simply adapt it to the desires of each. In any relationship there are times when each partner may seem to want to have sex consistently at a time the other partner doesn't. In that case, both partners can adopt the "just don't say no" philosophy at times that their partner is interested in sex.
You might be surprised how incredible your sex life and your intimate life together can be when you enter your private time together without preconceived ideas about the outcome. You will have more regular and meaningful intimacy, a more satisfying sex life and even more frequent penetrative sex. When you take away the agenda of yes or no, both people can come into every sexual and intimate encounter with the trust that their needs will be considered and met.
No go and have some fun!