So you and your partner are having challenges in bed.
Maybe you’re not even making it into the bedroom.
What’s a couple to do?
Obviously, the exact answer to this question depends on the particular situation and personalities. But there are general responses, too.
The first thing to do is recognize that this is a real, deep and genuinely challenging issue. It’s not something that can be fixed with a snap of the fingers.
Second, it’s usually not the other person (cue the finger-pointing) who needs fixing. While it’s occasionally one person’s problem, more often than not the situation is co-created. It’s a system challenge that needs to be addressed together.
You could write a book about this (and many people have). This is just a blog post, so I’ll limit myself to some high-level suggestions.
Let’s start with some of the reasons desire dies over time:
- The first is familiarity. You can only see your partner sitting on the john so many times without its taking some of the romance away.
- There’s ‘sibling-ization.’ You live with someone long enough, they become family, and we’re wired to not want to have sex with mom or pop or brother or sis.
- There’s chemistry (literally). The biochemical cascade that produces feelings of romantic love (and desire) fade out after four years (at most).
- Longevity. We tend to live a long time these days. I don’t think Mother Nature intended us to have sex with the same person for thirty or forty or fifty years. Hell, Mother Nature didn’t even intend for us to live that long!
- Relationship stress. Most relationships are a mix of positive and negative, of deep affection and deep grievances. This situation is often compounded over time by the repetitive nature of the stressors. The same old conflicts, when not resolved, cause people to pull back emotionally, and this often means not being sexual with their partner.
So there’s the problem statement. It all adds up to a pretty big hill to climb. Don’t despair, though. There are solutions.
As my partner Sheri Winston lays out in her latest book Succulent SexCraft, we all have four basic toolboxes we bring to the bedroom—skills of the body, mind, heart and spirit. If you’re not actually playing sexually, your body toolkit isn’t much use to you. You’ll have to use your mind, heart and spirit tools.
A crucial mind tool is intention. You have to want to do something about your problem. Duh! (If one partner doesn’t care, that creates its own special set of problems.) Even if you’re not feeling the urge to jump your partner, you can choose to be intimate. Maybe because you value the relationship. Or because you want your partner to be happy. Or because you want to get off.
So now you’ve talked with your partner and decided you want to bring an end to your personal case of Dead Bedroom Syndrome. Your next step is to schedule a date. Use your powerful neo-cortical planning abilities to write a date into your calendar.
And … don’t make it a sex date. Make it a connection date. Intend to get close, to have fun, to relax, to share. Don’t put pressure on yourselves to get it on. Have your goal be simpler and less orgasm-directed. Simply set out to enjoy each other’s company.
Yes, I hear you objecting, but what does this have to do with sex? The answer is, you’re preparing the soil. There’s been a drought. You’re watering the garden. You’ll need to do that if you want the flowers to grow.
One final thought for now—I’ll be penning more thoughts later. Practice positivity. Do it always, and especially during those special connection dates. Nothing will send you flying faster in the opposite direction from ‘in the mood’ than negative feedback or a broader mood of negativity. The garden of sex flourishes in an atmosphere of positive, upbeat energy. It withers under criticism.
Try something radical. Be nice to each other.
(For those of you out there who are kinky and thrive on giving or receiving negative feedback, I’m not, er, spanking you. When you play sexually with negative emotional energy, you’re choosing of your own free will to play a game with a positive outcome: “Oh, I’ve been bad! And it feels so good!”)
So: If you want to get out of the sexual doldrums, start off by preparing your garden. Don’t hasten to the crotch. Don’t even hasten to sex.
And be positive.