Local sexperts reveal how to keep married life spicy!
If only there were some kind of Sex Registry. You know, some online or in-store service where marrieds-to-be could ensure — just as they do with, say, their place settings — that their married sex lives would be new, exciting and open to discussion. But, weirdly enough, sex is the one ingredient that isn’t out in the wedding-planning open. It’s the
If only there were some kind of Sex Registry. You know, some online or in-store service where marrieds-to-be could ensure — just as they do with, say, their place settings — that their married sex lives would be new, exciting and open to discussion. But, weirdly enough, sex is the one ingredient that isn’t out in the wedding-planning open. It’s the last taboo. The elephant in the (bed)room. The only to-do not listed on any planning spreadsheets or within any cutesy kits.
But, c’mon: Sex is way more important to marriage than that porcelain gravy boat you’ll use maybe once every six years. So, to keep your married sex life spicy, we turned to Philly sexperts to find out how to keep things smokin’ hot — long after the honeymoon is over.
Don’t count on spontaneity (at least not after the first year).
Maybe you’ve heard the pessimistic adage: Put a penny in a jar every time you have sex the first year of marriage. Every year after that, take a penny out each time.
You’ll die with change.
Geesh. The thinking goes that the first-year whirlwind of newlywed bliss, “room-christening” and new flatware will quickly be replaced by … distraction. “Modern life conspires against our sex lives,” says Dr. Julian Slowinski, clinical psychologist at Pennsylvania Hospital and author of The Good Sex Guide (Barnes & Noble Books, 2005). Agrees Jen, 32, of Long Beach Island, “Between remodeling our new house, both of us working like maniacs, and visiting with friends and family, there was a while when neither of us had the energy left to put into our sex life — never mind the time.”
And never mind the pressure for sex to just happen spontaneously when up against those obligations. Suggests Slowinski: “Sometimes you have to just plan a time to have sex. And when it isn’t that time, you can keep the ‘erotic pot’ bubbling by talking, touching, teasing, making little promises. These things are playful and still sexual, so you’re turning each other on for when you do have time.”
Or simply intend on sex without literally “planning,” says Alex Caroline Robboy, founder and CEO of Sex Therapy in Philadelphia, a sex counseling and education center. Prepare yourself for feeling sexual in your marriage the same way you used to for a hot date you knew might end in sex. That way, you’ll be thinking about sex and more open to it if and when the mood strikes.
“You can create a scenario where you make the other person think it was his or her idea to have sex,” says Robboy. “Change what you’re wearing, become
a little flirtatious, play footsie at the dinner table and stare at your spouse a little bit longer.”
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
In marriage, partners are operating from their “sexual scripts,” says Slowinski — a term he uses to describe the sum total of a person’s attitudes about sex and experiences with sexuality, including messages he or she received from family and society. (And including what he or she
expects married sex to be like.) But these two “scripts” can be very different, and to work, the couple needs to blend them to create one together. Communication is vital to make this happen and to avoid feelings of anger or resentment when attitudes aren’t in sync.
Still, talking about sex isn’t always easy. “If you’re inhibited talking about the nitty-gritty, try talking about the theoretical instead, your expectations and desires and dreams,” says Robboy. “Or, communicate through a physical response, like in the ‘A/B game’: Give your partner two kinds of touch or kiss, A and B, and then have them pick which feels better.”
And communication is essential for times when partners aren’t in the mood. “The key is, don’t panic and don’t catastrophize — there are times when having sex will be just okay, or not so great, but don’t give up on it or on yourself,” says Dr. Arlene Goldman, a Philadelphia-based sex therapist and co-author of Secrets of Sexual Ecstasy (Alpha Books, 2004), which she wrote with her husband, Dr. Michael Broder.
Don’t wait until you’re married to take sex seriously.
If you make sex a priority before you’re married, you’ll have better chances of avoiding a post-marriage rut. Robboy suggests that you talk about sex with as
much respect as you talk about other
pre-marital concerns — parenting, home-
ownership, financial strategies — and not just when things aren’t going well. Be open-minded about couples therapy before you’re married, and the fact that when it comes to sex — and even your
partner — you might not know it all. (And some sex talk leading up to the wedding has got to be more exciting — for both of you — than all those conversations about flowers and invitations and table linens.)
“Would you prepare for an Olympic tennis match without a tennis lesson?” asks Dr. Judith Coché, owner and director of The Coché Center in Center City, which offers couples therapy and communication retreats. “So why would you go into an Olympic marriage without a lesson?”
There’s an inevitable tendency with married couples (or even longtime co-
habitants) to let sex become routine. Hey, if you know five minutes of A, plus a few of B, and a good amount of C, leads to D (or “O”, if you will), why mess with what works? Because sooner or later — yawn — the old standby is going to get, well, old. “Try doing just one new thing every time you’re in bed,” says Robboy. “Or read a sexy magazine together, and create the story behind what you see.” (For more suggestions, visit her site, sextherapyin
philadelphia.com.) And, of course, there are always toys …
Perhaps the smartest, easiest bit of advice yet: “One thing married couples stop doing is kissing, but kissing can be more intimate than intercourse,” says Goldman. “It’s so simple and it feels so good if you take the time.”
Realize what’s amazing about married sex.
The novelty of nonmarried sex can’t hold a candle to the trust and openness that’s most possible within the realm of marriage. It’s the perfect playground for experimentation, and it’s where you learn how to really please one another. Sound too corny to be true? Well, lots of couples say they’re okay with a decrease in the quantity of sex because the quality is so much better.
“There is nothing more satisfying than the depth of having sex with someone who is your life partner — nobody knows you better, and nothing is more honest,” says Coché. “You’ve watched each other’s lives — your birthdays, your holidays, maybe the birth of a child — and that
creates a kind of sex that’s not like anything else. That’s what makes married sex so special.”