How to improve your sex life by getting out of your own way.
Guys, may I speak with you for a moment?
First of all, I get it: being turned down for sex is an awful feeling. You take it personally, feel rejected and hurt, and you start to resent your partner or spouse. You have needs, and it feels awful to believe that she doesn’t care about them. But before you go to the place of resentment and blaming, check to make sure you haven’t made one or more of the following mistakes and actually set yourself up to be turned down.
When you initiate sex has much to do with whether or not it’s actually going to happen. Is your partner tired? 11:30 pm after a long day at work is probably not ideal for her. Is she full from a big meal? The thought of sex for her is less than appealing while that burger is just sitting like lead in her stomach.
Is she distracted? It's sometimes difficult for men to comprehend, but many women are unable to become aroused or interested in sex if they’re ruminating on something. It doesn’t even have to be especially upsetting; it might be a future project that needs to be tackled, or a conflict with a friend that requires resolution. This is in stark contrast to guys, where a simple touch of the penis can be all that it takes to erase every other thought in the universe and ready them for sex.
So consider the context and time when you’re thinking about initiating sex; don’t make the mistake of making an advance when you’re likely to be turned down for reasons that have nothing to do with you.
I hear this all the time from women—they want you to be a man! Remember how you were when you started dating? You didn’t ask if she wanted to have sex. You seduced her! You made moves and took control; you were definitive and confident.
Just because you’ve been together for years doesn’t mean it’s sufficient to ask if she’s up for sex. That is a complete turnoff to most women and hardly what you’d call seduction. Ask and you’re not likely to receive. Your partner wants to feel wanted. That’s why you had so much sex in the beginning--not just because it was new, but because you wanted her and she felt that. So let her feel it again!
The third mistake men make is with foreplay, which is so much more than any sexual acts preceding intercourse. Foreplay is 24/7. So it’s important to think about how things have been between you two since your last sexual encounter together. Have you recently fought? If you haven’t resolved it, you can forget about sex tonight. “Make-up sex” only happens after you’ve worked through the problem. Have you been thoughtful and kind? Are you listening to her feelings and accurately reflecting them back?
Again, remember how it was when you were dating. The reason many of your evenings ended with sex wasn’t simply because it was new and exciting. It was because you made effort. You came up with imaginative nights out (i.e. you weren’t just watching TV on the couch and then asking for sex). You sent flowers, you opened her car door for her, and you paid attention to the things that were important to her. You went out of your way to be attentive to her needs.
Maybe you didn’t realize it then, but that was foreplay—'round the clock!
In general, men are lucky: women tend to be far less obsessive and critical about the nuances of our bodies. But guys, they still have standards. It's a mistake to think that she’s going to have the same level of attraction for you after you’ve gained excessive weight or become lazy about your grooming habits. Yes, she’ll still love you, but we’re talking about sex here. Women get turned on by you in ways similar to how you get turned on by them.
Keep yourselves clean; hygiene still matters. And if you were fit when you started dating, keep fit throughout your marriage. You made such an effort to be appealing to her in the beginning. Guess what? It worked. And there’s no reason to think it won’t again.
Finally, guys, know this: I’m not saying there aren’t other reasons why your sex life is anemic. I simply want you to make sure you’ve eliminated the ways in which you could be responsible. When a couples conflict arises, it’s beneficial to examine yourself and your possible contribution to the problem. This may be just the key to a more active and fulfilling sex life.
Adam Fields is a licensed marriage and family therapist located in Encino, California. Contact him to receive a free phone consultation, and get a step closer to a better relationship with your partner, your family and yourself.