If the terms non-existent, apathetic, begrudging, hit-or-miss, or boring describe your sex life, it may be time to marshal your resources and get back in the game.
Solo and partnered sexual activity has measurable physical and emotional benefits, like improved circulation and sleep, reduced stress and pain, improved pelvic tone, and a greater sense of well-being. Women with partners report that sexual activity increases feelings of closeness and intimacy.
Sex may sometimes feel like just one more demand on your body and sleep time, after you’ve attended to your family’s needs, employment, and other responsibilities. These feelings are understandable, and it’s fine to put sex on the back burner; however, if you want to get your mojo back eventually, don’t let the heat cool completely.
Ask yourself a few questions:
When did my sexual interest start to wane? Was my sexual-pleasure-seeking body replaced by a child-attuned Mommy Body? Was I slammed with work, home, or caregiving responsibilities? Did my partner give up trying to please me, if sex was ever pleasurable to begin with? Did a health crisis make sexual activity too challenging? Did my interest dip once the hormonal highs of a new relationship tapered off?
Once you identify what caused your desire to slump, you may choose to begin making small changes designed to turn up the heat. (If you’ve never enjoyed sexual activity, ask your healthcare provider about medical issues that may interfere with sexual desire or pleasure.)
- Focus on Intimacy. Intimacy sets the stage for quality sex and builds through conversations, shared jokes and experiences, physical affection, and trust. Intimacy is important for single people, too; everyone needs people who warm their heart.
- Turn Back Time. Who or what turned you on at the times you’ve felt the most sexually interested and satisfied? Try to reconnect with those feelings.
- Dress for Success. If your clothes carry the stains and smells of your day, it may be harder to feel sexually interested once you have time to relax. Try changing into something that energizes you and feels yummy on your skin, even if all you plan to do is snuggle on the sofa.
- Take Time Off. Build in some time each week when you are off Parent Duty and can do something for yourself.
- Exercise Daily. Even 15 minutes of stretching can help get your blood flowing, keep you limber, and get you touch with your body.
- Date Your Partner Every Week. If child care is difficult, date in the living room when the kids are sleeping or are otherwise engaged. Build intimacy through conversation, a game, or other bonding activities that let you focus on each other.
- Don’t Have Sex Begrudgingly. Fulfilling a partner’s needs is great, but if you’re left unsatisfied time and again, you’ll feel used and your partner will feel undesired. If you often find yourself creating grocery lists during sex, consider contacting a sexuality educator or therapist to help you and your partner communicate better.
- Please Yourself. Sexual pleasure builds the desire for more pleasure, so start exploring your body and what turns you on.
- Say Yes. Women often get physically turned on before they experience emotional desire. The next time your partner reaches out, ask for the kind of sensual touch that helps you relax. Take your time – most women need at least 20 minutes to become sufficiently aroused for satisfying sexual activity.
By keeping the spark alive during the slow times, your body and mind will be in sync when you’re ready to turn up the heat.
Melanie Davis, PhD, CSE is a Bedminster, NJ-based sexuality education consultant and author of the women’s sexual and self-esteem reflection journal, “Look Within: A Woman’s Journal” and the eWorkbook, “Sexuality Talking Points: A guide toward thoughtful conversations between parents and children.” www.melaniedavisphd.com