Dear Shaunti, My husband and I were both pretty sexually inexperienced when we first got married, so everything about our sex life was new, mysterious and exciting. But now we have two teenagers and we both work full-time. When we find the time for physical intimacy, it feels very forced. Like we’re just going through the motions. And that old spark isn’t there outside the bedroom either. A friend suggested that we watch porn movies to get us back to the old excitement, but I’m really not comfortable with it – is that something we should consider? I just want us to be excited about our physical relationship again. It sounds like a cliché to ask what we can do to spice things up again, but… what can we do to spice things up again?
– Bored in the Bedroom
Dear Bored, First, just to get that one question out of the way: run the other direction when someone suggests you watch porn to spice your lackluster sex life up. Poison is not a spice. But thankfully, what will spice things up is – believe it or not! — really, really simple: start flirting with your husband.
I don’t just mean in the bedroom (although that can’t hurt!) but at other times. I gave that same advice to a woman at one of my events, and she emailed me later to say it took courage but she started flirting like this – and saw a change almost immediately. She started by texting her husband about some homework they had to do with the kids that evening and finished her text with, “And if we get done with homework in time to get the kids in bed at a good hour, you can get started on your homework later.”
Her husband came in the door that evening with a huge smile, hugged the kids, and grinned at his wife as he told them ‘homework time!’ Now, some people advocate much more explicit texting – such as with pictures.
I’ll admit: that makes me nervous since all sorts of things could go wrong that could add to your problem instead of adding to your passion. Your kids could find them (don’t underestimate the nosiness factor when it comes to teenagers), one of his buddies could see them by accident, and honestly, once you send something into cyberspace or the cloud, it’s there forever. Hackers routinely find and post those pictures. So I would be very cautious about that. But other than that, sexually playful flirting is great for marriages.
As you’ve maybe experienced in your own life, knowing that you’re going to be physical with your husband at a particular time builds anticipation. If you’re like most women, and you aren’t anticipating it, it is probably difficult for you to just snap your fingers and switch from Mom Mode to Ready to Rock Mode when your husband looks over and gives you that tell-tale wink. But being suggestive with your husband builds serious anticipation – not just in you but in him as well. And being playful keeps it from being oh-so-serious. It builds the ultra-important sense that the two of you can have fun in this area just like any other.
Being purposeful about keeping your love life alive will have benefits far beyond the bedroom: it will truly protect your marriage. For example, I found in my research for For Women Only that if a man’s wife is enthusiastic in bed, it makes him feel loved and supported in a very unique way. For him, it’s not just about the physical act: it’s a way for him to be totally vulnerable with his wife.
Most women need to already feel a strong sense of emotional security and closeness in order to want to have sex. But for a man, sex actually builds emotional security and closeness. If regular, enthusiastic sex makes a guy feel loved and supported, just imagine what it must do for a guy to know that his wife thinks about him in this way when they’re apart and is anticipating being with him later!
So, if texting suggestive things to your husband seems kind of scary to you, slip him a note in his lunch. Whisper something sensual in his ear. Lean over suggestively when you hand him his coffee as he sits at the table after dinner, just enough so that he can see but the kids can’t. Cop a feel when he walks by. Someone has to break the ice, right?
But if you try these things I’ll bet it won’t take long for you to see there’s no more ice to break!
Don't give up on your marriage. It is worth the effort and investment. If you feel like your marriage is struggling, or even failing, there is hope. There is healing.