I have a question about sex. As in, how do I have it? More specifically, how do I have it with my husband?
Part of the reason is that we have each experienced some medical issues over the past few years (surgeries for both of us, some in the groinal area, that required recovery time) but also we just don’t seem to have much sexual desire at all. I personally get an urge right around when I ovulate but the rest of the month I am just fine without.
Let me be clear: it isn’t that one of us is asking for it and being turned down. Neither of us initiates or even mentions it.
I think the biggest thing is that we haven’t done it in so long (like, so long that our condoms have expired!) is that we’ve sort of forgotten how. I don’t mean where things go, I mean, I think we’ve forgotten how to get into the headspace of physical intimacy that goes beyond cuddling, snuggling, hugs, kisses, and foot/back rubs.
We’re at the stage of thinking seriously about having kids, which – at least to start with – requires sex. But I would like it to be fun, and good, and not just about making a baby.
Personally, I think part of the reason sex is awkward/embarrassing for me is that I have never (to my knowledge) reached orgasm. Sex feels good, I enjoy it when it’s happening, but I do generally feel “unfulfilled” at the end, as if I’ve come close to the pinnacle and just missed it, but never (in solo masturbation, oral, hand, penile, vibrator, etc.) have I climaxed, and so I feel ashamed of that, and guilty for not “being able to” or making my Partner feel that he hasn’t “done it right” because I didn’t come. (Not sure I would know if I did, though – it seems obvious in the movies and in books but we all know they are not to be trusted in these areas.)
Can you and your readers give us some advice on how two committed people in a long-term relationship can get back in the swing of Adult Sexytimes?
If You Have a Clever Nickname I Would Be Happy To Use It
Dear Clever Nickname:
I don’t know how to keep the sexy good times going in a long-term relationship, so your question is helping me learn new stuff. I polled my long-married friends and they all said variations of the same thing:
- “You just have to do it.”
- “If you wait until you are in the mood, you’ll never do it.”
- “Just do it over and over again until you get bored with it. Like exercise.”
- “Just do it.”
- “The moments when you would rather wrap yourself in the cozy blanket of being by yourself and not touching someone you find kind of irritating and possibly shaped wrong? Those moments are actually when you can/should reach over and cop a feel to get things going. “
- “Go out of your way to do something nice for the other person and see if that gets everyone in the mood.”
The extremely kind, talented, and gorgeous Mistress of Fine Arts answered at length, below. Two things before I turn it over to her:
- It is interesting to me that all of the people who responded were women (even though I asked men and women), so I’d be particularly interested to hear from men in the comments. How are you keeping it sexy inside your relationships? Conventional wisdom says that women are the complicated ones, with our weird moods and our sexual gatekeeping, and if we just took our tops off or put our hands on your junk (which we might do more if you would clean the house more) it would be nothing but Sexy Times, All The Time, but I’m pretty sure that men are more complicated than that. Spill it, brothers.
- The pressure to have (or incur) an orgasm has killed many a mood. There maybe be medical problems that you want to talk to your doctor about, but it might also help you to think about Julius Meinl. Not Austrian banker & billionaire Julius Meinl (THAT WILL NOT HELP YOU). Let me explain. When you order a fancy coffee drink at Julius Meinl, they bring it to you on a silver tray with a doily and a little glass of water, and they also bring you a little gingerbready-wafer cookie on the side. For a while, they ran out of wafer cookies, and at brunch one day we were like “Uh, where is our fancy cookie?” and the waiter said they’d run out and we said “Okay!” and drank our fabulous fancy coffee and ate our delicious brunch. No cookie! Brunch still delicious! Coffee still fancy! Brunching partners still vivacious and delightful!
Dear Clever Nickname:
It’s easy to have Sexy Fun Times when you’re dating. Everything’s new, there’s the thrill of exploring a new partner and having them explore you, and you don’t have a decade of history weighing you down. After ten years of unsexy day-to-day life, complete with fretting over whose turn is it to do the dishes or take out the garbage or get the car repaired, etc., not to mention things like getting each other through groinal surgeries, which no doubt forged a stronger bond between you but probably didn’t put you in the mood for romance – it’s a lot harder to recapture that thrill. There are profound satisfactions that come from being together that long and caring for each other that deeply, but satisfaction and passion aren’t the same thing. They’re not mutually exclusive, though, and it’s terrific that you guys still have physical intimacy of the non-sexual kind. Clearly you care about making each other feel good.
But if sex has fallen out of your repertoire, it’s going to take some effort to get it back in there. This can – and should! – be FUN effort, but you can’t just sit back and wait for Sexy Fun Times to happen on their own. You need to make them happen. And what I’m about to say may sound like cheesy advice-column hokum, but I speak from experience: schedule a date. Seriously. My husband and I have a standing once-a-month date, where we devote ourselves to having romantic time with no worrying about work, or what needs doing around the house, or anything else. We just take pleasure in each other, and we reconnect with why we fell in love in the first place – and this carries over into the rest of the month. It’s done wonders for our marriage.
So, make a date with your husband. Get yourselves out of your usual routine a little. Maybe you want to go out for a nice dinner. Maybe you want to stay home with a bottle of wine and good music. Do whatever’s going to put you in a happier, more romantic head-space. What sorts of things did you guys do back when you started dating? Try doing that. Try doing that regularly; this shouldn’t just be a one-time thing, because that will put too much pressure on you both. The idea here is not to approach this as a “we must have Sexy Fun Times, right now!” kind of thing, but a mutual, “we want to have fun and make each other feel good” sort of date. (It *is* mutual, right? You don’t mention in your letter whether your husband also wants to rekindle the sex life, or whether he’s happy with the status quo. If he’s happy as things are, you may face an uphill battle, since it takes effort on both your parts to make this work. That said, very few people are likely to be put off by hearing the person they love say, “I love you and I want to make you feel good – in your pants.”)
And then, once you’re having a nice time together, and you’ve let yourselves relax a little, well, someone has to make the first move to tip things over from Nice Relaxing Times into Adult Sexytimes. The cuddling, kisses, and foot/back rubs that you guys usually do can make a great lead-in; start there, and let the hands wander. Or you could try something more direct: take your clothes off and go for it. Watch some porn if it gets you in the mood. Find ways to surprise each other. There are all sorts of ways for this to happen, but again, you need to MAKE it happen. If your husband isn’t moving things towards sexiness, take the lead yourself. Go for the gusto.
If this doesn’t work the first time, don’t worry about it. Have another date. The whole point is to enjoy yourselves. Which brings me to the other part of your question: your inability to orgasm. If I could magically solve this problem for you, I absolutely would (and I imagine my services would be much in demand), but no advice columnist has this power. If it really concerns you, I recommend that you consult with a doctor and/or a therapist about it. But what I *can* suggest is, when you’re trying to get back in the habit of having sex with your husband, don’t view orgasms as the goal. There’s no surer way to kill a sexy mood than by worrying that you’re doing it wrong, and really, if sex feels good and you enjoy it when it’s happening, nobody’s doing anything wrong. Feeling good is what you’re there for, and wherever that good feeling takes you, whether it’s to a distinct climax or to less defined happy times, it’s all great. Don’t let somebody else’s narrative of how sex is supposed to go get in the way of your fun.