First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes...the dry spell. Once you tie the knot, these common bedroom occurrences (good and bad!) are the new normal. By Anne Roderique-Jones, REDBOOK.
Goodbye afternoon delights
Married couples quickly become experts on the art of the quickie. When kids come into play (literally - keep a lookout!), that long, leisurely lovemaking becomes a thing of the past. If you're not hiding from your children, you're cramming in a quick romp before a dinner party. Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, relationship builder and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery, says not to settle for too many quickies and unsatisfying lovemaking. She suggests couples turn off the TV, get the kids to bed early, lock the bedroom door, and enjoy each other. There is more time and more opportunity than most couples realize. "Even a playful and romantic encounter at 4am can be a great way to connect."
Don't fake it if you wanna make it
Sadly, many ladies are pros at faking the big O. But save your fauxgasm for the theater, à la Meg Ryan. Orlov says, "Never fake an orgasm. And don't feel pressured that you need to have one every time you have sex - and this goes for both of you. Taking the pressure off both of you will lend itself to better sex." Whether you're doing it to make your guy feel like a hero, or just can't get the gumption to get going, you're ultimately hurting each other. "I no longer fake it in bed," says Bethany Rochella*, 34, of Springfield, MO. "I used to give an Oscar-winning performance. I'd flip my hair around, make sure the headboard hit the wall and probably woke the neighbors. Now, if I don't get off, I just pout - which I should have done a long time ago because we have more foreplay and he tries harder." Orlov mentions how important it is to keep the communication open and let each other know what feels good. "Don't be afraid to gently suggest a certain touch during sex or gently guide your partner and show him what feels good. And, don't forget to ask your spouse if there is anything that he would like you to do differently in the bedroom as well," says Orlov.
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A no-embarrassment zone
Gas, not-so-recently trimmed nether regions, or the worst offender, quifes, are ultra-embarrassing bedroom blunders that make most women shudder. The bad news? You're bound to experience these mishaps over time. But wheres pre-marriage, a bubbly belly might send you rethinking any opportunity of a second date, you're now more likely to laugh at these mortifying moments. Even if you've been together for ages, these kinds of mishaps can cause major humiliation in a long-term relationship, so when these moments happen to you, do just that: laugh, brush it off, and know that sex trumps embarrassing bodily functions any day.
Obligatory baby-making sex
The first few months of trying to get pregnant are fun - sex is a priority and there is plenty of it. But, it can start to feel like a chore when you're doing the deed for one very special reason. For Everett Simms*, 32, of New Orleans, LA, after a few months of baby-making, sex became more of an obligation and much less hot and bothered. Now trying for number two, she says, "With the second one, it is way more business because we have to fit it in before our toddler wakes up, while she is napping, or after she goes to bed. One time we put her in her high chair, gave her a snack and put on her favorite show so we could have day-sex. Spontaneity is all but erased from the conception vocabulary." But baby-making sex can be fun - it's important to remember that sex is not only about baby, but the two of you. Enjoy the act and stop focusing on the outcome.
The reward for baby-making sex? Pregnant sex!
It's true that baby-making sex can be a major downer - especially if it takes time to get pregnant. But for those who do, there's a reward just around the bend: pregnant sex! Women's hormones and sensitivity to touch increase during this time, which makes for extra enjoyable, revved-up romps. "Pregnant sex was awesome after my husband got over his paranoia about hurting the baby," says Simms. "My second trimester was definitely the best - I had lusty dreams nearly every night and remembered every detail. Our sex life definitely benefited from this."
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You can leave the lights on
When you've spent years with your partner, and he knows almost everything about you, it no longer feels necessary to do it in the dark. "I think leaving the lights on has much more to do with how comfortable you are with yourself than with the other person," says Victoria Fleming, PhD, a marriage therapist and the author of You Complete Me and Other Myths that Destroy Happily Ever After. And when you're in a really solid marriage, if you have a partner that builds you up and makes you feel good about yourself, you will get very comfortable." Orlov says, "Believe it or not, both men and women can feel self-conscious about their bodies, especially as they get older." She suggests that if your husband is feeling uncomfortable, let him know how much he turns you on and how much you enjoy being with him in every way. And if you're the one who prefers the lights out, she recommends finding a new way to feel sexy. "Maybe it's wearing some sexy lingerie, maybe it's simply appreciating your sexuality so matter what shape you are in. And if all else fails, you don't have to go all out with 100 watt bulbs - using mood lighting or candle light creates a very romantic, sexy, and body friendly atmosphere," says Orlov.
50 Shades of Grey-style experimenting
If a man asked a woman if she'd like to be handcuffed or spanked the first time he slept with her, it probably wouldn't score him any points - or lead to scoring at all. But once you're married, experimentation is often a part of steamy sex. Bravery in the bedroom comes with trust, and that's something you earn from your spouse as the two of you rack up notches on the bedpost. Trying new positions, toys, or games in the sack is a completely healthy way to keep the spark alive.
It's about quality, not quantity
There's a good chance the term "dry spell" was coined by a married person. Sex lulls are all-too-common once you put a ring on it, but not to fear: quality often trumps quantity after you tie the knot. Sure, an urgent nooner may be a thing of the past, but when you do get down to business, it's usually pretty darn good because you know what your partner likes. Orlov's a firm believer in flirting with your spouse no matter how long you've been married. "Send a flirty text, build some sexual tension, and surprise each other with something new and different every now and then. And remember, emotional intimacy generates the best sex, so don't underestimate the benefits of being in a long-term relationship or marriage," says Orlov. Being married is about constantly working to make your spouse happy - both in and out of the bedroom - and by continuously fine-tuning your skills, sex gets better and better.
Bartering for bedroom time
Many married couples fall victim of trading things for sex. He does the dishes and is rewarded with some down-and-dirty time. Fleming believes that bartering is okay, as long as the delivery is kept flirty and kind. She suggests saying something like, "I'd love to, but I just can't seem to get in the mood with that big mess over there!" You won't have to wait long for his eyes to light up and the task to get done.
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Awesome vacation sex
Break out the passports! Married couples know that sex away from home is the best kind of nookie. With this little thing called daily life, it's easy to get into a sexual rut. But vacation time is a one-way ticket to awesome sex for most married couples. Vacays are a chance to get away from life's stressors, relax, have a few cocktails, and experience much-needed one-on-one time. Plus, being in a totally new location (with a new bed!) often sets the scene for steamy sex time - at least a week's worth.
It's no secret that marriage takes work, hard work. Even the most happily married couples have had their ups and downs. But, healthy fighting is natural - and pretty unavoidable - in marriage, and with every blow-out comes the make-up. Fleming says that the perk of getting through a fight is reaffirming your commitment to one another. "There's a dark side, however," she cautions. "If you get into a cycle of using the charge of the fight to get the momentum going in the bedroom, you could become dependent on that cycle and fight more than you should."
Sex doesn't come in a one-size-fits-all kind of package, and it's normal for couples to go though different styles and seasons when it comes to their sex life. There's that style of sex that may seem completely functional, or the difficult-to-avoid exhausted sex. This can be scary for couples when they look back on that "I can't get enough of you sex" that happens when you're first dating - but this kind of sex is okay too - to a point. It's vital to remember that marriage is about adapting with each other, and sex styles often change over time. What's important is that you're both satisfied with the sex you're having, and making it known to each other that the fiery connection is still there.
*Names have been changed.
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