If I could create my dream job, I’d find myself in a position of being somewhere between Dear Abby and Dr. Ruth. The trouble with that is, I am highly under qualified for such a position. I am what I would consider an arm chair enthusiast, self help and sex positivity are my jam. So, with that said, I’m grateful to know some incredible people to bring some credibility to such writing endeavors. I think that if we could talk more about sex, maybe we would all carry a little less baggage and live a little more fully.
When it comes to sex, everyone has something to say. More often than not, those voices are not ones of positivity and inclusivity. We hear from the media, medical professionals, religion, our families, the list goes on. One of the major messages that we receive is that other people aren’t just having sex, they are having a lot of sex; and we’re not talking about “worn out parents at the end of the day, mustering all they’ve got to make it happen” kind of sex. We’re talking award-worthy sex that is happening spontaneously and passionately, every time. Well, I’m here to tell you, that is not the case. Since deep down you probably know that, I’m going to offer some insight as to what many couples are actually experiencing and some practical ways to get your sex life where you want it to be.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Christina McDowell, PhD., a Kansas City based certified sex therapist, and one of the most passionate and knowledgable women I have had the pleasure of meeting. To prepare for our conversation, I reached out to a large handful of fellow parents, and with resounding redundancy, they wanted to know how to revive their sex lives. Let’s face it — we’re tired, we’re busy, and making time for sex can feel like a chore that we don’t know how to tackle.
Dr. McDowell offered powerful insight into fitting sex in. She explained that one of the best ways to make sex a priority, is to schedule it. Just typing that sentence I can feel the sighs of disgust and eye rolls. Hear me out though before you make up your mind.
She explained that although we don’t call it “scheduled sex”, back when the relationship started, that’s exactly what was happening. Let me set the scene: You’re dating, you get yourself all ready, you prepare by shaving or primping, you spend time and energy flirting and making your desire known, and you know at the end of the evening, you’re going to have sex. You’ve scheduled sex, and there were no yucks about it.
Now that marriage and parenthood are part of life though, scheduling sex can feel like just another to-do added to our already too long lists. A shift in perspective and some intentional focus might go a long way though. Once you and your partner put the deed on the schedule, focus on the parts you used to enjoy. Dr. McDowell suggested doing things that make you feel connected to your sensuality such as dancing or picking out something to wear that makes you feel sexy. Another thing worth trying is flirting with each other and texting throughout the day, making an effort to be emotionally connected. I think so often we run on auto pilot that taking the time to be intentional with our partners and letting them know we see them, and in turn being seen by them, has a lot of power.
Communicate With Your Partner
Another important facet regarding the frequency of sex is recognizing that sex is both an individual experience and a shared experience, and libidos may not always match. The key to a happy and healthy sex life is communication. Honestly, the key to most things in life is communication.
While passionate, exciting sex is great, it’s also perfectly normal and healthy to realize that doesn’t always have to be the goal. The truth is, we don’t always have that type of energy. Dr. McDowell explained how communication plays a huge role in our sex lives. Communicating to your partner that you want to be there for them but the idea of trying to achieve an orgasm may be too daunting of a task, can take the pressure off while still engaging — if that’s what both partners want. Mismatched libido is a topic worthy of another post, but working toward a sex life where communication is open and respectful, and increasing connection and intimacy are good goals to have.
One last nugget of wisdom that Dr. McDowell shared was the fact that “plain Jane” sex is perfectly fine, and that sometimes sex is like frozen pizza night. I l found that analogy to be both comforting and entertaining. “If the sex is good enough half the time, you’re doing well,” said Dr. McDowell.
We can’t always have 5 star dinners, and we try to not make it a habit of having frozen pizza for dinner every night, but we all need fed. As for finding that magic number, only you and your partner can decide what leaves you feeling fed and content.