By: Gary Gasbard
Even before the pressures of the coronavirus put relationships to the test, many couples found achieving intimacy a continuous, evolving challenge. The barriers to true intimacy are everywhere: couples are pulled apart by the demands of work, answering the call of parenthood, and dealing with any number of personal, financial, and health-related stresses. The reality is that successfully cultivating daily moments of intimate connection with your partner can result in a deeply fulfilling relationship. But what about times when you can’t seem to stay connected emotionally and sexually? It’s easy to understand how you may have drifted apart, let your baggage and busy schedules get in the way, so you stopped being vulnerable and intimate with one another.
Making love to your partner with words
The fluid dynamics of the factors that get in the way of intimacy change over time, and many couples find that these impediments develop over the years of committed partnerships. Building a great sex life is about emotional connection. Couples who use intimate communication skills, such as The Gottman-Rapoport Blueprint, can become more comfortable talking about lovemaking and sharing their needs and desires. Dr. John Gottman notes in his book “What Makes Love Last?” that emotional devotion enhances a couple’s sex life and vice versa. Sexual and emotional intimacy are related and heightened by making a commitment to stay connected. Sexual intimacy is more than just the act of “having sex.” It includes all manner of touching such as hugging, holding hands, and tender touch. These are all great ways to affirm your love for your partner. Physical affection sets the stage for sexual touch that’s focused on pleasure. Without emotional and physical intimacy, your relationship and sex life might feel insufficient and monotonous.
Making love to your partner with words and talking about sex as a form of foreplay can increase sexual and emotional intimacy. Sex talk can definitely spice things up when the demands of jobs, kids, and the household are piling up. All it takes is a willingness to try to be more sensual and the right attitude.
Here is a possible dialogue for couples who want to learn about each other and grow together emotionally and sexually:
“I feel left out when you don’t open up to me. I’d like to know what you’re thinking when I share my feelings with you.”
“I feel happy when we have more foreplay because it gives me time to warm-up.”
“When we have loving sex, I feel closer to you. I’d like to talk about ways we can please each other sexually and both get our needs met.”
Practiced daily, this type of dialogue will promote both a stronger emotional and sexual connection. Couples who spend at least 30 minutes daily in conversation with one another and express love, affection, and admiration will foster a closer bond and thrive both in and out of the bedroom.
Tell your partner what you desire
Many preconceived notions about what might please a partner sexually aren’t based on fact. They might even prevent you from reaching out to ask about their preferences such as where they would like to make love, when, and how. Likewise, you might not feel comfortable discussing your own likes and dislikes. However, one of the key elements of a great sex life is being able to talk about your preferences and showing your partner what you desire. When was the last time you talked to your partner about your sexual needs? Most of us go through life feeling shame about our sexual desires and we suffer from distorted beliefs, such as “My partner should know what I need.” But you will be more likely to get your sexual needs met if you state them directly as a bid for connection and patiently wait for a response.
According to Michelle Weiner Davis, author of “The Sex Starved Marriage,” making time to focus on pleasure, instead of having an orgasm, can bring couples unpressured, playful sexual intimacy. This works best when couples agree to go slower, communicate, try different positions within each sexual encounter, and take turns pleasing each other rather than being goal-oriented in their sexual touch. Further, the best way to deal with differences in sex desire is by communicating openly and respectfully about your needs, while being receptive to what your partner’s desires might be. Rather than criticizing your partner, show them what turns you on!
Being more sensual in your communication with your partner includes talking about how attracted to them, you are, how attractive you think he or she is, and what you look forward to during your time alone together. Saying something like “I love it when we cuddle on the sofa and you touch me” can boost your emotional intimacy.
In other words, it’s a great idea to focus on sensual touch such as holding hands with your partner, cuddling more often, initiating sex more, and demonstrating your love through physical contact. In fact, touching can release oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and causes a calming sensation. Studies by Julianne Holt-Lundstad of Brigham Young University show that oxytocin is released during sexual orgasm and affectionate touch as well. Physical affection also reduces stress hormones, which lowers daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases a person’s sense of relationship satisfaction. When you have the time, enjoy sharing a massage before sleep!
Scheduling at least one date night a week when you don’t focus on work or your family can also help you rekindle passion with your partner because you’re making intimacy a priority. Responding positively to your partner’s overtures for emotional and sexual connection will help you bring out the best in one another and keep your relationship fulfilling and sexually satisfying. Sex in a good partnership serves its purpose to enhance vitality and satisfaction. Give your partner the gift of love and passion today. The good vibes that you feel after sex can help to keep you close for days!