Article written by Monica Cook
Original article featured in Monica’s website
Sex is all around us in the form of advertising, Hollywood films and pornography. It unknowingly shapes the expectations we place on our own sex lives and leaves many of us wondering whether we have sex often enough, make the right sounds or use enough positions and variety that prove ourselves worthy of being ‘good in bed’.
The question ‘am I normal’ is really a plea for validation in a world that portrays an unrealistic picture of the sort of sex we ought to be having – free, wild, spontaneous sex with no protection and with young, hair free, beautifully toned, tanned unblemished bodies. How many of us fall into that category? Not me for one…it’s no wonder many of us feel secretly broken or dysfunctional in some way.
The truth is, you and your spouse get to define good sex and find contentment right there. Missionary position every night? Go for it. Once a week or once a month – if you’re both happy with it – go for it. That’s good sex and the bible is all for it: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” – Proverbs 5:18-19
But it’s rarely that easy. Why? Because people are innately different and relationships move through seasons. The chances of having the same sexual desire levels, or even the same understanding of what sex means to you is rare. Then you may have to navigate different circumstances (having children, sickness etc.) which may make it harder to stay ‘intoxicated’ with love or satisfied by those very familiar (and now droopy) breasts.
This means you’re going to have to communicate (and listen), make practical changes and be flexible in a way that transforms your sex life into something that is satisfying and edifying for both. It also may mean being curious and creative – because despite what our ‘intercourse oriented’ society might tell you, there is more to sex than orgasming and there are many ways to express intimacy and receive pleasure.
This is good news for parents of young kids because, let’s face it, options are needed when one or both partners are too exhausted to roll over to face each other. Here are some practical ideas you might want to consider in working at your sex life.
Kiss and tell – have an honest and loving conversation around sex
It is important to find the time to have a conversation around sexual preferences outside of the bedroom setting. Don’t assume your spouse is a psychic and knows what you do and don’t like. Secondly, don’t assume that your partner is the same person he or she was on the honeymoon night (or soon after). Bodies change, the cocktail of hormones that led you to being addicted to your spouse begin to wear off and sexual boredom can be a very real thing for some couples.
So be sure to ask your spouse about the things they like, times that work well for them and frequency preference. Also lay out different options depending on energy levels, and things that are off limits (like initiating sex past 10pm!). Be curious and willing to listen and ask open-ended questions with the understanding that they might like a ‘different’ kind of sex.
Get in the right headspace
Identify elements that move both of you from the crazy parent headspace to ‘I am human again’ (a nap, shower, glass of wine, mindfulness exercises, clean room, TV show) and work out creative ways to integrate these elements into regular routines. Also realise that building your relationship is equally as important as caring for your child and benefits them in the long run…so consider intimate time together an equally important parenting duty as getting the lunches ready.
Plan sex or a space for sex to organically happen.
Planning sex does not have to be unromantic (despite what Hollywood may tell you). In actual fact, the anticipation involved can be all the more exciting. It also means you can set aside a time where fatigue or a child crying is not going to distract you. For some couples this might simply mean making space for intimacy (not necessarily intercourse) to spontaneously occur with the mindset being ‘let’s just see where this goes’ and really mean it. No phones, no TV…just the two of you in the bedroom or on a sofa. Get rid of any pressure to perform and simply be mindfully present with one another.
Make practical adjustments – Get a lock on your door (and thank me later). Get some good lube (look at alternatives to KY jelly). Also, be willing to try new positions, new ways of initiating and new contexts for love-making, remembering that sexual intimacy is about an opportunity to connect to another person and not exclusively about intercourse or sexual resolution (which can ultimately be achieved in other ways).
Foreplay the day away
Foreplay is commonly misunderstood for sexual intimacy that happens before intercourse. However, I think it is better defined by anything that prepares your partner positively towards sexual intimacy which may be a warm hug in the morning, a few nice texts throughout the day or even a willingness to help with chores in the night time by asking ‘how can I best help you at this point’ (without it meaning obligatory sex in return for the help!).
It’s often these small acts of kindness and consideration that can greatly foster respect and admiration and contribute to sexual desire. In fact, research has shown that sexual desire increases or decreases depending on the extent to which each person in the couple contributes equally to the relationship – so evidently sharing the workload to make time for intimacy is an important piece of the puzzle.
There are many other things I could suggest, but these are a great starting point to shifting your mindset around what sex really is within your partnership and eliciting a sense of curiosity.
Monica is a sex and fertility educator and speaker with many years of experience presenting to a range of audiences including couples, parents, students, doctors and church congregations.
Holding a Masters of Sexual and Reproductive Health (Psychosexual Therapy) and with qualifications in medical research [PhB Medical Science] and health education [Grad Dip Sci Comm], Monica is well placed to translate the most current information on these topics into practical concepts that enhance sexual wellness and help couples manage their fertility.
In 2018 Monica was offered a position as a Senior Research Fellow at Anglican Deaconess Ministries. It was here she had the unique opportunity to design a sex and fertility program built on theological principles for the Church.
Visit Monica’s website to learn more about her seminars, workshops, education and counselling services.