My Pillow Is Your Pillow

My Pillow Is Your Pillow – We will give you guidelines to communicate effectively about your sexual needs. We will show you how to overcome some of the obstacles to a great sex life. Also, we’ll show you how men and women view sex differently. This chapter will give you some ideas for improving your sex life.

➤ Why sex changes when you are married
➤ Guidelines for improving communication about sex ➤ Overcoming obstacles to a great sex life
➤ The different ways that men and women view sex ➤ How birth control issues can affect your sex life

Marriage and Sex

We all have heard many jokes about sex (or lack of it) in married life. But, sexual satisfaction is much greater in marriage for three reasons. First, the commitment of mar- riage gives us a comfort that can be found in no other relationship. Second, over time we learn how to better please our mate. And third, with effort, communication gets better with time, and good sex is largely a function of good communication.

John and Pamela were attracted to each other the instant they met. They had a very fulfilling sex life many years into their marriage. Now, several years later, things are very different. They have sex much less often and enjoy it less than they used to. Both of them are sad and frustrated by this but don’t know what went wrong or how to make things better.

You might be wondering what else is going on in their lives. Well, it’s probably no surprise that Pamela and John have a three-year-old and Pamela is pregnant with their second child. They bought a home two years ago and their budget has been tight since then. Pamela is working an extra 10 hours a week to help with the monthly bills, and she is not happy with the child-care arrangement for their three- year-old daughter. It’s difficult for them to have a ful- filling sexual relationship in the middle of all of this stress.

This scenario, unfortunately, is very common in married life. Slowly, at first imperceptibly, sex with your spouse might get relegated to a lower priority. In the beginning of your marriage, sex might have been one of the main focuses in your life, but it can now take a back seat even to a good night’s sleep! This can take a toll on your marriage. Read on to see ways to get your sex life back on track.

Communication and Sex

Communication is the key to a great sex life. You need to let your spouse know that you are interested in having sex. Leaving him or her guessing can lead to disaster. And letting your partner know exactly what feels good to you is also important.

Jim and Loretta generally enjoyed their intimate time together, but lack of communication had them sending mixed messages about when they wanted sex. Sometimes, when Loretta gave Jim a hug, he thought she wanted to go to bed, but she just wanted a hug. He tended to think that any physical approach from Loretta meant she wanted to have sex. He also assumed that when he sent her a signal by rubbing her shoulders, she would know he was interested in having sex. But, usually, she just thought he was rubbing her shoulders!

Marriage Q & A’s

Q: Shouldn’t my spouse just “know” when I want to have sex?

A: No. It’s important to be clear when you are interested in having sex. You will avoid disappointment and improve your sex life in general.

This misunderstanding interfered with their enjoyment of sex because they each felt that the other was playing games. They came to see us to figure out how to improve things. We asked how often each of them wanted to be intimate. Jim answered two to three times a week, and Loretta answered one to two times a week. Then we asked both of them if they felt comfortable agreeing to have sex on average two times a week, an amount that coincided with both of their answers. They both agreed. We pointed out that they should be direct about their desires, so they would not send mixed messages. We advised them to say, “How’s tonight for you?” It took less than one month for their sex life to be better than ever. They began to build trust again because they no longer sent each other mixed messages.

Obstacles to a Great Sex Life

The responsibilities you face as a married couple can be overwhelming and exhausting. You might be working long hours, be concerned about your child who is sick, or be worried about meeting your budget this month. Making the transition to having fun is difficult when you have a lot on your mind. You need to allow yourself to put aside your day-to-day worries and focus on each other.

Early in your married life, having sex was probably a very high priority in your rela- tionship. Now sex might be a lower priority because there are so many other things to get done. It can be difficult to think about having sex when you are thinking about your other responsibilities. There are dirty dishes, piles of laundry, pressures from work, and other members of the family to think about. That surely doesn’t conjure up romantic images.

Exhaustion can also interfere with your sex life. Most people are usually not interested in having sex when they are tired. Married couples (especially those with children) tend to be exhausted at the end of the day. All they can think about is get- ting a good night’s sleep. Chances are very high that one or the other of you is tired, which does not bode well for a fulfilling sex life. One way to improve the situation is to go to sleep very early one night to rest up for the next special evening together.

Answer the following questions to help you focus on potential sticking points in your sex life with your spouse.

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, write down ideas you might have to improve the issue. For instance, if you are exhausted when you have sex, you might try a different time. And if you feel distracted, you could set the mood to help make the transition to intimacy. Discuss your ideas with your spouse and put them into action right away. You will immediately see an improvement in your sex life.

Plan to Have Good Sex

We plan many other fun activities, such as going to a baseball game, seeing a movie, or traveling. Why not plan on having sex? Many people feel that sex needs to be spontaneous and carefree to be satisfying. We are often disappointed in our sex lives with our spouse because it doesn’t seem to be fun and spontaneous anymore. Look at your answers to the earlier questions. Are you exhausted or stressed out? Do you have less of a sex drive than 10 years ago? Do you have kids? You can’t expect a sex life to emerge spontaneously in the middle of all that chaos. It doesn’t mean you can’t have great sex. And it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your spouse. It simply means that you are more tired and overcommitted.

As mundane and “unsexy” as it may seem, many mar- ried couples would do well to plan their sex life ahead of time. The same principles on dating we discussed in Chapter 4, “Keeping the Passion Alive,” apply here. You are busy and involved in many other things; time slips by without even realizing it. You need to set aside time for intimacy with your spouse. If you rely exclusively on spontaneity, you might find that you are forever getting and giving mixed messages about when each of you wants to have sex.

Here are three things to remember in order to have great sex with your spouse:

  1. Make sure you set aside time for a sexual rela- tionship together.
  2. Don’t bring your day-to-day worries into the bedroom.
  3. Communicate your sexual desires and do your best to accommodate each other.

Men and Women Are Different

Sex tends to be a more of an emotional issue for women and more of a physical issue for men. While this is obviously not a hard and fast rule, there is a certain truth to it.

For Women Only

The following is a list of things that women need to keep in mind:

  1. Men don’t always need to be the ones to initiate sex. Your husband will proba- bly enjoy being approached by you first. Your advances will make him feel at- tractive.
  2. Never be judgmental if things don’t go perfectly. Blaming or getting angry can be devastating and can hurt your relationship. Kindness and patience will get you back on track.
  3. Even though men tend to be more physically oriented, they have an emotional side, too. From time to time, set a romantic mood for your husband. Prepare a candle-lit dinner and play beautiful music. Be creative!
  4. Your husband wants you to enjoy intimacy, but he can’t read your mind. Communicate with him and let him know what you want.

Answer the following 6 questions as honestly as possible on a scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). They will help you identify ways to improve your sex life with your husband.

How did you do? If you answered all of the questions with a 4 or 5, congratulations! If not, write down each issue you answered with a 1, 2, or 3 and list several things you could do to improve the situation. Remember the importance of communication, putting aside other worries, and setting aside time to be intimate with your husband.

For Men Only

The following is a list of things that men need to keep in mind:

  1. Women are generally more emotional than men. Let your wife know how much you love her and how close you feel to her.
  2. Women like to feel emotionally close to their partner when they are intimate. Unresolved conflicts will interfere with your sex life, so take the time to apolo- gize for anything you might have done wrong (even if you don’t feel like it!). Both of you will feel better, and your intimate time together will be more special.
  3. Women can enjoy physical closeness without sex. Sometimes she just might want to cuddle and feel close to you.
  4. Don’t take sex so seriously. If something goes wrong, it’s not the end of the world. Your wife loves you, so just relax and try again.

Answer the following five questions as honestly as possible on a scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always). They will help you identify ways to improve your sex life with your wife.

How did you do? If you answered all the questions with a 4 or 5, congratulations! If not, write down each issue you answered with a 1, 2, or 3 and list several things you could do to improve the situation. Keep in mind the importance of communication, putting aside other worries, and setting aside time to be intimate with your wife.

Birth Control and Married Sex

All couples need to consider both whether they want to use birth control and, if so, what type of birth control will work best for them. Issues about having children and whether or not to use birth control can greatly interfere with your married sex life.

You and your spouse need to decide together whether or not you want to use birth control and for how long. If you don’t, you will be turning what should be a joint de- cision into a game of Russian roulette in the bedroom—every sexual encounter will involve thinking about, or fighting about, whether or not to use birth control.

For example, if one of you wants to try for a child now and the other wants to wait a year or so, you will feel tension whenever you are intimate. In Chapter 15, “Planning the Unplannable,” we will discuss in greater detail how to work through the issue of whether or when to have children, but remember that disagreements on timing will interfere with your sex life. You and your spouse must discuss these issues outside of the bedroom and come to an agreement that you can both live with.

If the two of you agree about wanting to wait to have children or about not having them at all, you need to think about a birth control method. You might have already chosen one that works well for you. Different methods have certain advantages and certain problems. If you decide to use birth control, take the time to speak with your doctor to choose a method that will best suit both of your needs.

Marriage Q & A’s

Q: Where can I get more information about birth control?

A: Detailed information about birth control methods is available at family planning clinics, student health centers, and many doctor’s offices. In addition to information, they usually supply some methods of birth control, such as the Pill or diaphragms.

The Least You Need to Know

  • ➤  Communication is the key to a great sex life. Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind.
  • ➤  The day-to-day grind can damper your interest in sex. Planning ahead to have sex can improve your sex life.
  • ➤  For women, sex tends to be a more emotional issue. For men, sex tends to be a more physical issue.
  • ➤  Decide together whether to use birth control and what kind to use.