How to have the sex you want. Why is there a need for this book?
Although you’ve both changed over the years, you’re probably still having the same sex as when you first met.
However, you are probably not going to the same restaurants, wearing the same clothes, and listening to the same music, so it’s no wonder the spark has gone out of your love life, leaving you both bored and a little frustrated.
Despite the media’s being full of titillation, there is no serious discussion of how to keep passion alive in long-term relationships. Of course, there are books offering “sex tips,” which can be useful if you’re looking for a superficial fix, but they don’t assist in figuring out what has gone awry and why, and most important, what to do about it.
As a marital therapist with close to thirty years of couples counselling experience, I have witnessed this phenomenon over and over again in clients of all ages and stages of their relationships, and I am here to tell you that you don’t have to settle for infrequent or “going through the motions” lovemaking.
You can have the sex you want: passionate, plentiful, and connected. In this book, I show you how to talk to your partner about sex without fighting, how to understand the myths that undermine good lovemaking, and most important, how to be more sensual and “in the moment,” so you forget your everyday concerns, completely let go, and—having stepped away from your to-do list—bask in the joy of fulfilling sex.
It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Except you’re sceptical. Do your problems seem too deep to uncover or your partner so defensive, uninterested in sex, or just plain angry to the point where you can’t fathom ever connecting with him or her the way you used to? Don’t worry; I’ve come across all these problems before, and I’m here as a guide and a source for everything you want to know and need to know about reigniting the spark.
How does the book work?
The first three chapters focus on improving communication and repairing damage done to your relationship through years of shutting each other out, humiliation, misunderstanding, mismatched libido, over- scheduled lives, or any other culprit that caused a gap in your connection.
In Chapter Four, I introduce my ten-week program that defies “logic,” by stripping your lovemaking back to basics and unlearning any bad habits that are driving you apart. By adhering to the “no sex” rule, you will relearn how to turn your partner on, set your fantasies free, and introduce new ideas that could spice up your lovemaking.
In the last two chapters, I offer a lens into the problems of sexual functioning and unresolved issues, including affairs and sex addiction. The book concludes with a recap of the ten-week program along with advice, if you’re reading this book alone, on how to recruit your partner to change your sex life.
You will probably discover that your partner has been lying on the opposite side of the bed feeling just as frustrated as you are, which means there is hope for not just better sex but making a fresh start too.
I’ve bought ‘Make Love Like a Prairie Vole’ do I need this one too?
No. I’ve written this book for the American market and used the same programme. Looking at the text again, I’ve updated and moved some parts around as I thought they would work better in another chapter but it remains basically the same book.
Great book(s) Andrew! I have a particular question and was hoping to get some advice. I am in a a sexless marriage and I found out my partner of 7 years had been having an affair for 2 years (1.5 sexual) with a work colleague, which is now over.
We are going through the 7 steps and making good progress and communication about everything has been great relatively speaking but there is one issue that I/we are struggling with – sex.
We still have sex very infrequently and its driving me crazy, especially after discovering the affair which I suspect was self medication and turned into Tripod.
I have tried to give space and time to work through the 7 steps and along the way I have said that this is something that is important to me/us and we should discuss, yet we never have. Finally after 7 months, I wrote a letter, rather than F2F to avoid creating pressure, explaining this ‘dead body’ and saying that we need to discuss this and work towards a solution together. It was received with a bit of anger at first, though that fizzled out, and acceptance that we need to discuss and I left it in my partners hands as to when (though I said it can’t be months from now).
I think my partner has, and always has had, issues with intimacy b/c this sex problem has always been part of our marriage all along. My partner was able to have a passionate affair (lots of travel, new cloths, grooming etc) yet with me none of this stuff happens and we are just co-parents. My partner also says that sex is more emotional and that they want to control when they have it (suggesting the emotional connection isn’t there yet and my partner has power over me).
I don’t fear the conversation but I do fear that we can’t get this resolved. We are both committed to the relationship, which is strong and has a solid foundation, but I fear that without sex I am going to have an affair and I have gone to great lengths to avoid situations in which I am vulnerable (no work travel, no drinking, counseling etc). I can’t get my partner to read any of the books (they laugh that I do) and my partner is reluctant to go back to counseling. I have never been clear on the level of intimacy I want but that has all changed but I don’t want this to turn into a destructive row. There is clearly a power imbalance and for me this is a line in the sand, no sex = no marriage… How do you have this conversation so it doesn’t become defensive or aggressive?
Andrew G Marshall says
First of all, congratulations for taking such a considered and considerate approach to talking about sex with your partner. However, I am concerned that you are walking on a knife edge – particularly if you don’t allow yourself to travel for work or drink too much. Perhaps the best way to tackle your comment is to take the matters raised one-by-one.
1. Infrequent sex. It is always important to define terms, other wise you get that scene from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall where he’s talking to his therapist and complaining they hardly ever have sex and she’s complaining to her therapist and saying we’re having it all the time. For me ‘infrequent’ sex would be once a month or less. I would also ask you to think about what you mean by ‘sex’ – is it only contact which ends in an orgasm or does it include prolonged kissing, cuddling stroking? (Often I find that couples are under-estimating the amount of sex because they only include intercourse – but if their partner had been kissing and cuddling someone else that they would definitely have called that sex!)
2. Intimacy. It’s something that I see time and time again. Traditionally, it has been men who manage intimacy by separating love and sex. However, woman are just as capable of loving one person (and having children with them) and having sex with someone else – because it is just to difficult (frightening or overwhelming) to put all your intimacy eggs in one basket. I doubt this is done consciously. However, the point to take away is that this is ‘not ALL about you’. It is easy to think, ‘she doesn’t want sex with me so there’s something wrong with me’. But this is probably just as much about her childhood as about you. If you remember this idea, it will keep you calm, you will take comments and behaviour less personally and be better able to talk.
3. More emotional. What does she mean by this? To be honest, I don’t know. It could be something to do with intimacy, fear and needing to hold something back. However, I am just guessing. Unfortunately, you’ve also been guessing and come up with your own conclusions about lack of emotional connection and needing power over you. These are probably just your INTERPRETATIONS and not the truth. It would be worth getting her to explain this again and repeating back what you’ve heard (in case you’ve added fears of your own onto her answer).
So what should you do?
I would have talks about talks. By this I mean, ‘it’s 7 months since we said we needed to have a talk about sex, why do you think it’s been so hard to get round to it?’ I would follow this up with ‘what are your fears about talking?’ ‘How do you think I will react?’ ‘What would help you be ready to talk about sex?’ In this way, you can lay the foundations for when you do talk.
At some point, possibly in this conversation, you need to explain your fears about having an affair yourself. Make certain that you start every sentence with ‘I’ so it is ‘I am frightened that I will do something I regret. Try to avoid ‘you’ all together – otherwise it can become ‘if you don’t want sex then….’ See how easy it is to slip into threats which won’t help a calm conversation and or allow her to hear that how difficult a low sex relationship is for you.
When you do have sex, think about your style. There are two patterns that I see over and over again when couples can’t talk about sex (and give feed back about what they enjoy). In the first, men are so polite and considerate that the women long for them to take charge (allowing them to lay back and let go and have a holiday from organising and managing everything). In the second, men are too quick, rough or go straight for the genitals and don’t give their wives enough time to relax into the experience. So try mixing up your approach and experimenting by taking a couple of notches in a different direction from the past and see what response you get. When you finally do get round to talking, you can ask for specific feedback. ‘Am I right that you prefer it when I …..’
Finally, it’s OK to have a line in the sand but keep it to yourself for the time being. Don’t throw it about like a threat as that just creates anger and conflict. There’s lots more to try before you reach ‘no sex = no marriage’. Look at my posts about bringing the spark back into sex and how to talk about sex too.