We’ve done it, everyone. We’ve survived the holidays. That span of late October through late December likely buried you in a whirlwind of planning, shopping, cooking, coordinating, and performing all sorts of emotional labor to make everyone in your life happy. And if your sex life fell by the wayside during that time? Well, we can’t blame you. When times are tough, I’d take my weighted blanket over my lawfully-wedded husband any day (just me?).
Still, as we enter resolution season, even I have to acknowledge that my relationship is due for some reconnection and repair. So, I’d like to propose that we all resolve to recommit to our intimate relationships in the new year and get back to the bedroom.
Cultivate nonsexual intimacy. It can be difficult to jump right back into bedroom play if you and your partner have been feeling distant in other ways, too. I know that I, personally, don’t feel a ton of sexual desire if I also feel completely disconnected from my husband. So, don’t skip this step. Rebuild that sense of emotional intimacy by making time for each other, having deep conversations that don’t revolve around how to properly load the dishwasher, and sharing positive experiences with each other. Ease back into physical intimacy by swapping just-because hugs and kisses during the day or cuddling up at night. Repair that connection you may have lost during the chaos of the holiday and, soon enough, you may not need extra nudging to take things to the next level.
Realize that “foreplay” is actually coreplay. At this point, I’ve probably mentioned in at least 99% of my posts for this blog that we need to expand our definition of what sex is. What I mean is that PIV (penis-in-vagina) penetrative intercourse that inevitably leads to orgasm is not the only—or the most valid (not even close)—form of sex. And thinking that it is… limiting. You may have seen calls to nix the word “foreplay” and think of it instead as “coreplay.” Basically, this is a call to recognize that all of those non-PIV acts, like oral sex, sweet caresses, kissing, and even dry humping, are essential parts of sex play. In fact, they still count as sex all on their own. Approaching sex in this way centers you and your partner’s pleasure. And good sex is sex that is mutually pleasurable. Period.
So, if you haven’t felt up to sexy times because you haven’t felt up to that incredibly limiting definition of sex… know that it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be whatever makes both of you feel good.
Communicate. Holiday season aside, I want to share a story about another stressful time—the pandemic—and about how a lack of communication can lead to false assumptions about your sex life. My sex drive has never been enormous and, during the time when I was managing my young daughter’s remote learning, it was even less so. Faced with so much need and obligation and desperate for alone time, the last thing I wanted was to be touched. But this aversion toward intimacy on my part left me feeling guilty that my husband’s needs weren’t being met. I assumed he was unhappy with the state of things.
When we finally sat down to talk, it turned out that he hadn’t been feeling all that much desire either. The pandemic had left him depressed. But I had been so deep in my own feelings, I hadn’t even noticed.
Our partners can’t read our minds. Maybe, like me, you’re grappling with feelings of guilt around desire discrepancy. Maybe you’re experiencing discomfort during intercourse. Or maybe you just want to try something new in the bedroom. Whatever it is, you need to say something.
Only by communicating can you move toward sex that leaves the both of you feeling satisfied.
Mix it up. It is my firm belief that the steps above do all the heavy lifting when it comes to reviving a lackluster sex life. You don’t need to try anything wild and new. Novelty can’t fix everything in your relationship if you haven’t addressed the root of the problem.
Know that your sex life is normal. We have a tendency to assume that everyone is having way more sex than us. We compare ourselves to others and find ourselves lacking. I want you to know that our perceptions of others’ sex lives are wildly inaccurate. Sure, there are folks who enjoy a tumble in the sheets at least once a week, or maybe even every day. But there are also other folks who don’t have sex for months… or longer. Every one of these experiences is normal.
What’s most important is not the frequency of the sex you’re having. It’s the quality. As long as the amount of sex you’re having is not causing you or your partner distress—and as long as the sex you are having is mutually pleasurable—you’re doing it right.
I don’t want this post to give you any feelings of inadequacy or anxiety over the sex you are or aren’t having. If you and your partner are on the same page, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
But, if you’ve emerged from the holidays wondering why and how so much time has passed since your last intimate encounter, I hope this helps.