(Physical) Intimacy 101: Let’s Talk about Sex, Baby

In a private Facebook group, I recently read 368 comments reacting to a woman who posted,

“I could care less if I never have sex again.”

368 comments. Clearly this gal touched upon a hot topic, (don’t) pardon the pun. Curious, I tracked the number of women agreeing and disagreeing with her. Seventy women said they would indeed miss sex. Ninety-nine basically said, “Meh, I’m done.” The other 199 comments were details, helpful hints, and arguments.

In reading that thread, I think I figured out the reason a whole lot of those ladies are in the “meh” category. More on that later.

This whole “do you or don’t you want it” conversation is why I’m here today. For a while now I’ve considered writing on this topic. But honestly, I was scared. Because it’s so personal.

But 368 women dialoguing fiercely pro and con physical intimacy? To me this number means this topic is super important. So even though I’m nervous, I’m going to approach this article like I approach others: with my own experience, research, and a certain level of no-nonsense-ness.

Quality time…And words

Joel B. Bennet, author of the book Time and Intimacy: A New Science of Personal Relationships, says, “Intimacy is a process of discovery with another (person).”

In my opinion, emotional intimacy happens when two people spend time together communicating: verbally or in writing. The two of you could be on a date. Or talking on the phone. Texting works, too.

Spending time with another person, getting to know each other better, will always draw you closer to them. After 30+ years with my husband, Tony, I’m still learning more about him. Like, he loves cucumbers and peaches. How did I not figure that out sooner?

It probably goes without saying that emotional intimacy often leads to physical intimacy.

Consequently, if things have cooled off somewhat with you and your spouse or partner, emotionally and\or physically, definitely brainstorm some ways to reconnect with them.

Location, Location, Location

I’m no sex-pert, but I’m guessing the majority of your physical intimacy happens in the bedroom.

As such, make this space attractive: think, relaxing and beautiful. Excellent mattress. Super soft sheets. No files from work, no piles of dirty laundry, no kicked-off shoes lying about. Make this space pretty, please.

Romance … Just do it.

I remember a sermon I heard over a decade ago. On the topic of marriage. The pastor shared the story of a husband sprinkling hundreds of rose petals to form a trail from the front door, to the bedroom, to the bed. How’s that for romance?

To me, an act of romance is something that doesn’t happen every day. It’s a special gesture that says, “I want you,” and I’m willing to do something out of the ordinary to prove it.

What does your spouse or partner consider romantic? Do that!

Rub them the right way.

Have you ever watched someone getting a shoulder massage? Usually their eyes roll back into their head and they softly moan. Which is why massage is a great gift to give your partner.

Pick a body part, any body part — shoulders, hands, feet, back — and rub, manipulate, knead it with care (and maybe a nicely scented lotion). Do this and you may very well find yourself in a physically intimate situation.

The “On” Switch

Hopefully throughout your relationship you and your spouse or partner have been practicing honesty. But have you been honest about sex? Have you taken the time to discuss what turns each of you on?

You can do this in a verbal conversation or in writing. Or, you can simply pay attention in every day life. I remember being at a party and overhearing a guy say, “I love those short, fold-over socks some women wear. If I see those, I go crazy!” If I was that guy’s wife, I’d be purchasing lots of cute socks pronto.

Some women are into beards, goatees, or scruffy faces. Or guys who read books. There’s actually an Instagram feed titled, “Hot Dudes Reading.”

If your husband or wife says, “Those jeans make your butt look fantastic!” or, “What cologne is that? It smells soooo good!” pay atttention, Romeo. Or Juliet.

What’s that smell?

Speaking of cologne, your sense of smell is the most evocative sense you have. Because fragrances stir up memories. Think baking bread, Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion, a crackling fire.

In a romantic relationship, smell can attract or repel a lover. This is why it’s really important to know what fragrance your partner loves on you. Conversely, if they detest a certain perfume or cologne, don’t ever wear it around them.

Mr. Clean. Or not.

Speaking of odors, personal hygiene plays a big part in desire. Some people prefer squeaky clean, unscented bodies. Others are actually drawn to a strong personal fragrance. It is reported that Napoleon wrote to his Josephine requesting that she not bathe until he returned from war.

Don’t stop there.

Consider all areas of hygiene, not simply skin. Hair (on your head, on your body), fingernails, teeth. If you’re unsure of a new partner’s preferences, go with clean. It seems to be the go-to choice for most Americans.

I mentioned teeth up above because I am a stickler for excellent dental hygiene. I honestly think smelling is one of my superpowers. Chances are, if I get a whiff of your breath, I’ll be able to tell if you floss your teeth on a daily basis, or not. Halitosis — aka, bad breath — is a total deal-breaker for me.

The “Off” Switch

Speaking of deal-breakers, they don’t all have to do with physical characteristics. Sometimes they are memory-related. Something that happened years ago on a date gone bad. Or during sexual trauma.

I know a woman who cannot stand the smell of beer breath due to a sexual abuse situation. Some people may want all the lights off during intimacy. Or lights on. You definitely want to know these things about your partner so you don’t trigger a flashback.

Timing is everything.

On that thread of 368 comments, one of the things that kept popping up was frequency of sex. There was a wide range of physical intimacy schedules. A few gals reported having sex four to five times a week. Other women said sex happened once or twice a month. More than one said it had been two years.

Several comments mentioned a sex schedule of sorts being agreed to, spoken or not, by both parties. This is the best case scenario, the Goldilocks scenario. Not too much. Not too little. Just right.

Years ago, a guy asked Tony if having sex with your wife only once a year was normal. No, it is not. Unless it is. If that number satisfies both parties then that number is perfect.

Invite Andy Stanley (as in, the pastor of a mega church) into your boudoir.

Just kidding. Sort of.

Years ago in this blog post, I wrote: “Whether they know it or not, every bride and groom carries a milk crate of expectations down the aisle at their wedding.” This idea was lifted from Stanley’s excellent Bible study, IMarriage.

Stanley said one of the expectations in a groom’s milk crate may be what his wife wears to bed. Imagine his disappointment if she wears high-necked, floor-length flannel nightgowns 365 nights/year instead of an occasional (or frequent) silky, slinky negligee. Not that Andy said silky, slinky anything.

All to say, when you are purchasing sleepwear, consider your partner’s taste. Better yet, ask them.

Think about it.

For the next day or so, do not think about sex. At all. I mean it.

Did it work? Currently I’m listening to the audiobook, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, MD, and he says this “prescription” is one of his tricks when couples counsel with him due to physical intimacy issues. It’s reverse psychology. When you’re told not to think about something (and not to do it), that is often all you can think about or try to do.

On the comment thread, one woman recommended romance novels for a healthy libido. Reading steamy stories helps her look forward to physical intimacy.

Recently my Facebook feed included information about a website on female sexuality. I skimmed through the content and for the next few hours, guess what I thought about?

Save some for me.

After I read all 368 of the comments weighing in on yay-sex-nay-sex, I recognized a theme.

Fatigue. A significant number of the women who said, “I never want sex again,” mentioned things like exhaustion, fatigue, and stress as factors. Many were working mothers in the throes of parenting young children. After a day of getting children ready for school, working eight hours, making supper, taking kids to music lessons or games, helping them with homework, then getting them down for the night, many moms wanted nothing more than to slip into their jammies and crash until the next day.

Maybe, just maybe, the pandemic we now find ourselves in has brought the hamster wheel of family busyness to some sort of beneficial screeching stop. In the past few months, I’ve heard many a mom say how grateful they are that the extracurricular run-around has stopped for now.

Perhaps that’s why people are saying we’re going to have a pandemic population explosion. Because couples are spending more time together in the bedroom instead of in the boardroom or at the ball field.

What might you eliminate from your life so that you have more energy for your spouse?

For more “lessons from a life half lived,” click here.

Howdy-hey from Almost Heaven, West Virginia! Here in my 110-year-old Sears kit-house, I drink coffee, write many words, snuggle soft mammals, repeat.

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