Tips To Increase Intimacy In Your Relationship and Fire Up Your Sex Life

Written by Lauren Dummit
Lauren Dummit offers strategies to effectively communicate boundaries, needs, and desires in relationships in order to increase intimacy and fire up your sex life.
Increase Intimacy In Your Relationship

Ava lied there next to Vince, wondering if he had passed out yet.

“Why do men always pass out after sex?

They’re so selfish. Ok, got mine, checking out now!

Uhhh!”

She could feel the resentment burning in her chest.

Just a few more minutes and she could get up to go use her vibrator in the other room.

She hadn’t been in the mood, to begin with, but because she wanted to be a “good wife,” and because she did not want her husband to stray because his sexual needs weren’t being met, she robotically went through the motions, faking an orgasm so that she wouldn’t hurt Vince’s feelings. However, even though she never expected to have an orgasm with Vince, she did still seem to get aroused in the process.

She wondered if something was wrong with her but reminded herself that she had been able to have orgasms during sex with a few previous partners.

One, in particular, Todd, seemed to know exactly what she wanted and where.

If only Vince could read her body like that! However, the thought of communicating what she liked and how she liked to be touched, what she needed to reach climax, brought heat to her face and filled her with shame.

“Oh no, I’d be way too embarrassed!

And, I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings.

He’s so good to me in so many other ways.”

Ava’s experience is not uncommon. In my practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Sex Therapist at Triune Therapy Group in Los Angeles, authentic communication is probably is one of the most fundamental issues with which couples struggle. Effective communication in relationships is vital for a healthy relationship, and yet it can be extremely challenging, evoking a myriad of emotions, such as fear, anger, shame, etc. for a number of reasons. Negotiating our needs and desires in bed can be even more difficult.

However, in order to achieve a satisfying sex life, it is crucial.

Couples who communicate constructively have more fulfilling sex and generally experience more contentment in their relationships.

trust

Trust is the foundation of healthy relationships. Feeling secure with one’s partner can be really beneficial when negotiating uncomfortable topics, such as sex. Being vulnerable is scary.

It involves taking risks, which may evoke feelings of rejection, criticism, judgment, humiliation, or may result in hurting a partner’s feelings, which may then lead to conflict. However, it is only by being vulnerable that we can increase intimacy. Sharing thoughts and feelings are typically what brings us closer together. This applies to sex as well, especially if we are able, to be honest, open, and non-blaming.

Sex is an important ingredient to romantic partnerships, leading to more connection and closeness. It can really bring energy and passion to a relationship, differentiating it from a close friendship.

It affirms that we are still desirable, which adds to our confidence and security.

But, the topic of sex ignites our deepest vulnerabilities.

It’s hard enough to share our innermost thoughts and feelings, and then add being naked to the mix, both physically and metaphorically. We may feel insecure about our bodies, whether or not our performance is good enough or sexy enough, or we may fear that our partner will think our sexual preferences are stupid or even perverted.

Many people received shameful messages about sex growing up. It has not been a socially acceptable topic of discussion, yet it is pervasively portrayed in the media everywhere we look. The more educated we are about sex, the more robust vocabulary we develop, and the more we talk about sex, the easier and more natural it becomes.

couple

In order to have fulfilling sex lives, we not only need to own our sexuality, but we need to celebrate it. Whether or not our partners are into what we like or not is no reflection upon us.

There are many ways to negotiate our needs and wants in relationships. Some of us prefer to have a more serious conversation; some of us prefer to do it more casually or more playfully. It may be more comfortable to use non-verbal communication.

For example, using our hand to guide our partner to where we want to be touched. We can also playfully use our words or talk dirty during sex to communicate our desires.

A few strategies that I often recommend to couples are weekly check-ins, the use of a boundary format to communicate one’s thoughts and feelings, or even creating a “suggestion box,” especially if we are feeling shy.

In today’s culture, it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of life or the business of parenting.

We forget to allocate time to really check in with our partner on an intimate level.

Scheduling weekly check-ins can be a highly effective tool to ensure that we are staying attuned to our partners. To ensure consistency, it is helpful to pick a day and time of the week that works for both partners and then commit to that, scheduling other activities, duties, and commitments around it. This also sends the message to our partners that the relationship is our priority.

During the check in it may be helpful to adhere to a communication boundary format.

One that I often recommend involves first stating the fact, for ex. “I notice that you often wait until bedtime to initiate sex, at which point I am very tired.”

This is followed by stating our perception of the facts, “This makes me think it is just an afterthought to you, that it’s not about me but just about you getting off before bed.”

After sharing the perception, one would share his or her feelings, “I then feel annoyed and resentful if I agree and guilty and not good enough if I decline.”

Lastly, one would share his or her need or preference, “I would prefer if we talked about it beforehand and planned a time that worked for both of us so that I could get excited about it.

spa

If I were to come home, and you had put on some music and lit some candles, I would feel so loved and desired.” This format does not blame or shame. Instead, we take accountability for our perceptions and feelings and then honestly express our preference.

check-ins can be formal or informal. Some couples like to write out a list of questions, covering a range of topics, sex being one of them. Others choose to just organically bring up whatever they feel needs to be addressed in their relationship at the time. There is no right or wrong way to do it.

Just like in the bedroom, each couple can get creative. But, it’s important that each partner commits to being open, loving, compassionate, and refrain from becoming defensive. Mirroring and validation go a long way in allowing our partners to feel heard and understood.

Another idea, the “Suggestion Box,” can also be fun and provide another outlet for creativity, playfulness, and risk taking. One can use a box, a bowl, or any type of container. Each partner writes down their wants, desires, and/or fantasies on a piece of paper fold it and then puts it into the container.

Then each one takes a turn getting to “pull a card” and has the option to either agree or to choose another. In this way, declining one preference may not be a shame to the one who expressed it, and he or she still gets to have another desire fulfilled. This can take some of the pressure off and also add a sense of fun.

All in all, we need to remind ourselves that our partners are ones we love and that we need to treat them the way we would like to be treated, with kindness, gentleness, and respect.

Authentic communication is the foundation of healthy relationships. The only way to build intimacy is to risk being vulnerable. This takes great courage, and so we need to nurture honesty and compassion.

It is important to consistently express our appreciation and let our partners know what they are doing right. Positive reinforcement is always more effective and just more loving than criticism.

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Contributor : Lauren Dummit ()

This Article Has Been Published on October 23, 2018 and Last Modified on October 23, 2018

Lauren Dummit is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and the Clinical Director of Triune Therapy Group in Los Angeles. She is also the Co-host a weekly radio show on Talk Radio 790 KABC dedicated to the dissemination of topical information associated with sex, relationships, addiction, mental health, and related social issues. You can connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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