Enhancing Intimacy


Ideas For Both of You

  One of the most common complaints from married men is that they don’t get enough sex. Many of them feel cheated because they recall their wives being extremely sexual while they were dating. 

  Wives also feel cheated. They too can remember the courtship days when everything their husbands said and did turned them on. Many women believe that it’s their husband’s fault they don’t feel like having sex anymore. Others think that since they are so rarely “in the mood” they must be one of the reported 70% of women with a sexual dysfunction. Whatever the reason, women wonder, “Can I help it if I don’t feel like having sex?”

  The lack of intimacy in their marriage bothers women and men alike. Sex is a fundamental physiological need in humans, ranked right up there with food and breathing according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which places it in front of self esteem, love, and even security in order of necessity. We literally need to have sex in order to continue to exist.

  There are myriads of things that contribute to the lack of intimacy in a relationship, and we will discuss some of them below, but from my research I have come to believe that those things might be secondary issues in this matter of women’s lack of desire (although they are certainly worth looking at in any genuine effort to improve a relationship and enhance sexual intimacy). The primary factor though, is the issue of “lack of desire” to begin with. The problem often begins with the way each person in the relationship understands the situation.

  Think about it. If the most common sexual dysfunction in women is lack of desire (studies show that it is), and the number of women reported to have this type of dysfunction is somewhere around 70% (some researchers say more), should we even be considering it a dysfunction? Wouldn’t it, in fact, be the norm?

  Somewhere along the line women’s libidos got confused with men’s, and by comparison they appear not to be working properly. Yet from a scientific standpoint we know that women’s libidos were designed to operate differently than men’s. The main difference is that the women’s libido requires a bit of persuasion in order to become activated. It doesn’t respond as quickly as a man’s. When couples don’t understand this, it can seem like something’s wrong. There are a few instances when a woman’s libido will go into overdrive and it is easily stimulated like a man’s, but it requires special circumstances to achieve this.

  One of the things that arouses a woman’s libido in this way is the overwhelming rush of emotions that she feels while falling in love. This is why she was so much more eager for sex during the dating stage. Shortly after this stage however, her libido returns to its normal, more passive state. Often this happens after marriage, when the banality of every day life sets in. Suddenly she’s not in the mood so often. Her husband feels betrayed. She feels let down, wondering if perhaps he wasn’t the right man for her after all. She might think her love for him is waning and, believing she can’t help the way she feels, she will simply allow the intimacy to dwindle away to nothing. Women who feel this way can find themselves in a vulnerable position. If a man outside of her marriage captures her attention and the “falling in love” sensation hits her again, her libido will be kicked into action and this will appear to confirm that the problem was her husband all along. It won’t be until the initial lust stage passes with the new guy that she will find her interest in sex waning yet again.

  The good news is that there are actually many other things besides falling in love that can stimulate a woman’s libido. Sadly, no one will bother to make the attempt if they keep thinking it isn’t working properly to begin with, or if they expect it to kick in automatically when the “right” man comes along. It will take a little bit of effort. A woman’s libido has to be encouraged, awakened, activated, cajoled…however you want to put it–it needs a little jump to get it started.

  If you and your spouse understand and accept this fundamental truth about women’s libidos and how they differ from men’s, you’ll immediately improve your situation, because you will affirm her reality and remove the pressure. He is not an ogre and she is not frigid. Things are exactly as they should be. With this assurance the two of you can now embark on an exciting adventure together where you explore the many different ways in which you might rouse her libido. For some women it’s as simple as soaking in a hot tub of water before going to bed, while others prefer to read erotica alone, or with their partner. There are so many different things you both can do to help her relax and get in the mood for sex—too many for me to list them all here. The main thing is that you both try to discover what those things are, and you keep trying until you find out what works. In the meantime, I have five sure fire tips for making the most of your efforts. And yes, it is well worth the effort for both of you, and it should be considered a normal and necessary part of your life together. Each tip has a his and hers approach to it, so you can work together. Things probably won’t get better unless you work together.

(NOTE: This discussion applies to women who suffer with standard “lack of desire” issues, not women with medical problems that bring about other forms of sexual dysfunction.)

  Tip #1 for HIM: Don’t be greedy.
Have you ever seen a dog that’s been trapped alone in the house all day in those first few moments when it first gets let out? He nearly jerks his owner’s arm out of the socket in an effort to see and sniff everything in every direction, and all at the same time. If the dog can’t be trained to calm down its owner might come to dread taking it outside (even though he realizes the dog needs to go outside).

Your eagerness is perfectly justified. You’re finally going to get some sex, so naturally you want to cram as many options into the event as you can. You want to milk it for everything its worth. I’m not saying you’re wrong to feel like that. All I’m saying is this: think of the next time. Remember, unlike you, she has to make a decision to expend effort in order to rouse her libido. If it ends up being an all night trip around the world you’ve just given her a reason to pass next time. On the other hand, don’t rush things either. Be aware of her needs and try to time it so that you satisfy her without wearing out your welcome. Talk to her about it. Ask her how long she wants it to last. If the experience is a good one, it will be worth her while to expend the effort again and again.

  Tip #1 for HER: Don’t be lazy.
The best things in life usually take a bit of effort. Sex is one of those things for women. It’s definitely not fair, but that’s just the way it is. Yet in spite of this minor inconvenience, most women report that they enjoy sex once they are engaged in the activity. Even women who have difficulty achieving orgasm say they enjoy the closeness and intimacy that comes with sex (if you’re one of these women, this is another thing that you and your partner can work toward improving on). 

Sex provides a delightful opportunity to express affection, to get closer to your partner and to release tension. For most women in long term relationships, the “mood” for sex does not just happen very often. For some, the mood rarely comes at all. However, this does not mean that you can’t get aroused. It simply means you’re not already aroused. You have to get there. You need to figure out what things turn you on and you have to take the time and effort to do those things. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your partner. It’s not really fair to expect him to live without intimacy, when a little extra effort is all it will take to make it happen.

  Tip # 2 for HIM: Sexy equals sex.
Most men don’t know this, but in order to truly enjoy sex, women need to feel sexy. Again, this differs from men, who generally can have a pretty good time simply seeing, hearing or thinking about something sexy. The problem is that most women feel insecure, fat, tired…and so on. You’ve heard all about it, I’m sure. And it might not even have anything to do with you. Women are constantly barraged with images and messages in the media that tell them they are not good enough. You couldn’t possibly counteract the effects of this all by yourself. It’s something that all of us have to stop supporting. As long as we keep buying products from industries that exploit and undermine women (women’s beauty magazines are even more damaging than the magazines you hide under the mattress, so I’m addressing everyone here) we will continue to damage women’s self worth, which will in turn make it harder for them to enjoy their bodies and the sexual experience overall.

In the meantime, there are little things you can do to help your wife feel more sexy. For one thing, you could act like you think she’s sexy. You’ve probably heard that you should compliment her, but my advice is to take this a bit further in order to make it more believable. Actions speak louder than words. A compliment, especially when it’s administered right around the time you want something from her, is actually quite insulting. That look she’s giving you translates to; “So you think I’m stupid as well as unattractive?” Do you really think she doesn’t know why you suddenly thought to compliment her?

Yet even a well-timed compliment is still only a bunch of words. A guy might say, “You’re beautiful,” after spending the evening ignoring his wife. This compliment is ineffective.

I enjoy watching couples at parties. How many men would you guess make an effort to make their wives feel special at a party? The answer is very few. Next time you’re at a gathering observe the married couples. The wives generally spend the evening watching their husbands watch (and sometimes blatantly flirt with) other women. What do you suppose would happen if your wife looked around for you somewhere and found you watching her? What if you took it a step further and smiled, flirted, or winked when your eyes met? Do you have any idea the impact that would likely have on her—provided she doesn’t suffer a head injury when she passes out on the floor from shock? Believe me, a move like that leaves the verbal compliment in the dust. And the point is, if you really want her, show her.  Many men, through some misguided instinct that makes them think they are needed to populate the earth, find themselves more fascinated with the women they haven’t been intimate with than those they have.  This is very bad for your wife’s ego, and even worse for your sex life. 

  Tip # 2 for HER: Sexy equals happy.
One of the things that works wonders for getting a woman in the mood is feeling sexy. Many women believe that if they don’t feel sexy it is the fault of the guy they’re with. That’s only partly true, and believe it or not, it’s the smaller part. The biggest part of low self esteem often come from other causes. There are too many to list here, but there are a few that I want to mention because they’re fixable. And putting the matter of sex aside for a moment, low self esteem can affect every aspect of a person’s life, actually causing more low self esteem through poor decision making, difficulty expressing affection and depression. Why not start now to change it?

Some women don’t feel good about themselves because, frankly, they’ve stopped trying. It takes effort to be the person you want to be. If there is something that you really can’t accept about yourself, you really ought to work on it. Everything can be improved upon. Perhaps you feel that it is hopeless because the standards in our culture are impossible to meet. This actually leads me to the next issue, which I believe is one of the biggest issues women face: the media in our culture is brutally abusive to women. The women who give up might actually have a higher self esteem than those who are constantly trying to live up to the standard! It’s time for all of us to take stock in reality. The simple fact is that the industries who sell products to women have decided they will sell more products if they make us feel like we are not good enough. Look at the most popular “women’s” magazines. They feature myriads of articles with “secrets” for improving your sex life, articles which often focus on the most outlandish ideas for making the experience more exciting for the guy in an effort to hold on to him. The idea is to make you think they’ve cornered the market on sex–and everything else. Without them, where would you be? You have to better, younger, thinner, sexier, more attentive and so forth, and they have the products and advice that can help you make that happen. I have to wonder how well their products really work…I’ve read that it sometimes takes up to six hours to prepare a model for a shoot. These models, mind you, dedicate their entire existence to their appearance. Everything they eat and do is designed to make them more beautiful. Many of them succomb to plastic surgery. Yet after all this, somehow, the three hundred or so photos taken for that one perfect picture didn’t produce a single print that is good enough for their magazine without a touch up!  I find this is startling. What surprises me even more is that women buy these magazines, and their products! As soon as enough of us stop buying them, they will change. Men have magazines that entertain them without destroying their self image. We deserve the same. Based on my research, I really, sincerely and strongly feel that the media is directly related to the overwhelming low self esteem in women. Therefore my advice to you is to protect yourself from the negative influences that cause you to feel like you’re not good enough. 

  Tip # 3 FOR HIM: Elementary, Watson.
Perhaps one of your wife’s reasons for not wanting sex is that she is tired at night. Why not offer to put the kids to bed for her while she “gets in the mood?” Maybe she enjoys reading romance or erotica to relax. Why not surprise her with books from her favorite authors? Better yet, why not read her a bedtime story yourself? Get to know your wife and what she likes, and this will make it easier. For example, many women dislike certain forms of erotic material because it falls under the type of material I mentioned in tip # 2, which undermines her self esteem (if she doesn’t like erotica, this might be why). Go to the trouble to find out what she does like. Think of it like this: you could offer to expend as much effort to help her get in the mood as she has to expend herself. And you might even discover some new ways to enhance the experience for yourself in the process.

  Tip # 3 FOR HER: It’s out there
There’s been this rumor floating around for several centuries now that I want to clear up: you’re true love will not be able to ‘knock your socks off,’ ‘read your mind,’ or anything else along those lines unless you tell him how to do it ahead of time. Actually, in addition to telling him how, you might want to draw him a map ( be sure to include pictures). ‘He should know,’ is outdated and just plain silly. We’ve come too far in scientific advances to revert back to that kind of thinking. Ask him for what you want. I promise he will at least try to do it. Men are so delightfully wonderful that way. They’ll do almost anything if they think someone will be impressed. This is especially true of sex.

This means you’ll have to figure out what it is that gets you in the mood for sex. This seems unromantic to some women, but it’s actually quite empowering if you think about it. There are so many choices nowadays, why not have exactly what you want? There is a wide variety of choices in reading and other sexual materials, more than ever sympathetic to the importance of enhancing a woman’s self esteem.  More and more authors are creating heroines that are more like you and me in their romance and erotica. In my books, I like to focus on the sexual behaviors and fantasies – allowing the reader to put herself in the starring role. Many authors are doing the same. Others are creating characters that are specific to the reader, so there’s erotic romance for more mature couples, for “big beautiful women,” for African Americans, for Christians…you name it. And now we have “toys” to enhance the experience! There are so many little do-dads to help you get in the mood, achieve orgasm, or even just enhance the experience. 

  Tip # 4 for HIM: Reward her.
For most women, the desired payoff for sex is the feeling of being cherished and loved. Many women regard this as even more important than an orgasm. If you got the sex and she doesn’t feel loved, she might feel ripped off. How many times would you keep making the effort to please someone who regularly disappointed you? This goes for outside the bedroom as well as in. If you want her to feel special you have to treat her like she’s special. When it comes to your wife and other women, the general rule of thumb for making her feel special is this: treat her better than you treat other women. Sounds too simple? You would be surprised how many men treat other women with more courtesy than their wives – right in front of their wives. Even worse, I have seen instances where a man will push his own wife aside to help a strange woman he has never met. This sends a clear message to your wife that she’s not only not special…but that her feelings don’t even matter at all. It will be extremely difficult for her to enjoy having sex with you.

  Tip # 4 for HER: Reward him.
Many women feel that their husbands should always treat them special and make them feel sexy, cherished and loved. They’re right. But, sadly, most men won’t achieve this…at least not for many years, if ever. This is because men show love differently than women do. One of the best books I’ve read on this subject is called “The Five Love Languages.” It is a wonderful read that you and your husband could enjoy together. The basic concept of the book is that everyone has a love language, that is to say, a way they show and want to be shown love. Sadly, a person could be showing someone love and he or she might not even realize it if it isn’t their love language (ie…”I provide for you, don’t I?”). Reading the book together can help you identify each other’s love language and become more aware of how to show them the kind of love they most want. In the meantime, when he does get it right, it is extremely worthwhile to let him know…and don’t hold back. Men love to please the women they love, they just don’t always know how to do it. Tell him through words and actions. Show appreciation when he gets it right.

  Tip # 5 for HIM: Put your best foot forward.
I once read that a dead giveaway that a married man is having an affair is when he starts wearing cologne. I was surprised to learn that men didn’t wear cologne for their wives. If the mistress is worth sprucing up for, why not the wife? Or more to the point, why should a wife expend the energy to get in the mood if you can’t even smell good for her? Clean up, wear cologne, brush your teeth. This is another area where men and women differ. Men who are aroused can usually get around the grooming issue, but it’s not so easy for a woman. Unpleasant odors can distract her from enjoying the experience. You already know (or you should) that she has to work harder for her orgasm than you do, and that she needs to be able to stay focused on the erotic aspects of the event. Especially if you enjoy oral sex…why not make the idea a little more appealing by showering first? Many men prefer to shower in the morning in order to be fresh for the people he will encounter throughout that day. But will you ever get as up close and intimate with any of the people you work with as you hope to be with your wife in the bedroom? This might seem like the obvious…so why do I hear this complaint so often from women???

  Tip # 5 for HER: Dress the part.
There are two reasons why I think it’s a really good idea for women to “dress” for bed. And by dress, I don’t mean anything too tedious or difficult. No make up or curling irons are necessary (men hate that stuff anyway). I mean cleaning up a bit and putting on something sexy. The first reason for this is because I think dressing up for sex is one of the things that can help put women in the mood. A nice hot bath or shower, a little after bath splash, skin softener…all these things arouse the senses. The other reason is that putting on a sexy outfit can make you feel sexy. Seeing yourself in a sexy outfit causes you see yourself as a sexy woman. Seeing his face when he sees you in a sexy outfit makes you feel sexy.

Having sex should be fun and bring the two of you closer together. All of the above tips go both ways, and should be standard treatment from husbands to their wives as well as wives to their husbands. These simple courtesies should not be considered a cumbersome and difficult price in order to get what you want. To learn about each other’s needs, to please each other, to put each other a bit above everyone else—these things should be considered the lowest standard of simple consideration between two people who are intimate with each other.

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Author Nancy Madore