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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sex on the brain

Whether you know it or not, there is a tug of war going on in your brain. This tug of war is basically between two polar desires: security and excitement. The war affects more than sex, but it seems to play out most emphatically and uncomfortably in that arena.

It’s fascinating to me how our brain chemistry causes us to both crave and fear excitement. Research has shown that in a relationship our brain chemistry shifts over time, from the early, enthralled, head-over-heels stage (dominated by the presence of dopamine and nonrepinephrine) toward a more mellow, bonded and contented satisfied stage (increased oxytocin).

The excitement of new sexual experiences causes us to feel similar sensations to when we were in that head-over-heels, giddy-in-love stage of our relationships, aka the honeymoon phase.  At the same time, over the same new experiences, we can also encounter fear and feel compelled to seek “safer ground.” Our desire for the security and safety of the familiar fights against our desire for the thrill of the new and different.

Depending on your personalities, one or the other of these may have a stronger influence on you than on your spouse.  Typically men have a stronger need for adventure than women, and women typically have a stronger need to feel safe and secure. Of course this is certainly not always the case. In any event, a difference in desire for the “new and different” vs. “safe and secure” can create tension that needs to be recognized and addressed.

Marital intimacy, the idea of being completely known and completely loved, drives wonderful feelings of contentment and closeness, but at the same time it can also tend to push out the sense of mystery and excitement.  The fear of damaging intimacy and risking rejection by exposing our sexual desires can tend to drive us to shut ourselves off from the sex we really want. 

Can you have intensity and excitement without variety? Yes. Does variety guarantee intensity and excitement? No. I don’t believe in variety for variety’s sake, but I do believe there is a definite brain-chemistry benefit to at least occasionally stirring things up a little. If either spouse is feeling a little stuck in your routine, something should be done to address it before it leads to sexual boredom. (By the way, this applies outside the bedroom as well!) There is something to be said for keeping things fresh.



Day 9 for Wives
Shake Things Up




Think about where you personally land on the security vs. excitement spectrum when it comes to your sex life. How does this compare it to where you think your husband is?  If there a gap between you in this arena, have you talked about how to resolve it?

Think back over the last 30 days of lovemaking and consider the following
  • Did either you or your husband bring anything new or different to the bedroom (or wherever)? Who brought it up, and how did the other respond?
  • Are you satisfied with the current level of intensity and passion in your sexual encounters or are you in a rut with your routine?
  • Do you wish you had sex more frequently or in different places or in different positions? Have you told your husband of your wishes?
  • If you were interested in finding ideas to grow your sexual repertoire, do you have a “clean,” non-pornographic resource you could use for inspiration?



Your challenge today is to do something different from your normal sexual routine.

There are many ways to break from the normal routine. I understand that change involves risk and vulnerability, especially if when you were rebuffed when you brought new ideas in the past. However, deepening intimacy often involves risk.

Even if you are not the adventuresome type, there are plenty of options for you to choose that won't necessarily stretch you too far. Here are a few ideas:
  • Timing – if you normally make love at night, try it in the morning, or have a little afternoon delight if you can arrange for the kids to be occupied elsewhere.
  • Attire – wear something more revealing than what you normally wear to bed or wear nothing at all. Your husband is a visual creature and will appreciate such a gesture regardless of how comfortable you are with your body.
  • Location – try a different piece of furniture in your bedroom besides your bed (a chair provides some interesting options). Use the guest room. The shower or tub can be fun (at least to start out, because water doesn’t make the best lubricant).
  • Positions – the human form allows for an amazing number of possibilities when it comes the coupling of two bodies. It can be fun to experiment to find new pleasurable positions. Here are two options for some more sex position ideas from two other Christian marriage bloggers:
1.    J, from Hot, Holy and Humorous, recently did a post about sex positions using stick figure images.
2.    Paul Byerly, The Generous Husband, recently did a post on sexual positions using only descriptions.



Dare to ask: 


"If you could ask for one thing to add to our sexual repertoire, what would it be?"







Day 9 for Husbands
  Stir things up


 
Think about where you personally land on the security vs. excitement spectrum when it comes to your sex life. How does this compare it to where you think your wife is?  If there a gap between you in this arena, have you talked about how to resolve it?

Think back over the last 30 days of lovemaking and consider the following
  • Did either you or your wife bring anything new or different to the bedroom (or wherever)? Who brought it up, and how did the other respond?
  • Are you satisfied with the current level of intensity and passion in your sexual encounters or are you in a rut with your routine?
  • Do you wish you had sex more frequently or in different places or in different positions? How have you let your wife know of your wishes?
  • If you were interested in finding ideas to grow your sexual repertoire, do you have a “clean,” non-pornographic resource you could use for inspiration?


Your challenge today is to do something different from your normal sexual routine.


If I were to ask you what constitutes “good sex” chances are you would start listing specific kinds of activities. If I asked your wife the same question, she would talk about the atmosphere surrounding it, the emotions it stirred and how she felt she was treated during. It would have much less to do with what you actually did than how she felt about it. Women are just typically wired that way.

So in challenging you to do something different, I am asking you to try not to think like a man, but instead try to think about what changes might be meaningful to your wife. Make the new ideas all about her.

Here are a few of my ideas:
  • Ambiance – If you haven’t typically done so, try creating an atmosphere that is relaxing using soft music, scented candles, and tons of pillows. Sometimes placing this setting in a different room brings a fresh sense of romance.
  • Timing – If you normally drop into bed exhausted and typically settle for a quickie, make an appointment with her for an early bedtime. Use the extra time for foreplay.
  • Preparation – It takes women much longer to shift gears from mommy/ homemaker mode to lover.  Offer to put the kids to bed or do the dishes for her while she takes a long hot bath.
  • Attention – Let her know she is to be the center of attention tonight. Touch her and kiss her in new ways, take your time, let her have the first orgasm.
  • Other – As I said above, your wife is probably more affected by the emotional connection during sex than she is by the actual activities. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the opportunity to try out new locations for sex, try out different positions, or buy her something pretty to wear to bed. In all these attempts at variety, however, focus more on how it makes her feel than on what you do.
When bringing ideas into the bedroom, be aware of the likelihood that she will be reticent to try something new unless you go out of your way to make her comfortable with the idea.  Don’t push her. Also, don’t judge her and withdraw emotionally if she doesn’t go along right away. Always keep the conversation going.




Dare to ask:

"If you could ask for one thing to add to our sexual repertoire, what would it be?"






1 comments:

T B said...

I'm really liking this series. There's nothing that kills a husband's libido faster than being rejected for wanting something different / new in bed. Makes us clam up and live in quiet desperation. Thank you for speaking up.

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