A little over a year ago, I had reached a point in my marriage where I did not want my partner to touch me or even look at me. I was so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a mom, starting a new career, and coping with near-constant family emergencies. The last thing I wanted to do in my limited free time was to throw myself into intimacy where I knew sex would feel like a chore. Not because I didn’t love my partner, but because feeling sexy or getting in the mindset where I could even enjoy intimacy was too daunting a task.
After being in a relationship with my husband for over a decade, things quickly went from being hot and steamy to more of a rare hot flash—especially after having a few kids. It’s often natural for couples to experience highs and lows in their sex lives, particularly during times of stress, illness, or conflict. But even so, I was racked with guilt, which, as you can imagine, did not help increase libido but made it more difficult.
Women are often (unfairly) blamed for sexless marriages, and I was afraid I was going to be one of “those” wives who didn’t prioritize a healthy sex life with their spouse. Even my supportive and very loving husband couldn’t reassure me. Societal expectations and the way women are often taught to view sex as taboo bothered me. I knew something needed to change, but I just didn’t know what. At a certain point, I realized I was viewing sex as a tedious task for my partner’s benefit when it should have been for both of us to enjoy. It was not simply an act of sexual pleasure but one of intimacy and love that made me feel sexy, proud, and happy to be a woman.
I realized I was viewing sex as a tedious task for my partner’s benefit when it should have been for both of us to enjoy.
After this realization, I decided that for at least a year, I would say yes to sex at least four times a week. Here’s what I learned along the way.
1. Some days, it’s just not going to happen
While I started this journey optimistically, the reality was that I was not going to just wake up one day and have the libido of a horny teenager. It’s OK to not be in the mood to make love, and it’s perfectly natural not to want it all the time. Once I accepted that, I immediately felt less pressure and stress over something that’s supposed to be very enjoyable.
Sex can happen with a few decisive moves. But good sex? Well, it takes work. And I wasn’t trying to have more sex for a year just for my partner’s benefit. I wanted this to be an experiment where my husband and I could have open conversations, explore our fantasies (and boundaries), and find new things that we both liked.
2. I needed to masturbate more
Good sex starts with mental foreplay and—especially for a lot of women—relies on having a lot of mental stimulation. While some men can think of something erotic or catch a great view of their partner’s breasts and be ready in seconds, some women will need to work to get there.
After reading up a little on women’s and men’s arousal, I realized that while I thought I understood what I liked in bed, I didn’t. Most of my early exploration had been when I was younger, childless, and single. And now that I was older, had multiple children, and was in a long-term monogamous relationship, I didn’t know what still aroused me. Through experimenting with myself—from the type of erotic stories I enjoyed to the toys I used—I realized I was very unfamiliar with how my body responded.
Most of my early exploration had been when I was younger, childless, and single … now that I was older, had multiple children, and was in a long-term monogamous relationship, I didn’t know what still aroused me.
And that’s OK! Becoming a mom and a wife has brought so many wonderful changes, but I just needed to take the time to explore my body and find out what I enjoyed by myself so I could enjoy intimacy with my partner more frequently.
3. Intimacy doesn’t always have to mean intercourse
I’m not going to lie. There were some nights when I said yes to sex simply because I made a goal and wanted to reach it. After all, I had heard (somewhere on the internet) that simply engaging in sexual acts more often would naturally train my body to want it more (sex begets sex). For me, it did help.
Now, to be clear, I’m not advocating for anyone to force themselves to have sex. Consent is essential. But I do suggest giving intimacy a try for a few minutes before telling your partner you’re not in the mood. Simply kissing or massaging a partner can create wonderful moments together that lead to mind-blowing intercourse or simply a romantic moment that you both get to enjoy with each other—even if it’s just through a kiss or two.
The reality was that even though I promised myself I would have sex at least four times a week, I had to factor in my lifestyle, health, and schedule. Sex four times a week sometimes meant foreplay and dry humping on the couch between the kid’s nap time, mutual masturbation at night before we fell asleep, or sensuous hours-long exploration on a weekend getaway.
This experiment made me realize sex doesn’t have to mean one thing, and by allowing acceptance, exploration, and, of course, consent, you can see some amazing differences in your relationship.
Plus, the trial and error can be really, really fun. 😉