It was the first day of our honeymoon, but we were too tired to make love. The wedding, at a cliff side resort in Mexico, was both spiritual and boisterous—we exchanged vows under Buddhist prayer flags I’d brought home from Tibet, then partied to an eight-piece salsa band and laughed until we cried when our guests howled to a karaoke version of “Y.M.C.A.” during the band breaks. It was romantic, funny, beautiful, and transcendent. And exhausting. Now, as we lay in a swinging hammock next to our bungalow by the sea, nothing but lazy days ahead, we had time for abundant lovemaking. And a sex therapist must have a red-hot honeymoon, right?
Well, that depends on whether she planned for passion. Because all my new hubby and I wanted to do in that romantic hammock at that very moment was read a book, not practice Kama Sutra number eighty-four.
Great sex—and by that, I mean many things: sex that is connected, hot, fun, simple, complex, raw, or sweet, everything from a quickie to an erotic buffet—is not an accident. If you are in a long-term relationship, you can no longer rely on the thrill of early lust and desire to ignite your erotic engine. Even on your honeymoon. So, you need to plan for passion.
There is a fairly simple biological and psychological reason for this decline in spontaneous passion. “Falling-in-love” biochemistry is stimulated by the thrill of the chase. Our evolutionary imperative is to pursue and then catch a mate. So, when we are dating, we are overcome with the drive for connection, intimacy, and sex. We are highly motivated to get together, and we are also horny. Even if we are wiped out after an exhausting day, we find it’s easy to have sex with our new squeeze. Biology and novelty ensure we are (almost) always in the mood.
But in long-term love, the prize is already won. You’ve caught the lover and put a ring on it. The deep need to find and possess a mate is over, and your biochemistry changes from the thrill of the chase to the contentment of the caught. And you no longer feel the lust that you did.
So, what can you do about your reduced mojo? Read a romance novel in your honeymoon hammock while ignoring the real flesh-and-blood hunk snoozing beside you? Simply accept that the thrill is gone?
Heck no. What you do need to accept—because it is reality—is that the thrill, and your sex drive, is not as easy or automatic as when you were in the throes of new love. You do not need to accept a lazy, mediocre, or nonexistent sex life. Because you can do something about it. You can plan for passion and make love even when you are not yet in the mood. That’s right—sexual desire does not need to be present before you start a sexual encounter. According to Rosemary Basson, clinical professor and Director of the UBC Sexual Medicine Program, sexual response is not as linear as we used to think. It’s more complex than simply waiting until you feel turned on and then initiating lovemaking. Basson’s research indicates that starting a sexual encounter from a place of sexual neutrality—the couple has no apparent desire or arousal—is quite normal in long-term couples.
And that is where planning for passion comes in.
My man and I decided to create passion, even though we were pooped and didn’t really feel like it in that very moment. We began to caress, fondle, and tease. And before you know it, the hammock was swinging, and so were we.
So, take it from a sex expert. Thrill can last a lifetime, it just needs a little help.
Here are some tips to have more and better sex in 2019:
1. If you value your sexual life, don’t simply wait until you are aroused to begin an erotic encounter. Start making love anyway. In time your mind and body will become turned on. By making a little effort, you will make more love and experience the emotional, physical, and spiritual release that sexuality brings.
2. Realize that great sex is all in your head. You can train your mind toward desire and experience more sexual pleasure using mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness practices for intimate couples can have a great benefit on romantic life: In a 2014 study, four ninety-minute mindfulness sessions were shown to significantly improve the sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction of women seeking help for low sexual arousal and low desire. Improvements were maintained at six-month follow-up. So, start to meditate, and create more passion.
3. Make a Passion Plan. Don’t expect lust to happen on its own. Choose some daily, weekly, and monthly activities that will help ignite your erotic engine. For example:
Daily – Kiss each other goodnight passionately, with lots of tongue. This isn’t your Aunt Bettie, this is your lover—so kiss them like you mean it.
Weekly – Decide you will make love twice a week, no matter what. Take a shower together, soap each other up, begin to connect without waiting until you feel sexually motivated
Monthly – Create Sensual IUOs. Write some romantic, or erotic promises—a sexy night at a nice hotel, an evening of salsa dancing, playing out a sexual fantasy together—and exchange them. Then take turns cashing in your IOUs.
Visit http://www.drcherylfraser.com/buddhasbedroom/ for a video teaching on your Passion Plan and a downloadable PDF you can fill in with your sweetheart.
Sharp, frank, and fearless, Cheryl Fraser, PhD, is a Buddhist psychologist with a private practice in sex and couples therapy, and a sought-after relationship expert. She has helped thousands of couples jump-start their love life and create passion that lasts a lifetime.