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Common Sex Problems Couples Have (& How To Fix 'Em)

Sick of not having great sex? Hmm, perhaps this can help.

Sex

I'm a quotes person, right? Well, one of my all-time favorite ones is, "Complain to someone who can help you." While I certainly don't profess to have all of the answers when it comes to sex, after working with couples for many years now, there are 10 major problems that I tend to hear, on loop. So, I figured that there's a pretty good chance that some of y'all may either be experiencing them as well or, you know someone who says their sex life currently sucks and they're looking for the reason(s) why that could be the case.


These aren't all of the challenges that couples face. Yet I do think that if fireworks aren't currently going off in your world, reading this might help to connect some dots, create some solutions and get you back to being all hot 'n bothered, in the best way possible, tonight.

1. Boredom

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I'm not the least bit ashamed to say that one of my favorite movies is The Fault in Our Stars and one of my favorite lines in it is when one of the characters says, "A lot of times, we don't understand the promises we make when we make them." Man, if I could provide a bottom line statement for why so many married couples divorce, that would have to be it. A lot of folks don't take the "my word is bond" approach to their marriage vows and so, they'll call it quits, for just about any reason these days; including boredom. Yep. More and more, boredom is becoming a leading cause for why relationships are ending and sex lives are suffering. The love can be there. The chemistry can be there. And still, if folks feel like things have become too routine and ho-hum, they'll dip out.

If you're reading this and nodding your head up and down because, while you're not thinking about ending your relationship, you're literally bored to tears, it's not OK to simply — pardon the pun — lay down and take it. If you do, it could lead to resentment and/or faking it and/or cheating. If you're bored, you definitely need to let your partner know. Not just outside of the bedroom, inside of the bedroom too because if having sex with your partner is basically like watching paint dry, you deserve sooooo much more.

Solution: You and your partner should consider putting together a sex bucket list on an annual basis. Have each of you jot down 12 things that you'd like to try and then attempt to do two of them (one from each person's list) every month. It's an easy way to break up the monotony, add more spice to your boudoir and give you something to look forward to too.

2. Different Sleep Schedules

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According to several studies, around 75 percent of long-term couples do not go to bed at the same time. While on the surface, this might not seem like such a big deal, the reason why this isn't something to shrug off is, due to hectic schedules, a lot of people aren't able to get any quality time in with their boo until they are able to crawl into bed and pillow talk with them. Not to mention that it can be hard to get some if you're a night owl, your partner is an early riser and you'd prefer to have sex at midnight while they want it at 5 a.m. The result? Only sex on the weekends or sometimes, even less than that.

Solution: There are many couples I've worked with where having different sleep schedules has been a huge cause of why they have sex less and less. My suggestion has been to compromise. While it might not be realistic to expect you and your partner to cuddle up together, at the same time, each and every night, there should be at least two nights a week that it does indeed occur. It ups the chances for some much-needed quality time, feeling emotionally connected and…getting some as well.

3. Body Changes

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I don't care how old you are when you get into your relationship, at some point, your body is going to change. Age changes us. Hormonal shifts change us. Having children changes us. The list goes on and on. Thing is, if we don't stay on top of these realities, when we find ourselves having less sex, less stamina or fewer orgasms, it could result in us thinking that something is wrong with our relationship when really, it's just that physically, we are going through a bit of a transition.

Solution: I can't tell you how many people I know — mostly Black folks — who rarely ever go to the doctor. Listen, while I'm the first person to give westernized medicine the perpetual side-eye, there is something to be said for not "Google diagnosing" everything and actually having an annual physical. One of the benefits is so you can get your body — and hormone levels — checked out so that you can confirm that things are running smoothly.

Another thing to consider when it comes to body changes is to be intentional about remaining body positive when it comes to how you see yourself and your partner (check out "These 10 Hacks Will Help You Love Your Body More" and "10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem").

You know, I once had a blog that featured different married couples. When I asked one of the husbands what he loved about his wife's body, he said, "I love that when God created her, he had me in mind." This was a few years in and after kids, by the way.

Body changes are bound to happen. Taking care of your health while embracing your transitions is the key to remaining confident and maintaining a thriving sex life.

4. Mediocre Foreplay

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I believe I shared before that, one time, when I was about to close out a series of sessions (years' worth, in fact) with a particular married couple and I asked both of them what they desired sexually from one another, moving forward. The wife said that she wanted to stop using her own saliva to make herself wet. What. In. The. Entire. World? She went on to share that while the intercourse itself was pretty on-point, the foreplay, oftentimes, was mediocre at best. And yes, while I know that can sound crazy on the surface, when you stop to really think about it, some folks can get the positions and strokes down yet the warming up stage is a bit subpar. This can oftentimes be the case with a couple who's been having sex for a while and has taken the seduction phase for granted or a couple who never really made mastering foreplay a priority in the first place.

Solution: A very basic definition of foreplay is a prelude to intercourse that consists of acts that lead to sexual stimulation. Earlier this year, when I wrote the article, "Mental Foreplay Hacks That Ultimately Takes Intercourse To New Levels" for the platform, it was to serve as a reminder that the best foreplay masters are people who know that it's important to stimulate the mind, body and spirit. Flirt. Cultivate ambiance. Be more romantic. Play around with phone sex. Dress up sometimes. Try things like orgasmic meditation. Up your oral sex game. Bring in some ice, fruit and chocolate. Get out of your bedroom. TAKE. YOUR. DAMN. TIME. When foreplay is treated like a part of the experience and not just "a way to get him hard or her wet real quick", it can make sex so much better — from beginning to end.

5. A Bonging Biological Clock

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Babies are a blessing. I am reminded of this very fact, every time I am afforded the honor and privilege of helping to bring a baby into the world (as a doula). Unfortunately, for some couples, conceiving is way more difficult than it is for others. Believe you me, I get that. However, sometimes the desire to get pregnant can become so all-consuming that it ends up taking a real toll on a couple's relationship, including their sex life. Case in point, I know a wife who shared with me that she and her husband almost ended up getting a divorce while they were trying to have their daughter because a couple of years of "trying" resulted in sex that was so planned that it became mechanical which caused both of them to become turned off by the very act. A husband recently shared with me that he's considering cheating on his wife because all that she ever talks about is getting pregnant. It's gotten to the point that he doesn't even want to talk to her — or have sex with her — at all.

Solution: Sex is the most natural way to become pregnant. However, that is not the only purpose of the act. Shoot, the oxytocin boosts (which help you to feel closer to your partner) alone help to confirm that it's an activity that's also about emotionally connecting with your partner and experiencing an immense amount of physical pleasure. Y'all, something that I tell people who are trying to have a baby is it's a lot like making homemade chocolate chip cookies in the sense that, even when you've got all of the right ingredients together, you've still gotta give the oven time to do its job. Timing, along with good health and low stress, play a significant role in conception. CHILL. Besides, you don't want to be so obsessed with conceiving and/or your biological clock that it ultimately costs you a good sex life and, quite possibly, your relationship too.

6. Shifts in Sex Drives

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It's kind of unfortunate that, when a couple isn't having as much sex as they typically do, the natural assumption tends to either be that someone is cheating or that someone isn't interested in their partner anymore. While both instances are sometimes the case, it should also go on record that certain medications, fatigue, anxiety, worry, too little or too much exercise, the abuse/misuse of alcohol or drugs, low self-esteem and even straight-up aging can play a direct role too. In other words, sometimes the mind is willing while the body or emotions are waning just a bit.

Solution: When it comes to this particular sex-related issue, it's a good idea to go by process of elimination. One way to approach this most effectively is to do a little sex journaling. Try and think back to when your sex life was pretty consistent. Then jot down any changes that have happened between now and then. If they're lifestyle-related, you'll know what to add or eliminate. If it's something that requires a professional's attention, make an appointment to see a doctor and/or a reputable therapist/counselor/coach. Very rarely does a sex shift (especially an abrupt one) transpire out of thin air for absolutely no reason. Be intentional as possible about getting down to the root cause and then sharing the results with your partner (encourage them to do the same). It's an effective way to get back on the same page — and consistency levels — again.

7. Going to Bed Looking…Not the Best

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I'm a woman and sometimes, even I look at some women like, "Y'all are doing the most right now." And by "most", I mean not a helluva lot. Take how pissed a lot of Black women were when Mo'Nique admonished us about wearing bonnets in public. Listen, as someone who had grandmas, on the sides, who instilled the "Don't go out looking a hot mess" mentality to me, I get where she was coming from. However, what really made me be like, "Sometimes we as women just wanna be contrary to be contrary" is when I also recalled all of the hell that Derrick Jaxn's wife was sent through, again by Black women, for having a bonnet on in his "confession" (and her follow-up) video.

We've all got different styles. Noted. Still, why we would want to look like we just rolled out of bed in public is a little beyond me. Plus, as a wife of 35+ years had to say about it, "If you don't want to look the best for yourself, that says a lot about you. It's also going to cause issues in your relationship, whether you want to accept that fact or not." She's not wrong.

When it comes to what a lot of couples tell me is a huge hindrance in their sex life, you'd be amazed by how many times I hear that how their partner comes to bed is annoying AF. It's not just men who feel this way either. I mean, think about it — how is a big ass bonnet, footie PJs and older-than-most-of-your-kids boxers a turn-on? It isn't.

Solution: No one is saying that you've got to relive your prom when you're turning in. All I'm saying is there are too many different varieties of sleepwear out here for you to be looking like who-shot-Johnny. Even a tank top, some boy shorts and your hair up in a pineapple can be cute as hell. Some new boxer briefs for your man are pretty sexy too. Or, you can always do what is even more seductive and healthier for you. You can sleep naked. Amen? Hallelujah.

8. Laziness

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Wanna know a clear indication that either you are taking your partner for granted or they are doing it to you? It's if one of you is super lazy in bed. And just what does that even look like? Lazy lovers do the bare minimum. Lazy lovers are fine sticking to the same routine all of the time. Lazy lovers aren't that impressive when it comes to foreplay or afterplay (hell, a lot of them don't even know what afterplay even is). Lazy lovers barely ever go a second round. Lazy lovers lack creativity, seduction moves or ways to bring more spice into the relationship. And the crazy thing is, even if a lazy lover is able to get their partner off, after a while, that person is still going to feel like something is missing because, well, something is. Good lovers know that great sex isn't just about achieving a climax; it's about blowing your partner's mind before and afterwards too. Enough to go another round or two, for sure.

Solution: Two things that many lazy individuals have in common is a lack of planning and a ton of procrastination. That said, it's a good idea to keep in mind that synonyms for lazy include words like inattentive, passive, neglectful, out of it and dull. If you or your partner seem to reflect any of these words, on any level, it's time to reenergize your sex life. Plan a sexcation. Try some new sex positions. When's the last time you and your partner did it in the shower (check out "So, This Is How To Make Shower Sex So Much Better")? Have an oral sex "competition" to see who can go without having an orgasm the longest. Ask your partner to share a fantasy and then work to make it come true. The challenging thing about laziness when it comes to sex is it low-key sends a message of disinterest. No one feels desired or appreciated when that kind of energy exists.

9. Not Enough Emotional Intimacy

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Something that a lot of men and women will certainly vouch for is, while you can enjoy the mechanics of sex with many people, the experience is so much better when there is a strong emotional connection between two people. When folks who are in a serious or long-term relationship feel a disconnect, this can definitely translate in their boudoir. The main reason why is because a lot of relationships get to a point and place that it's not so much the physical attraction that makes sex outstanding. Don't get me wrong, being physically drawn to your partner is important (some folks forget or underestimate this part). Still, knowing that you are loved, respected and adored, for reasons well beyond what you look like, can be a type of aphrodisiac that is truly unmatched.

Solution: When's the last time you wrote your partner a love letter? When's the last time you told them all of the things (that you can think of at the time) that you love and like about them? Can you recall the last truly memorable date that you went on? When's the last time you asked them what their goals and dreams are and really just sat there and listened? When you've been wrong, have you owned it and apologized (builds trust) or found some way to deflect and justify your actions (cultivates distrust)? Can you recall the last time you and your partner did nothing but joke around and laugh (was it longer than a couple of weeks ago)? When's the last time the two of you just cuddled up and talked until sunrise? Some of the best sex is when both people feel extremely safe in each other's presence. Emotional intimacy is definitely what can help to make that happen.

10. Faking Orgasms

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I promise you, while I understand some of the whys behind why some women (and men) fake orgasms, you will never convince me that they are a good idea. For one thing, no matter how you cut it, faking is a form of dishonesty and secondly, if you're basically lying to your partner, how in the world is sex going to get any better? Case in point. There's a wife I know who's been faking orgasms her entire marriage (over 10 years) because she "doesn't want to hurt her husband's feelings". A couple of years back, they were going through a rough patch and she had an affair with an ex — a man who always made her climb the walls. Her husband doesn't know about either lie to this day. Tell me how that is a healthy situation. It's absolutely not one.

Solution: There's a male friend of mine who is oh so very confident that he's made every woman he's been with cum. When I asked him to provide me with the evidence of his confidence (eh hem, borderline arrogance), he talked about all of the screaming and shaking most of them would make. I simply asked, "Did you feel their vaginal walls contract?" What I got were crickets.

As we come to the end of this piece, the best solution for giving up fake orgasms for real ones is open and honest communication, followed by being highly attentive, so that you can learn your partner's body. That needs to be followed up with a willingness to be as patient, generous and willing to learn as possible. After all, orgasms are more of an art form than anything else. Meaning, oftentimes, they don't "just happen". They must be made to happen. That said, if there's one thing that will almost guarantee that you won't have (many of) them, it's faking it. So…don't. It's the first step to getting this particular sex problem…solved.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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