A few weeks ago, one of my clients asked me if I had watched a movie that has racked up about a billion (give or take) Oscar nods this year—A Marriage Story. I think because, as a marriage life coach, I feel like I see the movie, on repeat, every week, it didn't "move me" quite as much as it probably did a lot of other people. Still, I totally get why my divorced client—along with a friend of mine who said she cried while watching it—was a bit shook. The writing is extremely realistic. It also helps to prove a particular belief on marriage that I have. It's the belief that "big things" are not what typically rock a marriage to its core. No, it's usually very small things that go ignored or resentfully unaddressed that end up snowballing way out of control.
That is why I'm a huge fan of recommending marriage hacks to couples. Aside from seasonal therapy (which I also highly recommend; it's like a routine oil change for your relationship), it's one of the best ways to keep little issues from eventually becoming gigantic problems. It's also one way to hopefully avoid becoming the real-life version of one of this year's most popular films.
1. Write a Marriage Mission Statement
If you go to Wikipedia to see how it defines a mission statement, this is a part of what it will say—"A mission statement is a short statement of why an organization exists, what its overall goal is, identifying the goal of its operations…" And yes, while a lot of mission statements are penned for businesses, I personally am a huge fan of them also being written for personal reasons. Ask any married couple who's passed the newlywed phase and they will vouch for the fact that it's the kind of union that also needs clarity on why the relationship exists, what the overall goals are and what needs to be done in order to reach those ambitions. If right now, it feels like, although you and your spouse are "in it to win it", you're not really sure what that means or how to get where you want to go, take out a couple of hours one weekend to write a mission statement together. Then post it somewhere where you both can see it. This very simple marriage hack could be what brings clarity to the purpose of and desires for your relationship.
2. Go on a Positivity Fast
If someone were to ask you right now to mention seven things that totally irk you about your partner, I'm willing to bet the money that I will get from writing this article that you can rattle those things right off. Yet isn't it interesting that, if someone were to also ask you to share 10 things that you adore about your spouse, chances are, it would probably take a lot more time? A part of the reason why a lot of us roll that way is due to something known as a "negativity bias". It basically means that our brains have a tendency to not only take in negative stimuli more easily but we oftentimes dwell on it too.
One way to "reprogram" yourself is to be intentional about focusing on the positive. One way to do this in your marriage is to tell yourself (and your partner) that you are going to go three, five or seven days without saying anything negative. Instead, you are only going to state positive words towards and about them.
The affirmations will make your spouse feel loved, respected and appreciated. Plus, putting good energy into your relationship will help you to see your marriage from a "glass half full" rather than a "glass half empty" perspective. And that always will work in your favor.
3. DIY a Hotel Bed
People who know me know that I am good for hooking a married couple up with a hotel room, free of charge. Although it's been a minute since I've had hotel sex (le sigh), I still have my memories and there is something about a hotel bed that makes coitus extra bomb! But man, when I went to book a Valentine's Day reservation recently, the rooms in Nashville were averaging between $350-400 a night. Geeze. That has given me the idea to also start doing DIY hotel room gift baskets. Basically, they're baskets with high thread-count sheets, new pillows, some essential oils and possibly a pillow mattress cover, if needed.
Listen, while incorporating a sex jar can help you to save money so that you can engage in a lil' bit of hotel copulation, if times are tight right now, one way to make sex extra hot is to DIY your own hotel bed. A change of bedding and a few candles can do miracles. You'd betta believe it.
4. Do a Project Together
One of my closest male friends calls me a "king maker". Out of all of the affirmations that I've received, that one definitely ranks up in the top three because he told me that it means that I like to do my part to help men to win. He's right. That's why I consider myself to be a complementarian which basically means that I believe that men and women were created equally yet differently, in part, in order to complement one another and bring balance to each other's lives. So, if you're a single woman who desires to be married someday, please make sure that the man you choose shows clear signs of being a "queen maker"—that you both are invested in building each other up in as many ways as possible.
If you're already married, one way to do this kind of building is for you and your spouse to pick a project that you can do together. It can be something around the house. It can be taking a class or course together. Or, it could be putting together an annual bucket list and seeing how many things you can check off of it come Christmas. Sometimes, life is so crazy, that couples forget that they are there to help to share the load, dream together, and use each other's resources to accomplish certain goals and aspirations. The more two people function as a team, the more bonded they tend to be.
5. Forgive. ASAP.
Something that I tell single and engaged people often is, if you're not good at forgiving someone (including yourself), you are going to suck at marriage. Keeping this in mind, while it might be an "ouch" moment for some, when you think about the root cause of a lot of divorces out here, many of them stem from unforgivingness. In fact, I believe that one of the reasons why a lot of people struggle so much with marriage is because they have too much pride, fear and/or ego to accept that someone else is just as human and flawed as they are. The reason why I say that is because, it's real interesting how much we want to be forgiven for what we do (or don't do), but the moment someone else desires the same empathy, compassion and pardon, we emotionally shut down.
Forgiveness isn't easy. Whew, not at all. But some of the healthiest people with the longest-running marriages will tell you that if you want your marriage to thrive, accepting the humanness of your partner, not holding grudges and learning to let stuff go are some of the best ways to do that.
The Bible even co-signs—"When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down." (Ephesians 4:26—AMPC) Another way to look at this is, "Forgive others as quickly as you expect God to forgive you." (A writer named Sylvia Grace once said that.) If the Word ain't your thing, a great quote by author Bryan H. McGill says, "There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love." Show your partner how much you love them by forgiving them. It really is one of marriage's superpowers and the key to not only saying "until death parts us" but actually meaning it.
6. Recreate Your First Date
Romance is important to the health and well-being of a relationship; especially a marriage. This definition of the word is a big reason why—"to court or woo romantically; treat with ardor or chivalrousness". No one wants to feel like their spouse isn't "wooing them" anymore, simply because they are "officially" together. If it's been a while since you and your partner have done something to make you blush or him grin, a simple way to bring the romance back is to recreate your first date. No matter how elaborate or simple it was, there is always something super sweet about revisiting the moments when you both first saw a spark (or a potential one) between the two of you.
7. Participate in a 7-Day Climax Mission
There are a lot of married people who've told me that the longer they are with their spouse, the better their sex life becomes. To me, that makes total sense because even the King James Version of the Bible uses the word "know" to define sexual intimacy (the New King James Version of Genesis 4:1 is a good example of this). The more you get to know someone and they get to know you, the more pleasurable the relationship can be. And, the more two people get to know one another, the better they become at figuring out what turns their partner on and what doesn't; what will make them climax and what won't.
That's why, whenever I'm dealing with a sexually frustrated spouse who tells me that it's been a while since they've had an orgasm, one eyebrow—if not both—goes up. "Have they ever made you cum?" is usually my first question. If the answer is "yes", then I tell them that if it happened before, it can happen again. Next, I suggest that they go on a 7-day climax mission—and yep, it's just what you think it is. The reason why I've penned articles like "10 Simple Ways Married Couples Can Make More Time For Sex" is because, while it would be cool if all sex sessions could be like 90s R&B songs, not everyone has time for all night long sex, all of the time. But you know what you can make time for? Getting your partner off. And if you've been paying even 50 percent of attention to their body, that is something that you can make time to pull off every day, for a week straight—easily. If doing this doesn't make the two of you happier and ultimately bring the two of you closer together, I promise you that I don't know what will!
8. Go on a Road Trip
There are some couples I know who've been married for years and can count on one hand how many times they've taken a romantic trip together (including their honeymoon). That's sad, y'all. Spending quality time away with your boo should not be seen as a luxury; it should definitely be treated as a necessity, especially since there are studies to support the fact that traveling together causes couples to feel closer to one another. Not only that but one article I read stated that couples who go on vacations feel like they have similar goals and desires, that they are able to handle their differences better and that they have more fun together too.
Even if you're not ballin' and you can't get away on a cruise or even catch a flight to another state any time soon, at least try and fit a road trip in a couple of times a year. The time alone in the car, coupled with spending a few days being totally off of life's grid can be just what you need to breathe new life and romance into your union.
9. Pray and/or Meditate Together
I recently read an article that stated some of the health benefits that come from praying. Some of them include the fact that praying makes you more positive, reduces stress, gives you stronger coping mechanisms, increases your ability to forgive, and even adds years to your life. The reason why I'm bringing this up is because, whenever I deal with a couple that's in trouble, there are usually two things that they are not doing—praying and having sex. When you see all of the good things that come out of doing both (for the sex point, check out "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important"), why wouldn't you want to incorporate them into your relationship as much as possible?
On the prayer tip, it can be having prayer together in the morning or before turning in at night. Or, if prayer isn't your thing, consider taking out 10-15 minutes to meditate together instead. I once read an article that provided 100 physiological benefits of meditation. If you take it a step further and turn it into an orgasmic meditation exercise, you might find that prayer and/or meditation are the hacks that could be totally life-saving when it comes to your relationship.
One more hack, y'all and it's an easy one. When's the last time that you and yours cuddled? I don't mean getting close as a lead into foreplay. I mean just sitting on the couch while being draped over one another or curling up in each other's arms while engaging in some pillow talk? Yeah, don't sleep on cuddling. It's proven to lower inflammation, ease chronic pain, boost immunity, relieve anxiety and improve one's quality of sleep. Also, since cuddling is a surefire way to boost the "love hormone" known as oxytocin (which can instantly make you feel closer to your partner), it's the kind of activity that can cause your mind, body and spirit to feel connected to your partner in a very sweet, sentimental and intimate kind of way. Try it tonight. Watch how it benefits your union—how a simple thing like experiencing a long hug from your life partner can totally get your marriage back on track.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
What's Up With The Whole 'Married But Living Apart' Trend?
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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15 Hot Tips Giving The Missionary Position The Upgrade You Crave
Ah, yes, the missionary position. If there’s one sex position that pretty much everyone off top knows what it consists of, the missionary would have to be it. So, where does the name exactly come from? Oddly enough, even though it’s probably the most common sex position there is, there’s conflicting information about how its name actually came to be.
Some say that the Catholic church deemed it to be the only “non-sinful” position, and folks followed suit. Others believe that it’s tied into “patriarchy” since a man being on top puts a woman into a submissive receiving position (I mean, the Bible does tell wives to submit to their husbands, and sex is referenced for married couples, so that tracks — Ephesians 5, Colossians 3:18, I Peter 3:1-7, Genesis 2:24-25, I Corinthians 6:16-20). There are even stories about missionaries teaching people of African, Native American, and Chinese ethnicities that any other position is wrong and so those people came up with the term “missionary position” to make fun of the missionaries (chile).
Whatever the actual backstory is, what we know for sure is the missionary position continues to be super popular (although leave it to millennials to knock it out of first position and replace it with doggystyle these days), a great way to cultivate emotional intimacy (more on that in just a sec) — and it is oftentimes perceived as hella boring.
That last point is what I’m gonna address today. Because since it is indeed a great way to connect with your partner, it makes it easier to hit “your spot” (the G-spot, to be exact), and it’s also easy on your body (you know, if the desire is there but your limbs are not exactly cooperating), in my eyes, the missionary position needs to receive the proper respect that it deserves — and the best way to do that is to give it a few, perhaps much-needed, “upgrades.” Here are 15 of ‘em.
1. Do Some Eye Gazing Before Anything Else
Recently, I was talking to a male friend of mine who told me that he doesn’t do casual sex in the missionary position. After asking him how he is subtly able to even pull that off (another article, another time), I then wanted to know the method behind his madness: “It’s too intimate and vulnerable. I need to be in something serious with you to be that…into you.”
One might say that literally putting your member into a woman’s vagina is “into her,” yet I digress. Instead, I’ll just focus on the fact that when they say that eyes are the windows to the soul, there is definitely some truth to that. And when it comes to cultivating intimacy with your partner, there is a practice known as eye gazing that can help to connect the two of you in a very special way.
In fact, there are studies to support that you can analyze how someone feels about you by looking into their eyes, you can increase your level of attraction to them by looking into their eyes, and you and your partner can go up a new level in trust if you look into each other’s eyes as well.
How long should the eye gazing last? Some experts say that the goal should be for five minutes while taking deep breaths in between. While doing that might feel awkward at first, look at it this way — y’all are gonna be face to face for a while anyway, right? Why not take the exchange of energy to another level while you’re doing it? And why not get into this mind of headspace by eye gazing as a form of emotional foreplay?
2. Bring Some Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang or Lavender and Vanilla
One of the best things about the missionary position is it encourages you to shut out the rest of the world, ignore any distractions and really focus on your partner. Matter of fact, a sex therapist once told me that one of the perks of this particular position is it significantly decreases your chances of you and/or your partner fantasizing about other people during coitus (hey, it happens…way more than people care to admit too).
Something that can help to keep you and your partner centered on one another only is the scent of jasmine, ylang-ylang, and a combo of lavender and vanilla. As a bonus, all are also sensual, calming, and relaxing too. You can add a few drops to a carrier oil (like sweet almond or grapeseed) and create a DIY massage oil. You can sprinkle some of them onto your bedding. You can also add a few drops into your sexual pressure points for a nice surprise as far as your partner’s sense of smell goes.
3. Pull in (More) Pillows
For some reason, I can’t find it now (sorry!), but a few weeks ago, I was cracking up at a video of a guy who was challenging his girlfriend to get into the position of being on top like a man and pushing for more than a minute straight. She failed miserably (it really was hilarious!). After I sent it to a few male friends, one wrote back and said, “Y’all have no idea what being on top can do to a brotha’s back sometimes.”
A workaround that will make everyone happy? Bring in some more pillows. It will elevate your body so that he won’t have to bend over quite so low. Plus, it will help him to penetrate you more deeply, which is almost always a good thing.
You can use the pillows that you already have (they should work just fine). Or you can invest in a sex pillow. They tend to be a bit firmer so that you don’t have to be slippin’ and slidin’ all over the place. Glamour did you a solid by providing a list of some of their favorite sex pillows here; Self did the same by providing their best-of-the-best list here.
4. Light Some Candles
Back to the eye thing real quick. Yeah, I don’t know how y’all are gonna be able to stare deeply into each other’s eyes if it’s pitch black in the room. And here’s the thing about letting some light shine in; there was a study conducted that said when a light box (like the kind that’s used to treat depression) is brought into a man’s space, it can increase his levels of sexual desire. The reason why is it has a way of boosting his testosterone levels.
However, if you don’t want to feel like you’re standing — well, lying — in a room that has the ridiculous lighting that is in department store dressing rooms, go with candlelight instead. A soft glow can still help him to see your shapes and curves and the two of you to look at each other yet because everything with candles is way more subtle, it can help you to feel less self-conscious if you’re not as confident in the sex department as you would like to be (check out “10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem”).
5. Add Some Flavored Lube
Although pretty much all of us have heard the saying, “The wetter, the better,” at this point, this tip is a shout-out to the safe sex crowd (since reportedly, only one-third of men and one-quarter of women actually use condoms. SMDH). If you want to make bringing rubbers into a mix a much more pleasurable experience, go with some flavored lubricant. Although you might only think of its use in the context of oral sex (more on that in a bit), dabbing some on your neck (so that he can taste something sweet-er when he kisses you there) or on your wrists or forearm (so that he can lick them while your hands are pinned back) can be a truly welcome surprise.
And what are some of the best-tasting ones on the market these days? No worries. I got you:
6. Modify the Position…a Bit
As we continue, I will be — no pun intended — deep diving into some tweaks that can be made to the standard missionary position in order to intensify sexual pleasure. For now, I’ll just say that spooning face to face, allowing your partner to pin your legs back, having sex while standing up, letting him ride cowboy (which means he’s literally in the position that you are typically in during the cowgirl) and your partner lying horizontally over your body instead of vertically — these all are twists to the missionary that could cause you to hear “missionary position” with new levels of excitement.
7. Apply the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)
Speaking of modifying positions, what do y’all know about the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)? If you’re staring at your screen like, “What in the world is that?” it’s when your partner gets into the downward-facing dog yoga position while you’re on your back in the missionary one. This causes your partner’s penis to stimulate your clitoris as they are entering you and sometimes as they are going in and out. The (main) benefit is if you’re someone who finds experiencing a vaginal orgasm challenging, you significantly increase your chances of experiencing one since your clitoris will be stimulated during the act of intercourse.
Another bonus is “doing the CAT” can help a man to last longer if premature ejaculation is something that he is prone to experiencing.
8. Get Out of the Bed/Bedroom
The older we get, the more bedroom sex makes sense. After all, beds were specifically designed to support our bodies. Still, if you’ve been in a long-term relationship for quite some time, just like approaching the missionary position the same way every time can get old, so can always being in your bed — or bedroom.
You’re paying good money to utilize more than just one room in your home, so why not maximize each one’s potential? And as far as the best room in the house to get busy, I recently read an article that said bathrooms and balconies are fan favorites, followed by closets and utility rooms. Personally, I’m with what a Men’s Health article stated, which is the living room is probably the most comfortable (and common) — yet whatever you do, just try and think outside of the box sometimes. In this case, think outside of your bed and bedroom to see what other places are comfortable for you both.
9. Or…Get on the Edge of the Bed
So, what if you're like, "I hear you, but it's gonna be the bed for me, more times than not?" I hear you. There's a way to upgrade the missionary position and how you use your bed at the same time — have him pull you to the edge of the bed and either penetrate you by lifting your legs over his shoulders, or the two of you can just have "regular sex" that way (so long as he's good at maintaining his balance and keeping you from falling off at the same time).
The perks? For one, if his penis is more on the average side (check out "Sex Hacks For Different Kinds Of Penises (You Heard Me Right)"), he will be able to penetrate you more deeply. Another benefit is if you like to bring vibrators into the mix, it will be easier to do (especially if your legs are up). Another is this is one way to get your clitoris, vagina, and cervix all stimulated all at the same time — in fact, this is why another name for the edge of the bed is "the edge of heaven" (makes sense).
10. Keep Your Bra on — Kinda
As a doula, whenever new moms talk to me about easing back into sex, it's very common for them to talk about how "conflicted" they are when it comes to their breasts, especially if they are breastfeeding. It makes complete and total sense when you think about the fact that first, our breasts are ours alone, then men come in and use them as foreplay, and then here comes a baby who uses them as a food source. A top suggestion that I give is that moms invest in some super sexy nursing bras. That way, if they want to still keep their breasts covered up, there is something pretty for their partner to look at.
Along these same lines (kinda sorta), consider keeping your own bra on during missionary — well, kind of. Either get one that is extremely sheer or pull your breasts out so that they are hanging out over the front of your bra. Why? Well, a lot of men have told me over the years that while nothing really tops a woman in her birthday suit, the peek-a-boo effect of breasts over bras and crotchless panties turns them on in a way that they can't fully articulate. Plus, if you're a bit insecure, this can help you out like it can a new mom (believe it or not), especially if you're going to bring some lighting in (like I suggested earlier).
11. Enjoy His Nipples
Speaking of breasts…although not everyone finds their nipples to be the ultimate erogenous zone (check out “So, What If ‘Typical Erogenous Zones’ Annoy TF Outta You?”), don’t automatically assume that your partner is one of them. The reality is men have the same glands and nerve endings that we do when it comes to their nipples which means a lot of them find their nipples getting some TLC to be super erotic and enjoyable.
A husband client of mine once told me in a session that he wished that his wife would lick on his nipples more, especially during intercourse, because it takes his orgasms to a completely different level. When his wife heard that, she asked, since she’s not a contortionist, how could she possibly pull that off in a comfortable way? This actually brings us to the next point.
12. Try Some Kama Sutra Piercing
On the heels of what I just said, what do you know about the Kama Sutra approach known as piercing? It’s kind of similar to CAT, only with a twist. This time, a man should position his shoulders to where they are directly over your head — that way, as he is moving in and out, you can get direct clitoral stimulation.
How is this any different from the CAT? Well, with that position, his arch is backed farther away from you. Plus, it tends to feel the most amazing upon entry only. On the other hand, piercing makes it possible for you to do the whole nipple thing that we just talked about while he’s able to stimulate your clitoris more intentionally the entire time. A win/win for everyone, wouldn’t you say?
13. Engage in (Some or More) Edging
Another way to almost guarantee that your orgasms will be next level is to engage in a bit of edging. If you're familiar with the word, yet you've never exactly researched and/or tried it before — let's just say that it's the kind of act that requires some stamina (on his part) and some self-discipline (for you both). The reason why I say that is because edging is all about having intercourse, your partner stopping for 15-30 seconds, and then you both starting back up all over again.
And why would someone want to send themselves through this mind of, in a way, mind f-ck? It builds anticipation and excitement, which can actually make your orgasms super intense. Hell, it could even lead to multiple orgasms if y'all play your cards right. Anyway, you can learn more about edging by reading "All About Edging: The Ways Prolonging Pleasure Makes For Mind-Blowing Orgasms" on our platform.
14. Stop. And Switch.
As I was in the process of penning this piece, I asked a few people to share why they felt that some people take a ho-hum attitude about the missionary position. The general consensus was if that’s all you do the entire time, things can get old really quick.
Good point. That’s why it’s also a good idea to keep in mind that, just because you start off in missionary, no rule says that you have to stay there (unless you happen to live in Florida because, apparently, only the missionary is legal there; Florida stays wilin’ out). No rule says that once you start having sex that you can’t do some other, eh hem, activities in between positions too.
My vote? Be down to get into some oral, especially if you want to increase your chances of having an orgasm. A “good giver” is gonna get off so much on pleasuring you that you probably won’t have to worry about him needing to maintain an erection even if he spends a few moments downtown (cue SWV’s song). Oral sex intermissions are so unsung. Whew, chile.
15. Moan ‘N Whisper
The last and final point. "Dirty talk" is always gonna be a winner when it comes to sex, period; however, when you're in the missionary position, it's really amazin' considering you're both right next to each other's ears.
And what if dirty talk isn't something that you've exactly mastered (yet)? The key is to not overthink it. Moan. Whisper the things that you like being done to you (or that you want him to try). Ask him what he likes (or wants more of). When he's got it right, praise him. If he's got a pet name, use it. If you want to go with his government name, he probably won't mind that either.
The main point here is to remember that great sex incorporates all of the senses — touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. And since words are our most effective form of communication, you can't go wrong with using some in the bedroom…especially when you're giving it all that you've got in the missionary position…especially as you're adding in some of these upgrades that I just shared.
Enjoy, sis. EN-freakin’-JOY!
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