I ain't gonna lie. Whenever I hear a married person say that sex isn't that big of a deal in a relationship, I immediately think, "So, what's up with your sex life?" For one thing, the Bible says it's a big deal (Genesis 2:24-25, Proverbs 5, Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 6:16-20—Matthew). It should be one of the main things that separates the kind of relationship you have with your spouse from the one you have with other people. Plus, there are way too many benefits that come from doing it (including it de-stresses you; makes you feel closer to your partner; boosts your immunity; lessens any body aches and pains you may have; lowers your blood pressure, and increases your longevity, for starters). And that's just some of the reasons why sex actually is something that should be a top priority in any marital union (that is physically capable).
We're at the top of a new year, so I figured that now would be as good of a time as any to share some of the things that husbands and wives should focus on, specifically, as it relates to their sex lives. Because while sex shouldn't be seen as the "cake" of a marriage, it should definitely be an ingredient that makes the cake good—I also think it's the icing too, chile.
1. More Prayer and/or Meditation Time Together
If you grew up in a religious household, you probably prayed, simply because that's something that you were taught to do. But did you know that there are proven health benefits that come from doing it? Praying can decrease your stress levels, put you into a better mood, make you feel more positive about life and even help you to communicate better with those around you (because once you talk it out with God, you can oftentimes gain a greater perspective with others). You know, there's a Scripture in the Bible that basically says that where two or more are joined, God is in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). So, when you stop and ponder what prayer can do for you alone, why wouldn't you want to join into this activity with your spouse?
As far as meditation goes, it's also a practice that relieves stress and anxiety, increases your attention span, helps to make you kinder and more sympathetic towards others, helps to control pain levels and can improve your quality of sleep as well. So, if you do a form of couple's meditation, not only can it serve as a way to get more quality time in but if you it's orgasmic meditation, it can do wonders for your libido and sexual satisfaction too. If you've never heard of orgasmic meditation before, check out "What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?". If you want a little proof that prayer before sex goes hand in hand, check out "Ashley Graham & Her Husband Say Prayer Is The Ultimate Form Of Foreplay". Amen? Amen.
2. Sex Dates
When you're single, a big part of the reason why you go on dates is to get to know the other person better and, if you're interested in getting married, deciding if someone is a good fit for your life. After you're married, dating is about getting off of the roller coaster called life so that you and your partner can really focus on nothing but one another.
That's why I'm such a big fan of sex dates. They are dates that are super romantic and yes, have a sex theme/focus to them. While I once read that more than a date per month can turn out to be too stressful and/or expensive for married folks, who said that dates always had to be over the top? You can always plan dates at home (check out "10 Romantic Dates You Can Go On (In Your Own Home)")—and if they're sex dates, all you need is a little horniness and creativity to make at least a couple of nights a month, super unforgettable (check out "When's The Last Time You And Your Man Had A 'Sex Date'?"). How about opening up a bottle of wine this week so that you and your man can put some sex dates on your schedule. Who knows what the chat alone might lead to?
3. Bedding Upgrade(s)
While I hope that your sex life includes spontaneity (which would include getting out of your bed from time to time), since the bedroom is the most common (and oftentimes comfortable) place to get it in, make sure that you upgrade your bedding this year. For instance, when it comes to looking for sheets that will get the job done, they need to be durable (a good set should least you between 2-3 years), comfortable, able to "breathe" (so that you're not literally burning up, in the worst way possible) and easy to clean.
In a word, organic cotton. As for thread count (if you're into that sort of thing), a 400 count will feel amazing. As far as color, believe it or not, white remains the popular choice because it gives the feeling of being crisp and clean (which is why hotels use them). If you're like me and you prefer darker hues overall, there's certainly nothing wrong with that. Just remember that the darker the sheets, the easier it will be for bodily fluids to show.
4. Midday Quickies
Speaking of being spontaneous, really do your best to make 2021 the year of the quickie. Not that long passionate sex isn't the total bomb (oh, it most certainly is); it's just that there's something about hitting your partner up in the middle of the day to ask if they've got a few minutes that conveys how much you still desire them—and who doesn't want to be lusted in the absolute best way possible? I don't care if you both work from home or not, make it happen. If you do happen to be home, it only takes a man about six minutes to climax and be honest, it probably takes you longer to get a glass of juice and drink it (am I wrong?). If one of you works from an office, I'm pretty sure there's a lunch break, right (if not, that's illegal, so it's time to get a new job this year too)? Schedule a quickie in, at least once a month. It will help to relieve tension and stress, will put you in a much better mood, can actually make you more productive when you return back to work and, it can help to keep the spice alive in your relationship. All good enough reasons to strongly consider having quickies more often than you probably already do.
5. A Sex Library
The main reason why we read is to gain more knowledge and insight on different topics, right? That said, it's kind of crazy that a lot of married couples don't have more books that directly deal with the topic of sex in their house. If I were to recommend one right off the top of my head, it would beSacred Sex: A Spiritual Celebration of Oneness in Marriage (Tim Alan Gardner). Yet whether it's a sex book or maybe even a collection of sex-themed podcasts, you can create your own book or podcast club for two by choosing something to read or listen to each month (or every other month) and then having a dinner when you both discuss your takeaways from what you processed. It's just one more way to engage in quality time while also strengthening your sexual relationship.
6. Sex-Shifting Discussions
The reason why I've written articles for the site like "How Your Man Can Adjust To Your 'Sexual Growth Spurts'" and "9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight." is because I deal with way too many couples to not get that one of the greater challenges that happen in a marriage is couples outgrowing one another while still being in love with each other. And sometimes, this happens in their bedroom. As it specifically relates to relationships, one of my favorite quotes is "people change and don't tell each other". Before long, you look up, realize you're strangers and wonder if you should get a divorce.
When you stood before your spouse and vowed (vows are promises, y'all) to be with them "for better or for worse", sometimes the "worse" is being patient throughout each other's evolutions. You won't know where each other are, sexually, without talking things through. Being more mindful of this in 2021 could save your sex life and ultimately, your marriage as well.
7. Monthly Sex Goals
If your only sex goals are to give your hubby enough to keep his mouth shut while hopefully having at least a few orgasms from time to time in the process, your bar is super duper low. Personally, I know married couples who have some really amazing-to-the-point-of-being-envious sex lives (check out "10 Married Couples Share The Keys To Their Totally Off-The-Chain Sex Life", "How To Have Mind-Blowing Multiple Orgasms. Tonight, Chile." and "What Is A Super Orgasm & How Can I Have One?"). One thing all of them say is a key to that is being intentional about having great sex.
A part of what can make this a reality for you is to set goals—ones like be more creative in February, buy some more sex toys in March and fulfill a couple of fantasies in April. While putting down some sex goals might initially seem like nothing other than one more thing for your to-do list, actually, if you break a few plans down, it can take some of the pressure off when it comes to taking your sex life to another level by making sure that both of you are fully satisfied.
8. Your Own “Position of the Month” Club
I once read that there are only six basic sex positions; that everything is some variation of those. The six include missionary, cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, doggy style, spooning and standing up. While there may be a lot of truth to that, there are books that claim there are at least 100 different twists to those positions to choose from and also articles that profess that there are close to 50. There are only 12 months in the year, so why not you and your husbands get a book and/or check out an article and select at least 12 positions that you've never tried before and add them to your monthly sex goals. It can be fun to try some new ones out, it can help to keep you and yours from getting into a sex rut and it can definitely help you both to discover new and exciting ways to get each other off.
9. Going to Bed at the Same Time
Did you know that as much as 75 percent of married couples don't go to bed at the same time? For some, it's because they have opposite work schedules (which is totally understandable). Others don't because if their spouse goes to be earlier than they do, that gives them a few precious moments alone. I get that too. But if you and yours aren't doing so "just because", you might wanna rethink that in the new year. Putting forth the conscious effort to turn in together, at least three times a week, gives the two of you the opportunity to engage in pillow talk, to cuddle and perhaps, well…who knows what that could lead to?
Another interesting article that I read said that it's right around the three-and-a-half year mark that husbands and wives start to take each other for granted; this includes not sleeping together (in the literal sense). It's hard to stay anywhere where you're not appreciated, no matter how sincere you were when you took your vows. So again, turning in together is something that should be made a top priority in 2021. It could help to prevent a sexless marriage or worse—a divorce up the road.
10. A Wedding Night Do-Over
As I said in the intro, from a spiritual perspective, sex is important. The Good Book says that it is a physical act that makes two people one (Genesis 2:24-25, I Corinthians 6:16-20—Message). From a legal angle, you're not even considered to be "all the way married" until you actually consummate. Yet guess how many couples (on average) DON'T have sex on their wedding night? A whopping 52 percent. Amazing how the color of napkins at the reception can be prioritized but coitus, for whatever the reason, for so many, isn't.
If you happen to be someone who didn't have sex on your wedding night or, you did but it honestly wasn't as great as you thought it was going to be, the beautiful thing about the present is, while you can't change the past, you can create a bit of a do-over. Get together and plan to have a wedding night do-over. Even if you can't get to the exact location where you spent your first night together, you can recreate the atmosphere with a few decorations and some sexy lingerie. A lot of couples feel much closer after taking a walk down memory lane. By wanting to add more to this particular memory, it can be very sweet, very thoughtful and hot AF too (by the way, even if your wedding night was fab-u-lous, you can still get in on this). Here's to a new year of some of the best sex possible, married folks. ENJOY!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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