Listen, I don't care how long you've been with someone, one of the biggest mistakes that you can ever make (and unfortunately, people do it all of the time) is assume that you know them so well that there is no need to ask them to share their thoughts. I don't care what the topic is. Including sex. For one thing, it takes literally a lifetime to really get to know someone on a profoundly intimate level. A part of the reason why is, if we're doing this life thing correctly, we're going to shift…evolve…change.
That's why I'm always down for married couples pouring themselves a glass of wine, putting on some soft music and asking themselves where they stand with each other when it comes to sex — so that both individuals can gain clarity. So that specific needs can be met. So that everyone involved can feel fully satisfied.
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for this platform entitled, "9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight." While some of the questions are a little similar, where the following eight differ is it's more about getting into the psyche of your partner than inquiring about the act of sex itself. Because since it's long been said that the brain is the biggest sex organ that there is, when two people are on the same page on a mental level, the physical pleasure, more times than not, will come.
1. Do You Think Sex Was Better Before We Got Married or Now?
OK, while virginity is not quite the rainbow unicorn that so many people (and the media) make it out to be, I totally believe the stats that say around 90 percent of folks have had sex prior to marriage. If you add to that the reality that, as I've shared before, something that almost all of the married couples I've worked with have in common is the fact that they've had sex with one another prior to jumping the broom, this first question would not only be a fair one but a super realistic one as well. In fact, one of the complaints that I hear a lot from husbands is sex isn't as frequent as when they were just dating their partner while wives oftentimes say it's not as romantic or intimate. The sad part is, many times, this stuff doesn't come up until a therapist/counselor/life coach asks about it; this means tons of couples are out here internalizing their frustration which is never good when it comes to cultivating a healthy and longstanding sex life.
That's why I definitely think it's important for married couples to ask each other if they thought their sex life — again, with one another — was better before they got married or after. If the answer is "before", the next step is that they hear each other out as to why.
Because let's be real here — a lot of husbands and wives get pretty lazy when it comes to sex after saying "I do". The mentality is kind of "I have you now, so I don't have to put in as much effort" when, really, that couldn't be further from the truth. When someone makes the decision to be with you for the rest of their lives and have sex with only you, that's not the time to get careless, apathetic, idle, inattentive or passive. That is when you REALLY need to step your game up and make sure that your partner is fulfilled and satisfied — for the long haul.
2. Do You Feel Like We Make Sex a Priority?
Y'all, let me apologize in advance for not recalling where I saw this video of a Black married couple where the wife said that she wasn't "giving it up" nearly as much as she did when she and her husband were dating because — and I quote — "It was more of a priority to me then." What in the world, girl? Any time I hear a married person — and I'm gonna be honest, it's usually a wife — say something along those lines, I don't know whether to be mad at their parents, their religious upbringing or their friends who probably spew out that same kind of nonsense because sex is DEFINITELY to be a marital priority. As I say often, even the Bible says that the ONLY time sex should not transpire between a husband and wife is when they have mutually agreed to pray and fast; otherwise, they are asking for all kinds of drama (I Corinthians 7:5).
While there are a lot of different ways to define a priority, my favorite is probably "the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc.; precedence". Yes, sex is supposed to "pull rank" on a lot of things because it is an act that you should only be having with your partner; one that cultivates oneness and intimacy like nothing else can. Listen, if you can prioritize your favorite trash reality show, two hours to scroll through Instagram and time to gossip with your friends on the phone, you can definitely treat sex with your spouse as an act of great privilege. Do you? Ask your husband what he thinks.
3. Have Your Sexual Needs Changed?
A quote that I have shared before is one by a late humor columnist by the name of Richard J. Needham. He once said, "You don't marry one person; you marry three: the person you think they are, the person they are, and the person they are going to become as the result of being." So wise, so wise. And here's the thing — a lot of people get divorced, not because anything "bad" happened; it's because they did not prepare themselves for learning how to be flexible enough to handle their spouse's changes…as they change. This can include the bedroom.
There's a married couple that I know who've been sexually unhealthy, shoot, for more than half of their 20-year marriage. A big part of it is because the bang-bang-bang sex that they both used to enjoy, the wife has now "shifted out of" while the husband refuses to accept this as being a part of their new normal. He doesn't want to compromise which makes her not want to have sex at all which now has them out here, basically sexless (check out "What You Should Do If You Find Yourself In A Sexless Marriage" and "7 Signs You're In A 'Sex Rut' & How To Get Out Of It"). Not good. Not good.
The things that you may have been interested in or down for in your 20s may be very different once you hit your 40s. The way you view sex (check out "How Your Man Can Adjust To Your 'Sexual Growth Spurts'") could be totally different. When this is the case, your sexual needs may no longer be the same. Sometimes partners don't share this with one another because they are concerned about how their spouse will feel; however, it's better to be forthcoming and honest than to hold things in and eventually become resentful because the sex you're having isn't really the kind of sex you're desiring…anymore.
4. Do You Still Feel Emotionally and Spiritually Connected to Me?
When two people feel connected on an emotional and spiritual level, it's hard for intimacy to not be fulfilling on a myriad of different levels. And what are the signs that this is indeed the case? If y'all have read my relationship-related content on this site long enough, you know that I'm a huge fan of the presence of emotional safety between two people (check out "This Is How To Feel Emotionally Safe In Your Relationship") which includes feeling really seen and heard and knowing that you can rely on your partner for encouragement and support. As far as a solid spiritual connection goes (check out "7 Signs You're Spiritually Compatible With Someone"), it's literally about two spirits being in sync — laughing together, feeling free-to-be in each other's presence, understanding that the mutual respect is strong (check out "7 Signs That You Truly Respect Your Spouse (& Your Marriage)"), having conversations are meaningful and, for the most part, believing that you both share the same values and desires for the future.
Even if the two of you were super connected on your wedding day or even a month ago, sometimes life can get in the way and cause there to be some "static in the lines". Almost every married person knows what it's like to be in the midst of having sex with their partner and then feel like their spouse isn't totally present in the moment. If that's what you've been experiencing lately, there's a chance that your hubby either has taken notice or feels the same way. Talking about where you both are emotionally and spiritually can, interestingly enough, cultivate more of an emotional and spiritual bond. So, don't hesitate to do it.
5. Are We Still Having Sex for the Right Reasons?
It might sound odd at first yet, even when it comes to marital intimacy, there is such a thing as doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. And what could be the wrong reason when it comes to why you choose to have sex with your spouse? Two that immediately come to mind is you want to shut them up or you use it as a way to deflect from other issues (check out "Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good"). Remember when I said that sex should be a priority in marriage? I absolutely meant that. But if it feels more like an obligation or a chore, that is not how it should be for you. So, if there is some level of codependency or it feels more like a burden to you yet you are doing it anyway to keep your partner happy, at the very least, bring this to their attention. If you can't find a solution together, consider going to couple's therapy/counseling. You deserve to enjoy sex not just "have" it. And if you're married to a truly good man, he will wholeheartedly agree.
6. Do You Think I Initiate Enough?
OK, so I don't know if this is gonna be a "duh" for y'all or not but there are quite a few studies out here that state couples who have more sex have one particular thing in common — the woman initiates more. No, not more than men. What it means is she makes a point to initiate, period. While we're here, I bet you also won't gasp at the fact that a top complaint that a lot of husbands give me as it relates to sex is they feel like they are the one who makes the first move, most of the time. When I look across at the wife and ask her why, I usually hear something along the lines of, "I don't really think about sex until he brings it up" or "I'm just used to him doing it."
No one feels wanted and desired if their partner isn't making them feel that way. Initiating sex is just one way to make that happen. I'm telling you that it can be super enlightening to ask your partner if you initiate sex enough and then wait — without getting defensive — for their answer. Once they give it to you, be open to asking why they feel that way as well. That answer right there could take your sex life to a whole 'nother level…if you stay open to it.
7. What Do You Wish I Would Do More Often?
You know what I roll my eyes about often? This ridiculous notion that certain acts should only happen on special occasions. What in the world? For one thing, tomorrow is not promised, so if folks only get to experience certain positions or activities on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, that means y'all are being super presumptuous about the gift of time. Not only that but, just imagine how many more married couples would be fully sexually satisfied if their partner was all about trying new things, checking off sex-themed bucket lists and making every time feel like the first time as much as possible. Sometimes, we don't know what our partner's favorite thing is unless we ask them. And I promise you, that you will see nothing short of a Cheshire cat (in the best way possible, of course) when you do.
8. How Can We Get (or Stay) in Sync?
In sync. I like that term a lot. One definition of it is "they match or happen together as they should". As we bring this to a close, it can never hurt to ask your man if he feels like, when it comes to bedroom activity, that things happen together as they should. If he says "yes", follow that up with what does he think you both can do to make it stay that way because things like tight schedules, kids, busy weekends, flip-flop sleeping patterns and doing everything at night BUT gettin' some can definitely cause you to get all out of sync, if you're not careful.
At the end of the day, a healthy relationship is about clear and consistent communication and sex is one of the most intimate — and pleasurable — forms of communication that there is. These eight questions are not about interrogating, being hypercritical or passing judgment or blame. It's about learning how to communicate better…so that you can communicate better. Now get off of here, so y'all can have a lil' chat. #wink
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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. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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