Oftentimes, when I'm asked to list three things that aren't discussed nearly enough in marriage, I typically say something along the lines of 1) people who are hypocrites in their relationship in the sense of expecting from their spouse what they aren't prepared to be or give themselves; 2) folks who don't make friendship a main focal point in their relationship with their partner; and 3) individuals who don't get that, just like there are "seasons of sex" in long-term relationships, there are also, what I call "sexual growth spurts" that individuals experience too.
An example that immediately comes to mind is a couple I know who are basically sexless at the moment. A big part of the reason why is because the husband is arrogant. Oh, and lazy. What I mean by that is, he truly believes that since he is "packin'", that his wife should automatically be satisfied. Their situation isn't all his fault, tho. She admits that when they were dating—and even during the season of them living together—"bang, bang, bang" sex (you know, the kind that consists of subpar foreplay, not much intimacy and next-to-nothing afterplay) was cool. However, as she's gotten older and matured, that simply doesn't work, for her, anymore. He thinks she's trippin'. She thinks he's selfish. There is clearly a huge disconnect. It's an entire mess. Unfortunately, it's also not rare.
It's been heavily reported that 15-20 percent of marriages are considered to be sexless (this means that the couples in them have sex less than 10-15 times a year). But I'm not sure how much it is explored that a part of this could be due to the fact that one person is in one place sexually while another is someplace entirely different; that one person has had some personal epiphanies while the other has not…at least not yet. And, if that is indeed the case, if it is true that one partner has indeed encountered a sexual growth spurt while their partner has not, what should they both do? If the "growing one" is you, here are some suggestions to hopefully get your sex life back on track.
Get Clear About Where and How You’ve Changed
I'd have to say that about 70 percent of the time, while I'm in a session with a couple, I'm reminded of why poor communication is a leading cause of divorce. The reason why I say that is because, sometimes it can take hours' worth of meetings, just to get to the root of what their issue is. For instance, whenever one partner shares how "over it" they are, I ask why, and they say something along the lines of, "I'm just not the same person anymore" and then I inquire, "In what way?", you should see the look on their face when they can't figure out how to explain what they mean. Well shoot, if you don't know how you're different, how is your partner supposed to adjust to your changes and how can I help to facilitate that shift?
If you're doing this life thing correctly, you're supposed to be ever-growing and evolving, yes, even sexually. But if you don't know how to convey in what ways you are doing that, there's not much anyone can do to help you out; your partner included.
That's why, the first thing that I recommend is taking out a few hours to do some serious sex journaling. Reflect on how you were when you first became sexually active, when you first got with your partner, and the way you are now. What was it about how you were 10-15 years ago that may be totally different in this moment? Also, what about your relationship with your partner—both inside and outside of the bedroom—has changed to the point where your sexual needs and wants have transitioned too? Clarity can help to bring forth productive conversations between you and your spouse, which is always a good thing.
Express What Your Sexual Needs Are Now
There are a lot of conceited partners out here in the world. Oftentimes, that conceit translates into being patronizing and condescending as hell. Listen, just because you may be in a different headspace when it comes to sex, that doesn't make your partner "less than". It doesn't necessarily or automatically mean that you've "elevated" either. It simply means that your needs are different now and so you desire different things in order to be sexually fulfilled. That's only fair. But as you make strides to convey this point to your partner, it's important to not approach them in a way that makes them feel like you are somehow "above" them.
That is what I had to tell the wife of the couple that I mentioned earlier. Just because she wants more foreplay than she used to, doesn't make her husband a bad lover all of a sudden. The reality is that she's older than she used to be; menopausal too. Her hormones have shifted and that oftentimes requires more foreplay in order to get fully aroused. For a few months, she decided that the way to bring this up to her husband was to tell him that his approach to sex was "immature". What partner wants to hear that? Plus, it's not even true. Her body is different now. Full stop. Simple as that. Her sex life now needs to meet her where her body is.
That's just one example, but I think you get my point. A good lover is going to want their partner to be pleased, even if what it takes to do that is very different from what they are used to. But the only way that a lover can remain great is by receiving clear, concise and kind communication from their partner. Have the talk. Just make sure to deliver where you're currently at in a way that still makes your partner feel good about himself, the relationship and your sex life.
Accept That Sometimes We Grow At Different Times—and in Different Ways
Something that I really respect about healthy married couples who've been together a decade or more is the fact that it represents what it means to stay together, even if, as individuals, you're growing at different paces. In fact, I think that's what a lot of couples who break-up mean when they say, "We've grown apart"; for whatever the reason, they weren't able to master how to find the balance between remaining committed as a unit while still allowing each other to flourish as individuals…especially if it's in different ways and at different times.
Hormonal changes. Spiritual evolutions. Books. Therapy. Practices like orgasmic meditation and erotic self-focus. Time. All of these things can play a direct role in you coming to a new place about what works for you sexually and what doesn't.
What's important to remember, during your own sexual growth spurts, is your partner may be in a totally different place than you—and there is nothing wrong with that. A successful relationship is all about compromise. It's important to accept that while he may need to adjust to your "new normal", you may also need to be open to the fact that certain aspects of your sex life with him, to him, should remain the same.
Be Lovingly Patient
As far as relationships go, the word "patient" is, hands down, one of my favorite words to apply in sessions. While most of us automatically associate it with waiting, the definition that I like is, "bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like". In the context of this particular article, let's go with the words "annoyance" and "delay". When you have recently encountered a sexual growth spurt, it's important that you bear with the annoyances and possible delays of your partner learning how to adjust to what you now need without complaining or getting angry. Whew!
Here's an example. A woman told me that, for years, she hated receiving oral sex (I know, right? What in the world?!). But something that therapy revealed to her was she associated cunnilingus with a guy from her past who left her devastated. See, it wasn't so much the act that she didn't like; it was that she didn't want to "open herself up" in that way to someone else. Not receiving cunnilingus was basically a wall that she built to keep emotional pain away. Once she came into that revelation, she basically started demanding it from her partner. Meanwhile, he is not a big fan of oral himself so, what used to be a mutual understanding for them (it didn't need to happen), it had now become a point of contention.
No one should feel pressured into doing something, simply because their partner up and changes their mind about it. Just like you've had to get used to your areas of growth, your partner will have to do the same. If he cares about you, he will. But in the meantime, meet him halfway and be patient. Don't complain. Don't get angry. Just help him get used to what your needs now are.
Remember That Good Sex Is Always About Establishing a True Connection
When it comes to sex, no matter what page you're on vs. your partner, the key is to make sure that you're still in the same book (hopefully, the same chapter too). And hopefully, what it's based on is making sure that an emotional connection continues to transpire. Sexual wants and even sexual technique both play a very essential role in establishing a truly lasting and fulfilling sex life. So long as both of you, both feel like you're in this thing—which, in this article, I mean the bed—together and you both want to please one another, the sexual growth spurts that come along the way will figure themselves out.
Life is all about growth. Bedroom action is not exempt from this fact. Keep growing, sis. Just make sure to keep your partner abreast, lovingly so, along the way.
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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 (email@example.com) 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.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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What Is 'Vaginal Laxity' And How Can You Effectively Treat It?
If you’re either not yet (roughly) in your 40s or you’ve never given birth to a child, let me just tell you that something that’s probably coming your way that you probably never gave much thought to is some form of vaginal laxity.
Although I’ve been able to avoid it until, eh, the last several months or so, now that it likes to show up and out on occasion, I have definitely made it my purpose and mission to figure out how to get it under some level of control — not because I take issue with aging (I don’t); it’s just that, sneezing too hard and feeling a drip or two has never been a part of my life, so why start now, chile.
Yeah, vaginal laxity isn’t really something that a lot of women are running to the water cooler to discuss. Oh, but believe you me, it is something that affects quite a few women (around 40 percent self-report it; others prefer to “suffer” in silence).
So, just so you won’t find yourself freakin’ out or feeling some form of shame or embarrassment should it even come knocking on your own door (uh, so to speak), let’s take out a few moments to discuss what vaginal laxity is and how you can (relatively) easily treat it — even from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
What Exactly Is Vaginal Laxity All About?Giphy
Even though we all pretty much use the word “vagina” to address our entire genitalia, that’s not actually what it is. Technically, your vagina is a tube that connects your vulva (the outer part of your vaginal region) to your cervix (the neck of your uterus). Your vagina is how penises can penetrate you, and vaginal births are able to transpire.
As far as the walls of your vagina go, they consist of muscular tissue, mucus membranes, fibrous material, and collagen. Your vagina also has pleats of tissue called vaginal rugae; this is what makes it easier for your vagina to expand, whether it’s during sex or when you’re delivering a baby.
As we age, the potency of our vaginal rugae weakens. That’s because we start to lose estrogen and collagen. And whether it’s due to aging or giving birth, sometimes our vaginal walls can become weaker as well; when that happens, it’s oftentimes referred to as vaginal laxity.
So, what are some of the telltale signs of vaginal laxity (beyond what I just said)? Good question:
- Urinary continence
- Less vaginal lubrication
- Pain/discomfort during intercourse
- Less sensation during intercourse
- More vaginal “air sounds” during sex and/or exercise (because your walls are a bit looser)
- A lower libido altogether
And what if you’re slowly yet surely seeing some of this popping up in your own life? My two cents are to not ignore it because, if it is indeed vaginal laxity, it’s not really something that will just…go away. You will need to book an appointment with your doctor to discuss with them what is going on so that they can test your hormone levels, do a vaginal exam, and (if you do have it) explore some treatable options with you.
Options like what? That is also a good question.
Why Do Some People Treat It with Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgical Procedures?Giphy
Okay, so here’s the deal — if you are indeed “diagnosed” (I put that in quotes because many medical professionals say that vaginal laxity isn’t the easiest thing in the world to actually diagnose), you will need to go through some form of vaginal rejuvenation whether it’s surgical, laser or opting for some DIY approaches. Let’s touch on some of the professional options first.
Vaginoplasty: Although this term is being associated more and more with transwomen, it originally was created to help women to reconstruct their vagina (again, the actual tube) if there was significant damage done following vaginal childbirth.
Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation: This is when lasers are used to strengthen the walls of your vagina. A popular one is FemTouch, although I recently read an article about how the FDA should really take a deeper look into this procedure due to the potential risks that come along with it (like burning your vagina due to the intensity of the laser frequencies).
RF (Radio Frequency) Treatment: This is a skin-tightening procedure that consists of heating up your vaginal walls in order for it to create more collagen, elastin, and skin cells.
Potential risks aside, from what I’ve researched, it was hard to nail down an exact price for any of these. What I can tell you is that you’re easily gonna need a couple of thousand dollars to get the kind of results that you are looking for — and that’s on the low end of things.
What Are Some At-Home Remedies for Vaginal Laxity?Giphy
Listen, I don’t know about y’all, but nothing in me likes the thought of clipping, potentially burning, or draining my bank account if I can at all avoid it. Thankfully, there are some things that you can try at home (at least first) that are safer, cheaper, and that many physicians say are just as effective.
Kegels. If there’s one word that you’ve probably heard a billion times at this point, it’s kegels. They are exercises that help to strengthen your pelvic floor walls, which can definitely help to reduce incontinence and, as a bonus, intensify your orgasms too.
Squats. Usually, when squats are brought up, it’s in the context of creating a rounder butt. However, your vaginal walls can benefit from them as well. That’s because by focusing on strengthening your legs and working out your hips, it tightens your pelvic floor at the same time. So clearly, squats are a win all the way around.
Yoga. Last month, we published the article “5 Postpartum Yoga Poses To Reengage Your Pelvic Floor That Are Better Than Kegels.” I’m thinking that is pretty self-explanatory, although I do believe that it should also go on record that yoga also helps to reduce stress — and since stress can jack up your hormone levels and that can result in vaginal dryness, well…yeah, yoga is definitely something that you should consider getting into if you want your vagina to be “tight and right.” A site by the name of Wellness Travel Diaries even did you a solid by publishing “15 Powerful Yoga On Youtube Classes With Black Teachers.” #givethanks
Phytoestrogens. If your doctor confirmed that your estrogen levels are steadily decreasing, while you can do some form of estrogen therapy (definitely speak with your physician first), there are also foods that are rich in estrogen; they’re called “phytoestrogens” because they are a plant-based form of estrogen. Some phytoestrogens include cashews, garlic, peaches, broccoli, dried fruit, berries, and red wine.
Vitamin C-Enriched Foods. Remember how I said that vaginal laxity can lead to less collagen too? Well, since vitamin C helps to stimulate collagen production, also consume foods that are filled with this particular nutrient. Some that top the list include bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, white potatoes, citrus fruits, parsley, and strawberries.
Less Sugar. It really is wild how delicious processed sugar is when intel just keeps on revealing how bad it is for our health (especially when not consumed in extreme moderation). As far as your vagina goes, not only does the bad bacteria in it like to feast on sugar (which can lead to a chronic yeast infection), but it also has the ability to weaken collagen fibers. Yep, that’s why a lot of people see premature fine lines and wrinkles; they’ve been eating too much sugar!
Weight Management. Weight puts added pressure on the body, and your pelvic area is certainly not exempt. One way to avoid doing this to yourself is exercising and staying at a healthy weight. Your vaginal walls will be so much stronger for it.
Plenty of water. Every part of your body needs plenty of fluids; that’s because your body is mostly made up of water (reportedly, somewhere around 60 percent). When it comes to your vagina, specifically, consuming water helps to flush out toxins, reduce dry and itchy vulvar skin and, it can help to keep the natural juices down their flowing so that a lack of lubrication isn’t as much of an issue.
Again, vaginal laxity isn’t something that gets us excited as far as getting older goes — yet now that you know more about it and how to handle it, hopefully, you’ll approach it with grace and ease. Hmph. I know I plan to.
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