Foreplay is a 24 hour a day affair for most women, in that it is everything that happens between partners during the day. This is often difficult for a man to understand. For a woman, foreplay begins when the couple awakens in the morning. From that moment on, everything her partner says and everything her partner does affects how she will feel sexually throughout the day. It is absolutely true that the majority of women need romance.
Every survey on record supports these findings. According to Ann Landers' survey of 90,000 women, 72% prefer to be held closely and treated tenderly rather than have actual intercourse. "If you read poetry to me or take a walk with me, holding hands, I may have oral sex with you," many women say. But, as one male asked, "What does poetry have to do with oral sex?"
Women need help changing roles required of them throughout the course of a day. Since romance does help a woman feel loved, and feeling loved helps her feel sexual, there are numerous steps couples can take to create romance in their relationship.
Case in Point
One excellent example is the case of Mary.
"Jeeze, Mary. I can't believe you've overdrawn our checking account again! Don't you keep track of the checks you write? Don't you know this will cost us money? Jeeze."
The deep voice emanating from the small woman sitting in the chair opposite me startled me at first, and then made me laugh. Mary was imitating the way her husband spoke to her that made her feel infuriated and infantile.
"Roger makes me feel so incompetent. He is always yelling at me about something, and then, later, in our bedroom, wonders why I don't want to have sex with him. I certainly don't feel very sensual when he hollers at me like that. He is always upset over bills and money. Doesn't he realize I don't make mistakes on purpose? I'm busy too. I do my best. What makes him have this power over me?"
Of course, Mary was giving Roger the power over her feelings. No one person has the power to make someone else feel something. Overdrawing the checking account is something anyone can learn to control by recording the checks more carefully. Mary continued to describe other incidents that left her feeling inadequate.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
"I can do nothing right! If I make pasta for dinner, he had it for lunch. If I get the house clean but the kids' toys are scattered all over the family room, he yells that I am not a good housekeeper. If I have a meeting in the evening and I ask Roger to put our two toddlers to bed, he complains because he has had a long hard day at work. What does he think I do all day?"
Change of Attitude
Men are very different than women in this way. Men's sexual desire seems so much less dependent on outside influences, whereas women respond more strongly to the atmosphere around them. A woman has a hundred things that need to be "right" before she can have sex. Very little seems to detract a man from wanting to make love. Because many couples are unaware of the discrepancies between men and women, ongoing communication between two partners becomes very important.
It can be very empowering for couples if each partner tries to think of love as a verb. Something you do. Not something you get. When partners love each other, it is natural to want to please a mate, as well as wish to be pleased in return. but, as long a a partner's behavior is a condition for whether or not to give love, that love cannot be given freely. Mary needs to try giving her affection unconditionally because she loves Roger.
Although it may be difficult for Mary to think positive thoughts about Roger when he's criticizing her, she can try to block out his words and overcome her negative feelings with positive ones. Mary needs to show Roger her love in spite of what he is saying. This will probably change Roger's attitude and behavior toward her almost immediately.
Roger needs to also love Mary unconditionally -- whether or not the house is clean and the check book is balanced. Only through this unconditional love will the lines of communication be opened.
Couples can drastically improve their relationship by putting their love into action. Once they do this, everything else seems to follow more easily
Recapture The Magic
Mary should tell Roger how she remembers those wonderful qualities about him. She is certain to think of many others as she recaptures their courtship and the early years of their marriage. Mary and Roger can spend time together alone, reminiscing about when they first made love or how they acquired some of their more "interesting" pieces of furniture. Sharing such memories over a glass of wine after the children are in bed seems to work for many couples
Roger is worried about money. Mary can make a serious effort not to run up bills or overdraw her checking account. Perhaps she could ask Roger to help her manage her accounting more effectively. She could suggest they set aside a few minutes on Thursday evenings, after the kids are in bed, to go over the household bills.
If improving Mary's budgetary skills is too stressful a task for them to manage together at this time, Mary could go to a financial advisor for an hour or two on her own and learn how to better handle money. Since it is her problem, she will have to find the solution, unless she wants Roger to go on yelling about her mismanagement.
It is much easier for a partner to overlook a mate's faults when that person is working hard to overcome them. This couple's house is not in perfect order. Whose is? Priorities need to be determined. What is more important to this couple? A spotless home with no energy left for joy and sexual abandon because the wife is too exhausted at the end of the day? Or, a mess in the family room as a couple races to get the kids to bed so the partners can nestle between the sheets in disorderly fashion in their bedroom?
Life is a series of choices. Mary can explain to Roger that when he constantly criticizes her, he spoils her appetite for sex. She can tell him she wants to be with him and ask him to save his criticism for a note he could write and leave on the kitchen counter for her to read after her morning cup of coffee.
Mary and Roger could also keep a secret sex chart for each other. If he helps put the kids to bed, he gets a star. His prize could be a special sexual toy, an erotic video, or a video camera so that they can make their own. If Mary gets the star for something she has done that Roger wants, her prize might be a beautiful piece of sexy lingerie, some perfume, or, her back rubbed... either way, both receive the reward. Everyone want to be appreciated. Partners need to instigate ideas to show that they treasure each other in ways that are fun and exciting for both people in the relationship.
Mary can ask Roger to call her during the day. They can plan what they will do together when Roger gets home. Mary should tell him she needs to feel his care and concern. Mary needs for Roger to make her feel like she is his number one priority. It is important for Roger to handle his customers with the greatest sensitivity in his business relationships. Mary can remind Roger that she is his most important client in his personal life. Mary should let him know (with a twinkle in her eye) that she wants to buy what he has to sell! She could also suggest that a little help with the housework goes further in making her want to please him in the bedroom than all of his lectures about her shortcomings.
When Mary realized how much fun this could all be, she was able to tell Roger what she needed (and didn't need) in the spirit of play. Roger loved the zest she showed in wanting to please him. He respected the fact that Mary did not want to be criticized if she fell short of his expectations. It did not take long for Roger to realize that caring and praise go further in the bedroom than demands and criticism ever could.
When a woman is able to tell her mate what she wants him to know both clearly and lovingly, they will be better able to live a life filled with love, exuberance, and mutual satisfaction. Sex will become an enjoyable expectation for them both.
It Was Better In The Backseat - How To Recharge Your Sex Life
by Sherry Lehman.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Adams Media. Copyright.
About The Author
Sherry Lehman is a certified Sex Therapist and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, operating a private practice in Cleveland, Ohio.