Now that we have talked about building intimacy in our relationships, this week’s conversation is all about how to get your partner in the mood. I wanted to get a man’s point of view on this topic so I asked my good friend Dr. Alduan Tartt to provide some insight on how we can help men understand what it takes to get us in the mood.
Dr. Tartt is a psychologist, author and motivational speaker devoted to healing personal relationships. You may have heard him sharing his perspective on The Ring Formula, relationships, and more on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, CNN, HLN, and a long list of other media outlets.
Now I know you might have been expecting this post to be a sexy list of ideas of how to get your partner in the mood. And quite honestly, so was I! (Don’t worry— if you’re one of my email friends, you’ll be getting that sexy list to your inbox this weekend.) But as I talked to Dr. Tartt, I realized a few things:
- Getting in the mood for sex starts in your mind
- You need to talk about what gets you in the mood wayyy before it’s actually time to have sex
I told y’all we were going to dive deep and I wasn’t kidding. I want this series to help us make a real shift in our relationships. And I’m realizing that a lot of what will lead to more sex happens BEFORE you get in the bedroom. That said here are 8 not-so-sexy-but-absolutely-necessary conversations you need to have with your partner to get in the mood for sex.
1. Talk about how you will share household chores
After a day of playing the role of housekeeper, chef, chauffeur, and businesswoman, sometimes I’m just too exhausted to play the vixen in the bedroom too. But how do we get our partners to understand that a little help around the house and with the kids would a go a long way in getting us in the mood? Dr. Tartt suggests having a conversation about the division of household chores. “When you have that conversation with men and they understand the end game, I can’t tell you how many men are cool with doing chores,” says Dr. Tartt. “Because men are problem solvers. If you give us the power to solve the problem, we’ll take our daughters to girl scouts, we’ll drop the kids off at choir rehearsal, we’ll do whatever we need to do to get to the end game.”
TRY THIS: Talk to your partner about specific things that he can do to help out with the kids and other household chores. Explain that the shorter your to-do list, the more likely you are to be in the mood for sex.
2. Talk about your priorities
Being too tired is a huge reason that couples have less sex. But Dr. Tartt says that shouldn’t be the case. “We should not be too tired on a consistent basis to make love,” says Dr. Tartt. “If your relationship ends and you start dating again, you are not going to use that excuse with someone new. You’re going to rise to the occasion.” (TRUTH!) He also says that we need to put our relationships and our families above our careers. “We have to set up our careers to actually give us a chance to have enough energy to spend quality and intimate time not only with our wives and husbands, but with our kids, our friends, and our families.” I promise when we die, we are not going to say, ‘Man, I wish I would have put in another hour of overtime.’ ”
TRY THIS: Talk about ways you might be able to limit the amount of hours that you work or how you can alter your work schedule to spend more time together. Dr. Tartt also says we should schedule more romantic getaways to an island destination, a bed and breakfast, or a spa to change the culture and add excitement to the relationship. “It’s hard not to be in the mood in Hawaii,” says Dr. Tartt.
3. Talk about what relieves your stress
Last week, we talked about how stress is a desire killer. We spend so much time working, taking care of our kids and everyone else that we don’t have anything left to take care of ourselves. “We don’t even have time to feel sexy. It becomes chore number 10 in a day,” says Dr. Tartt. “That turns a lot of men and women off because they realize it’s not something spontaneous, or something that has a lot of energy or excitement. It’s kinda like hurry up and get this over with so I can get some rest.”
In addition to taking steps to decrease your stress level, there are also ways that your partner can help you de-stress. Dr. Tartt suggests having a conversation about what relieves your stress. Do you need a few minutes of quiet time when you get home? Maybe you need to watch something funny, or take a shower. “If we’re not on the same page and you try to initiate lovemaking before I’m ready, you can see how that can lead to a sense of rejection, where if you just waited 15 more minutes… we’re good,” explains Dr. Tartt.
TRY THIS: Have a conversation about what helps you relax. Is it a shoulder or foot rub, or maybe it’s enjoying a quiet cup of coffee before your day begins. Together you can come up with ways to add these de-stressors to your daily routine. Also, try carving out a few minutes each day to “do you” even if it’s just some quiet time in the bathroom. Once I was so desperate for some alone time that I actually hid under my bed!
4. Talk about what stimulates you
Earlier, I mentioned that sex starts in the mind. And most times a thoughtful gesture like a “thinking about you” text, an unexpected phone call during the day, or a gentle touch when you get home are all simple romantic gestures that get your mind in the mood for sex. Dr. Tartt believes it is very important to let your partner know how this type of foreplay stimulates you. “If there’s foreplay before you get into the actual act, that would make a lot of women and men ready, or “ready-er” because you are speaking the same love language,” explains Dr. Tartt.
TRY THIS: Dr. Tartt suggests that you have a conversation to rate where you are in terms of intimacy and satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. Talk about things you would like to do and what you need to stay stimulated and interested in the relationship. Dr. Tartt says you should have this conversation every 90 days.
5. Talk about your fantasies
According to Dr. Tartt, research shows that the average person has a new erotic fantasy every 90 days. You and your partner need to be able to communicate openly about your deepest fantasies and desires or they might end up being shared with someone else. “When you see people having affairs and on facebook doing certain things, it’s not because they’re bad people, it’s because they’re searching for their new fantasy,” says Dr. Tartt. “If they don’t feel like they can talk to their partner, if they don’t have that open language, you can see how that can become a problem.” (Dr. Tartt dropped so many jewels on this subject, I’ll have to share them with you in another post!) Talking specifically about what turns you on, understanding each other’s love language, and experimenting with new things can be enough to evoke new excitement into the relationship.
TRY THIS: Dr. Tartt recommends getting a copy of the book, What Makes Love Last. The book has a list of questions that will encourage you and your partner to really talk about what you like and what you need to keep you sexually satisfied. The book asks questions like: Would you like for me to touch you more slowly or faster? What type of foreplay do you like best? What doesn’t work for you? “When we start asking those types of questions, then we know what to do,” says Dr. Tartt. “But how many couples talk like that?” I know we don’t, do you?
But then I was curious to know what to do if you partner isn’t interested in trying anything new. Or what if it’s you that believes it is too freaky and taboo to indulge in these sorts of things? Then what? Dr. Tartt says it’s all in how you approach the conversation. “When you say, ‘Hey, would you rather me tell you how I feel, or would you rather I keep secrets from you?’ he or she will say ‘No, I don’t want you to keep secrets, I want you to keep it real.’ “ Dr. Tartt continues, “Then you’re able to talk about it as a couple.” Ultimately, you have to decide if you want to keep doing things the same old way or if you are open to trying something new and different. Even if you don’t agree, at least the subject will be out in the open. “It’s not what you talk about that is going to kill your relationship…it’s what you don’t talk about,” says Dr. Tartt. Wow! Let’s read that again—It’s not what you talk about that is going to kill your relationship…it’s what you don’t talk about.
6. Talk Minus Technology
Between the TV, the iPad, and our smart phones in the bedroom, I feel like technology has become the third person in our relationship. You too? Surely this behavior can’t be helping our sex lives or our relationships. Dr. Tartt agrees that time spent on technology is time spent actively ignoring time to connect with our partners. “When we have this habit of spending more time with our phones and work and emails than one another, you are setting your partner up to get real human interaction somewhere else,” Dr. Tartt says.
TRY THIS: Dr. Tartt recommends setting aside 30 minutes each day to unplug and spend time lovemapping with your partner.
What is lovemapping you ask? My new favorite word! I just like saying it. It’s so intriguing, isn’t it? Ok, so back to the definition. Dr. Tartt says, “Love mapping is what you did when you first met—you would email, you would call on your lunch hour, you would ask about dreams, places he wanted to travel, funniest moments—all those early conversations in the relationship,” explains Dr. Tartt. “The research shows that you must continue to have those conversations regularly to keep the relationship connected.” But after so many years together, I feel like I’ve heard all the stories and know just about everything about him, right? Wrong. Dr. Tartt explained that over the years, ambitions change, dreams change, and the answer to the questions that I knew years ago might have a different answer today. “There are a lot of couples where their best friend knows more about them than their husbands or wives,” says Dr. Tartt. “Why? Because they are not talking like this—which is why you hear couples say, ‘I love you but I don’t feel like I know you.’ “ We stop talking to our partners and don’t realize that what they want in life has changed as they have evolved.
7. Talk about how to validate each other
How often does your partner compliment you or thank you for supporting him? Probably not enough according to Dr. Tartt. “This is the main thing that men do not do enough.” Dr. Tartt says, “We have to share fondness and admiration verbally, we have to compliment our wives.” Men need to be validated as well. “The number one complaint from men is that they feel underappreciated in their relationships,” says Dr. Tartt. Both men and women need to hear how they are loved and appreciated in order to feel good about the relationship.
On a personal note, about a year or so ago, I decided to stop focusing on what my husband did that got on my nerves and focus all my attention on all of the things that I loved about him. Turns out that list more than outweighed the things that annoyed me. And when I focused on what I loved, I felt closer to him and more attracted to him. And because I was more attracted to him, he was more attracted to me. Choosing to view him through a different lens and letting him know how much I appreciate him has definitely make our relationship stronger.
TRY THIS: Have a conversation about how important it is to fill each other’s buckets with compliments and kind words on a regular basis. Make an effort to compliment or thank your partner for at least one thing every day.
8. Talk about other reasons that you might not be in the mood for sex
If you’ve tried all of the above and you or your partner are still not in the mood for sex, something else might be going on. While it can be tough to have an honest conversation that might lead to hurt feelings, Dr. Tartt says you should try the 5:1 ratio approach to ease into a difficult topic. “For every negative, there has to be 5 positives,” says Dr. Tartt. “So you could say, ‘Hey, you do a great job with the kids, you make sure that I’m taken care of, our home is a place of peace, you’re a life coach for my dreams, I appreciated the time we spend together. But something that’s important to me is fitness and health and one of the things that would take my physical attraction to you from a 9 to a 10 (notice I said from a 9 to a 10) is if you could take off a little weight. And then you can tell me where I am body wise.’ “ Couples that stay together have these kinds of real conversations. “But if you’re not talking about it, you can’t fix it,” says Dr. Tartt.
A dip in you or your partner’s libido does not mean you aren’t still attracted to each other. Unbeknownst to you, there are health issues that could be putting a damper on your desire. Lack of sex drive is a side effect for many medications that treat pre-existing health conditions like depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
TRY THIS: Have a conversation about what’s really causing you or your partner not to want sex. Talk to your gynecologist about any discomfort or changes in your body and your low libido. Make sure your partner does the same. Once you are sure that it’s not a biological issue, seek the help of a therapist to get to the root of what’s really going on. “Couples have this idea that they are going to be blamed or made to feel like they’re doing something wrong,” explains Dr. Tartt. “Couples therapists don’t take sides. You come in as a team and we talk about how to build up the team.”
Dr. Tartt says that if we have these conversations, lovemaking will take care of itself. So start talking!
And remember, If you ever have a question that you want to ask me or any of the experts, feel free to post it on my facebook page. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you can email me and I’ll post it on the page so that you can benefit from the experience of the group as well as our experts.