DISCLAIMER: I don't speak for all women, we're all different. But I speak from my experience and expectations. Thank you.
As of this past June, I have been married for 19 years. My husband is truly my best friend. I confide in him, laugh with him, complain to (and sometimes about) him. We lament the time we spend apart (new job has me working a lot of overnights) and try to make the most of the time we get together.
But something's missing. It's not love. I definitely love my husband. It's sex. Oh sure, we have it. Once in a while. When I initiate it. And let's face it. For many men, "Let's have sex" is all the foreplay they need. Those three words has my husband naked and on the bed before I can even finish the sentence.
You know what? I'm tired of that being the way it happens. I'm tired of being the initiator and I'm tired of "Let's have sex" being the only foreplay we have.
A few years ago I delved into Orthodox Judaism (my family is very happy that I've done a complete 180 and am now atheist, but that's neither here nor there). One of the rituals Orthodox Jewish women partake in is a monthly trip to the Mikvah. A soul cleansing experience that focuses solely on the woman. You go and take a bath or a shower (you should take a bath, some women do this at home then rinse off at the Mikvah, some take a nice hot bath right there). You do all sorts of self care, clean every possible part of your body, your ears, nose, finger and toe-nails. Everywhere. Then you get checked by the (female) attendant who ensures you have nothing that will get between you and the water (no stray hairs or dirt under your nails) then you get in the Mikvah, dunk a couple of times and say a prayer. It's really quite beautiful, even if you don't believe in god and don't want to say a prayer, it's a very relaxing spa-like experience. For Orthodox Jewish women, it's a time to renew sexual relations with their husbands (there is a reason cervical cancer is lower in Orthodox communities, by the way. Orthodox women abstain from sex from the time their period commences to the time they dunk in the Mikvah). And when you return home from the Mikvah, your husband is supposed to do... something to make your return relaxing, enjoyable and a little romantic. Of my entire Orthodox experiment, that is what I miss. That little romantic interlude when I would return home from the Mikvah. Hubby would have some little treat—chocolate covered strawberries, cheese and crackers, wine or beer. We'd sit together, and eat, and talk or even watch a little TV, things would progress, because we were both anticipating what would happen, and off to the bedroom we'd go. I miss that. So, guys, here's a hint, and a few things to consider with your partners.
1. Just because "Let's have sex" is your foreplay, does not mean it's ours.
Seriously. Wine us. Dine us. Give us back rubs or massages. Don't expect it to be sex every time, but maybe try initiating it for once in a way that isn't "hey, I'm horny." Little things mean a lot. They really, really do. We like to feel appreciated. I'm sure men like to feel appreciated to. I know my hubby does. Foreplay is so, so, so important. It's a way to connect before the actual act of having sex. It's fun, it's sexy. It feels so fucking good!
2. Learn one of the hardest skills a human can learn
Reading body language. No one I know is a perfect reader of body language. I know I miss cues all. The. Time. That said, make an effort guys! If I come home from a really long day (I'm not only working full time, I'm also in school full time, it's a huge load) and am complaining about my back or shoulders being sore, I might actually just want a back rub or shoulder massage to work out the kinks. I may also be feeling kinky and want that massage to lead somewhere. Language is a huge thing. Both verbal and non-verbal. Of course, you might need to use verbal language to say "no, thanks, just a massage tonight" to make sure the message gets across. Even after 19 years of marriage, we still need to verbally communicate some of our needs. And like I said, I love my husband. But sometimes, even blatantly telling him my needs goes over his head.
3. You know that video about tea representing consent?
Watch that. It still applies, even if you're married. Consent is a big thing. Some people think "I'm married, I'm entitled to have sex when I want it". No. You're not. Rape is rape, even if you're married. Consent is important. And if you're interested in trying something new, BDSM, a threesome, swinging, checking in with each other is still important. Are you both okay? Is this what you want and where you want to be? Sex should not be painful—physically or emotionally. Check in with your partner (yes, this goes both ways).
4. For Pete's sake! COMMUNICATE!
I don't know who Pete is, but for his sake COMMUNICATE. I'm still working on this with my husband. I'm trying to teach him to communicate while I try to communicate my needs. This goes back to the verbal/non-verbal communication a couple of points above. But in this case, I mean communicate OUTSIDE of the bedroom. For example, a few days ago I mentioned to my husband that even though I'm atheist and don't go to the Mikvah anymore, I miss the days when he'd have that little snack and drink set up. I mean, he'd even have the bedroom set up with candles and lubes, and oils for massage. It was really fucking romantic. It's obviously something I'm going to have to reiterate a few more times before he really hears it. I blame stress for that. He's had a very stressful few months at work so I know he's preoccupied.
5. Don't mistake preoccupation with lack of interest
Have you communicated your desires to your partner? Have you initiated sex in more romantic ways than saying "let's have sex"? Are you finding he (or she, we're very accepting in here) isn't picking up on your subtle and not-so-subtle cues? Have you practically hit them over the head with a two-by-four, and they still don't get it? Take a step back and look at what's going on in their lives. Stress is a real libido killer. Is your partner stressed at work? At home because bills are due but the money isn't there? Is there a personal issue they're dealing with? This goes both ways. Sometimes my husband forgets that I deal with depression on a daily basis. I'm in a really REALLY good place right now. I don't think I've had a major low in over a year. But that doesn't mean that sex is forefront on my mind all the time. You need to check in on that, too. How is your partner feeling? You may want sex, she may want a chocolate brownie. Or a beer. Or a joint.
The crux of all this is, guys, girls, communicate. Sex is great. But romance and foreplay are not overrated.