With more and more people working at home and sheltering, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples are spending additional time in physical proximity to one another. This increased togetherness has resulted in many partners taking advantage of the increased opportunity and having more sex.
Unfortunately, for other couples, the forced togetherness has exposed previously avoided problems of intimacy and romance and created some uncomfortable awkwardness.
As a clinician who helps couples have better sex lives, I see the coronavirus crisis as an excellent opportunity to address and fix an embarrassing and discouraging problem.
The good news is that the solution is really fun but doesn’t involve sex at all. The key for many couples to re-ignite the flames of passion is unlocking pent up inhibitions and learning how to get silly . Yes, that is not a typographical error. Increasing silliness in couple is good and allows passion to follow. Let me explain:
There are many reasons why partners lose interest in sex or in one another. Things like lack of time, fatigue , anxiety, and poor health are very common. Given the cooped up conditions imposed by the coronavirus situation, however, depression, anger/resentment and inhibition are the prime culprits which can rob a marriage or relationships of it physical joy and excitement.
Therefore , during these unusual times, some unusual methods may be called for. Without getting too deep into the woods of brain science and neurology, suffice it to say that the challenge for uninspired couples is to get them out of their anticipatory thoughts and into immediate sensations. Traditional sex therapies employ techniques called sensate focusing, i.e. things like back rubs and massages which do not involve touching the genitals or erogenous zones of the body.
While these techniques work pretty well, they do have a sort of “home-work” feel to them which itself can be stressful. As an alternative, I have found in working with couples that not talking about sex at all can be paradoxically helpful in stimulating erotic activity. For example, , I was recently working with a couple who hadn’t had sex for some time but wanted to . Asking direct questions about what seemed to get in the way was not productive and seemed to bring unpleasant experiences to the surface and bring the overall session down.
Shifting gears, I asked them to tell me about the last time they were silly together . What followed was amazing. Each recalled memories doing goofy stuff when they were first dating and began to laugh . Broad smiles came across both of their faces as they recalled the happy and playful times of their early years together. Helping them “get into” their memories revealed that they both wanted to be able to be freer and uninhibited. When we explored what prevented them from being so and what in particular they would like to do, both lit up and offered several ideas. For home play, since they both liked the same kind of music and had met at a dance , I suggested that they chose some high energy music together and find a time when they would give themselves permission to be silly, i.e. to listen and move spontaneously to the music in any way that they wanted without any concern for the way it looked or how silly it felt. In fact, the sillier, the better.
The next session I asked how it went and they both noted that, although they were a little self-conscious at first, as they got “into” it, they felt terrific. They both mentioned how free they felt and how much fun it was . In subsequent sessions, the positive feeling was revisited and, without prompting, it didn’t take long to transition from silly dancing to silly sexual play.
Let’s review why getting silly with your partner can help you to temporarily overcome discouragement, resentments and inhibitions and open up sexual adventure:
— Music when combined with free and unrestrained rhythmic movement , has the magnetic power to pull us out of negative moods and irritated or angry thought, and transport us to a place of energized sensational pleasure and pure joy.
— Laughter, which unusual gyrations can cause , likewise creates an intense sense of freedom and delight. —
— Plus, prolonged activity such as this is aerobic and stimulates the release of endorphins which elevates our sense of well being and happiness.
— Finally, since the experience is being mutually experienced and happening without criticism or disapproval, a sense of trust and safety is enhanced which opens the door to sexual arousal and passion. Put another way , it’s fun and one fun thing leads to another .
I realize that there are many serious stressors and threats put upon us by the coronavirus pandemic. That said, it is important to remember that, although life has changed and some things have been limited, joy and frivolity are still important aspects of healthy life which need not be overlooked or neglected. If your joy has waned or your passion has fizzled , try being silly with your partner and make him/her laugh.
Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC,. Fellow AAPC 5 28 2020
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