By: Misty Smith, Ph.D

What DO you do behind closed doors??? Are you playing songs like Rhianna’s “S & M,” or Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On?”  Or is it more like The Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”?

Are you putting on your granny PJs, brushing your teeth, and rolling over without even so much as a peck on the lips? OR… are you putting the kids to bed early, lighting some candles, and trying a different piece of lingerie out every other night? Do you even sleep behind the same door? Do you go to bed at separate times? One of you fall asleep reading while the other falls asleep on the couch watching something you don’t like?

I have noticed a trend in relationships that tend to go “south” after some years. People stop making romance and intimacy a priority. They are too tired. Work is exhausting. Traffic was a B*#ch. The kids take it all out of them. Believe me when I say that I have been guilty of using these excuses on many occasions. It takes effort… LOTS of effort, to keep the “fires” burning! I am always amazed when women (let’s be honest, it’s usually not the men) withhold ‘relations’ in an effort to get something they want or need. Isn’t that punishing yourself? Don’t you need that too? Even when we go into the event just to please our partner, don’t we get something out of it? Why do we do this to ourselves? If you really don’t get anything out of that, please see a doctor. It is supposed to be a mutually satisfying experience; not just another chore or item to check off on your “to-do” list.

My assumption is that we have gotten ourselves into a rut, don’t know exactly how to improve the situation, or we just don’t feel sexy anymore. I have found that leaving my home helps. Get out of the “family” space. Sometimes it is difficult to think about romance and intimacy in the bed that your kids snuggle in, your dogs sleep in, and where laundry abounds every other day. It is amazing at how quickly your mood can get a little frisky in a sexy hotel room or a nice B&B after a nice relaxing dinner and a little time away from hearing “I WANT CHOCOLATE MILK,” “CAN I GO OUTSIDE,” and “SHE HIT ME.” If you don’t have the money to take yourself away, send the kids away!!! Almost everyone can find a grandparent, aunt, or friend who is willing to let the kids sleepover for one night. If you can manage that, I am going to give you some tips on making your “family” space more romantic, intimate, and inviting. Clean the room! I have trouble doing paperwork at my house because I see everything that needs to be done IN MY HOUSE. The same thing goes for trying to have intimacy in a cluttered bedroom. If your eyes catch the pile of laundry in the corner or the dust-bunnies on the bedpost, you stop thinking about the pleasure and begin thinking about cleaning. That is just not sexy! Once the room is clean, light some candles, buy some fresh flowers to put on the nightstand, and change the sheets. This last one might seem a bit strange, but what is one of the most enticing things in a hotel room? For me it is the fresh clean sheets and blankets that are nothing like those in my bedroom! Have sheets and a blanket that make you feel sexy, and use it on those special nights with your significant other. It takes 10 minutes to change them, but could make for hours of excitement later that night. Start your intimate night with a candle lit bubble bath…men like them when they are the beginning of a happy ending. Follow that (or begin your night) with a massage. Take turns doing this. Buy some sensual scented massage lotion, and have it ready when he gets home. Incorporate other things into your bedroom activities, as well. These tips may need to be prefaced by me saying “don’t knock it til you try it.” Role-playing and toys can be exciting and sexy additions to your intimacy, and provide that much needed kick-start.

Since we are talking about feeling sexy, this is such an important aspect of intimacy for a woman! It is for me anyway! If I eat that second helping of dinner or that extra dessert, I feel overly full and not at all sexy. When you are feeling less than sexy, do something to change that! Feeling sexy and confident make the intimate experience soooo much more exciting and intense! Buy some lingerie that you feel sexy wearing. If you need some trouble spots covered, then find that piece that does the trick.Wear those stilettos or sexy boots that give you that extra boost of confidence! If you need even more of a boost, take a pole dancing class. I have never felt as sexy and confident as I did after a few lessons in a pole dancing class. Some places even offer lap dancing classes for couples. Talk about an awesome sexy date night!!!

The way I see it is like this. One half of a couple usually has “physical touch” as their language of love. If that need doesn’t get met with the other half of the couple, the relationship will suffer. They will get that need met in other ways, and that just might mean that it gets met by someone outside of the relationship. Couples fight less when they are getting their needs met. I would encourage every couple to take one of the Love Languages quizzes that are available. Then do some research on their significant others language of love. For some it might be difficult because their language of love is not at all the same. This is what relationships are all about….GIVE AND TAKE. One doesn’t work without the other.

About this column: Please be aware that this column potentially addresses sensitive issues that might, at times, be considered offensive. Feel free to send your relationship-related questions to my email: Be aware that email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information so it’s best to keep your questions general. If your question is featured in the column, your name and email will not be published. Submitting a question does not constitute a professional relationship in any way, and this column is not meant to substitute for face-to-face therapy. If you feel you’re doing the best you can and still need help, it may be time to seek counseling services from a professional. You may also join in on the conversations over on her Facebook page.

behindclosed_mistycutie1Misty Smith, Ph.D. is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She owns a private practice, Smith Counseling Services, Inc. She obtained her Master’s degree in Counseling from Jacksonville State University, an Educational Specialist degree from The University of Alabama, and her Doctorate in Counselor Education from Mississippi State University. She provides counseling services in the following areas: couples/marriage, family, stress management, employee assistance services, time management, divorce, and other major life changes. She generally focuses on solution-focused brief therapy, as well as, behavioral and cognitive-behavioral techniques, but feels a flexible approach to therapy is necessary because all people are different. She is a wife of 10 years and a mom to a 5 year-old daughter, a 3 year-old son, a 19 year-old step-son, a 16 year-old step-daughter, and a 20 year-old Russian exchange daughter.