10 steps to heal a broken heart
The searing pain of a failed relationship is the greatest suffering many of us will ever experience. Now, leading hypnotist Paul McKenna and psychotherapist Dr Hugh Willbourn claim they can teach you to mend a broken heart. Using their unique 10 step method, you can remove emotional pain and feel free to enjoy life fully again - in days.
• ACCEPT THE PAIN
Accept that you will have to go through some pain. It is an unavoidable truth that if you loved enough to be heartbroken, you have to experience some suffering.
When you lose something that mattered to you, it is natural and important to feel sad about it: that feeling is an essential part of the healing process.
The problem with broken-hearted people is that they seem to be reliving their misery over and over again. If you cannot seem to break the cycle of painful memories, the chances are that you are locked into repeating dysfunctional patterns of behaviour. Your pain has become a mental habit. This habit can, and must, be broken.
This is not to belittle the strength of your feelings or the importance of the habits you've built up during your relationship. Without habit, none of us would function. But there comes a time when the pain becomes unhealthy.
When you enter your bedroom at night, you switch on the light without thinking. If you obsess about your ex, and feel unhappy all the time, it's likely that your unconscious mind is 'switching on' your emotions in exactly the same way.
Without realising it, you have programmed yourself to feel a pang of grief every time you hear that tune you danced to, or see your ex's empty chair across the kitchen table.
• CHANGE YOUR HABITS
Now you have to break those connections. Turn off the music that reminds you of your ex. Make your home look and feel different from when your loved one was around. Move the furniture.
Take up a new activity. And keep moving: exercise is the single most effective therapy for depression.
The point of these changes is to break up the old associations and give yourself a new environment for your new life. The changes you make don't have to be permanent. Even if it is just using a different shampoo and deleting your ex's number from the memory of your mobile, change something. Now.
• CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS
The next step is to do the same thing on the inside - transform your habits of thought. In a relationship, we build up a huge array of such habits. When the love affair ends, these patterns can still be running.
To change your thinking habits, you need to understand a little more about them.
Have you ever witnessed the same event as someone else, and later found out their account of it was completely different from yours? Each of you saw the event through a 'frame', made up of your personal beliefs, feelings and internal habits.
If you are finding it devastatingly difficult to handle the end of your relationship, you may need to change this 'frame'. You will need to reframe your heartbreak. Stop seeing it as the end of your happiness. Instead, turn it into a challenge; view it as an opportunity.
Being heartbroken can make you feel worthless and hopeless - but that is because the frame you are using is too narrow. Learning to see your situation with a different frame is a wonderful liberation.
• VIEW YOUR RELATIONSHIP FROM THE OUTSIDE
The following exercise will help you look at your circumstances from different points of view, so you gain helpful insights.
1. Think about the break-up of your relationship. What are the judgments or generalisations you have made about yourself and your ex?
2. Now think of someone you admire - a character from history or a real friend. Imagine they are watching a movie of this part of your life, and step into their shoes to watch it instead. Imagine what their comments would be.
3. Now imagine that a neutral observer is watching the movie of your life. Step into their shoes and watch it from there.
4. Notice the differences that you see from each point of view. Which ones are helpful? Which ones make you feel better? Use these perspectives to view your relationship in a new light.
People who get over difficulties well rarely see what has happened to them as a disaster. They frame it as a challenge. It is a matter of a point of view. It is not what happens to us, but how we interpret it that determines the outcome for us.
• CHANGE HOW YOU SEE YOURSELF AND HIM
The next stage is to focus on your mental picture of your lost love. By changing how you represent your ex in your mind, you can greatly reduce or even eliminate your distress.
You must learn to control your 'visualisation'. Every single one of us makes pictures in our imagination - and we can all learn how to change the pictures. It is important to learn to do this, because our bodies react to what we imagine in the same way that they react to what is actually happening to us. Memory and imagination affect our feelings in the same way as reality does.
We are constantly altering our state by the pictures we make in our imagination and the way we talk to ourselves. So it is vital to control those pictures and not let them run away with our feelings.
• CHANGE HOW YOU SEE YOUR PAST
1. Answer the following question. Which side of your front door is the lock on? To answer, you have had to make a mental picture of the door. You have made a visualisation.
2. Now try to imagine what your front door would look like if it was bright orange or had yellow stripes down it. Make it bigger. Move it away so that it is smaller. Move it further away and down a bit so you are looking down on it. Make it open. Change it in different ways.
3. Think about your ex now. As soon as you remember what someone looks like, you are using visualisation. What is the expression on his or her face? Observe what your ex is wearing and what he or she is doing. Where do you see the picture of them? In front of you, or to the left or the right? Is it lifesize or smaller? Is it a movie or a still image? Is it solid or transparent? Now, as you keep that image in your mind's eye, notice the feelings that arise. Make a note of those feelings.
4. Now you could remember or imagine them differently. You can imagine you are a great film director. You can reshoot the scenes of your memory and imagination in any way you want. You can change the action, soundtrack, lighting, camera angles, framing, focus and speed. Change how you are visualising your ex and notice how it affects your feelings.
5. Bring to mind the picture you had of your ex.
6. Notice where it appears and how big it is.
7. Now drain the colour out until it looks like an old black and white picture.
8. Move the image further away until it is one-tenth of its original size.
9. Shrink it even further, right down to a little black dot.
10. Notice how your feelings have changed and compare how you feel now to the note you made earlier.
You will notice that some changes have a bigger effect than others. Images that are closer, bigger, brighter and more colourful have greater emotional intensity than those that are duller, smaller and further away.
Standing outside your memories and watching as if they were a movie helps you distance yourself from them.
• FALL OUR OF LOVE - FOR GOOD
Now you are ready to tackle the central problem using the visualisation technique. Part of being heartbroken is the fact that you still feel in love. It hurts because part of you is still attached to your ex. This exercise helps that piece of you release itself.
1. List five occasions when you felt very in love with your ex. List them so you can easily call them to mind.
2. Start with the first of those memories. Play with it. Move the image away from you so that you can see yourself in the picture. Make it small.
3. Drain out the colour so it is black and white, then make it transparent. When you look at your memory like this, it will seem as if the event is happening to someone else, and the emotional intensity will be reduced still further. You are starting to re-code your memory.
4. When you have finished re-coding the first memory, do the same for the next one. Work through them until you have done all five.
5. Remember in detail five negative experiences with your expartner, where you felt very definitely put off by him or her. List the five experiences.
6. Take the least appealing memory and fully return to that moment. Try to relive it.
7. Now turn up the colour and the clarity. Make the memory as bright and clear as you can, and experience the feelings more and more strongly.
8. Go through each of the other four negative memories of your ex-partner, and relive them. Carry on until even thinking about them puts you off.
When you think about the bad experiences again and again, the negative memories begin to join up so that there is no space between them for the feelings of love, yearning and regret.
Concentrate on the exercise and do it methodically. Some people have found that doing this just once makes them feel different. To make sure the effect sticks, do it every day for two weeks.
• UNDERSTAND YOUR EMOTIONS
The next stage is to learn to understand your emotional reactions better. Your feelings of heartbreak are unlikely to disappear unless you cope with what they are trying to tell you.
An emotion is a bit like someone knocking on your door to deliver a message. If you don't answer, it keeps knocking until you do open up.
Opening the door to your feelings means learning to understand them. This can be hard, because heartbreak is complicated by other feelings: anger, fear and shame.
• BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL FIND LOVE AGAIN
You could fall into the trap of remaining convinced that your ex is the only person you could ever love. This is unlikely to be true on a planet with six billion people.
So why do you believe it? Can it be because you are desperately trying to avoid accepting that the relationship is over? Or are you afraid that the bad feelings associated with heartbreak will never go away?
That fear makes you anxious, and keeps you feeling bad for longer. The burden of your heartbreak has grown heavier, and a vicious circle has been established.
• LIVING HAPPILY AFTER YOUR BREAK-UP
A good way of giving yourself a boost - and coping with complicated feelings - is to imagine a bright future.
1. Imagine the future as a corridor in front of you. Imagine walking down it, away from the present, towards a door.
2. Open the door, and see beyond it a world in which you have recovered from your heartbreaking relationship.
3. See what you look like, what you are wearing, where you are going, whom you are seeing.
4. Now step into this new world and into the new happy you. Imagine the whole experience from the inside, seeing what you would see, hearing what you would hear, and feeling how good and happy things are now.
It is not a matter of believing the image is real: just imagine it as vividly as possible.
In heartbreak, there is often a backlog of emotional learning to get through. Do one bit at a time. Your unconscious mind will protect you, and give you a rest so that you can deal with the next bit. You will learn to step out of the memories, leave them behind, and start a new life.
• Extracted from How To Mend Your Broken Heart by Paul McKenna and Hugh Willbourn (Bantam Press, £7.99). ° 2003, Paul McKenna and Hugh Willbourn.
9 Things You Need To Know About Anal Sex
Anal sex may seem taboo, but behind closed doors, plenty of women have tried it: According to a survey published in a 2015 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, more than 1 in 3 women ages 19 to 44 has tried it at least once. That said, it's probably not a regular Saturday night thing. But one thing's clear: Whether you're curious or a connoisseur, anal sex has become mainstream enough that it's worth taking time to discuss what to know, what to avoid, and the how-to's needed to make the experience amazing. Here, sex experts share what you need to know if you're interested in trying it out.
It shouldn’t hurt.
It may feel like an odd sensation, but done correctly, anal sex should not be painful. Skip experimenting if you have hemorrhoids or are having digestive issues, and use plenty of lube. Unlike the vagina, the anus doesn't create its own lubrication during arousal. Try silicone-based lube; it's thicker and won't dry out the way water-based lubes can.
It won't "stretch you out."
Some people worry that anal sex will lead to incontinence, which isn't the case,. The anus will stretch to accommodate a penis or toy that enters (much like it will stretch to allow a bowel movement to exit) and then will return to normal.
It may cause an orgasm.
For some women, the act can feel incredibly sensual. The anus has a rich nerve supply, which can make things feel very intense and, for some women, result in an orgasm.
Curious? Try it out after you've already climaxed, when your body is relaxed. Or take a shower together, and allow your partner to gently massage the area with a soapy finger. Experimenting in the tub or shower can also make you feel "clean," although if you've had a recent bowel movement, you shouldn't worry about your partner hitting any fecal matter. (Waste is held much higher up, in your lower intestine, and won't make contact with a finger or toy. Any trace remains will be removed through washing.)
It's all about communication.
Before your clothes are off, talk it out with your partner. And consider having a safe word—a code word that has nothing to do with sex (like "hockey") that brings everything to a halt, fast. This can be a smart strategy in any new sexual situation. Your partner may not be able to tell if you're making moans of pleasure or pain, so having a code word in place can make you both confident you're on the same page during the act.
Skip an enema.
A recent bowel movement and soap and water is all you need. An enema can be unnecessarily complicated and may irritate your anus and intestinal lining, say experts.
Even if you're in a monogamous relationship, condoms are a good idea when it comes to anal sex. Why? For one, they reduce friction to provide a smoother entry. Second, since anal tissue is fragile and susceptible to microscopic tears, having anal sex without a condom could cause the bacteria already in your anal canal to enter your bloodstream—not good. And use a separate condom for each sex act (i.e., if you're going from vaginal sex to anal sex). Just be sure not to use an oil-based lube with a condom, since the oil could degrade the latex and cause the condom to break.
Try a toy.
Toys can be a great way to explore anal play. Make sure you find a toy suited for anal sex that has a base that flares out. (Unlike the vaginal canal, which is closed, the anal canal is open and a toy could get stuck in your body. Not something you want to explain to your MD!)
Trying a small anal plug can get your body used to the sensation of fullness and let you determine whether or not it's pleasurable for you. And also consider taking a class: More and more sex shops around the country are offering workshops where trained sexperts talk positions, toys, and how-to's. (Hey, at the very least, it's something different than dinner and a movie.)
Aren't into it? Don't do it.
Sexologists agree: Although plenty of women find it pleasurable, it's not an essential to cross off your sex bucket list. Sex is supposed to be fun, and if the idea doesn't turn you on, it's totally fine to stick to your repertoire of what works.
This bedroom habit is crucial for a happy relationship
"I'm sorry for what I said when I was sleep-deprived." Sound familiar? We thought so. New research reveals that a good night's sleep may be the key to a better bond with your guy.
For the study, the authors asked 68 newlywed twosomes to (individually) document their relationship satisfaction, as well as how many hours they slept every day for seven days. After analysing the data, the researchers found that spouses who slept more than their usual amount (which was around 7.5 hours, on average) were more likely to say they were happy with their union on that specific day.
Another interesting nugget: Husbands (but unfortunately, not wives) were more likely to report overall martial satisfaction on days when they scored extra sleep—even if they also recalled having negative interactions with their spouse that day. Translation: Scoring shuteye won't make you forget that he didn't wash the dishes—but it might make him forgive you for a similar violation. The study authors say further research is needed to figure out the reasons for this difference.
Can't remember the last time you logged more than seven hours? These bad sleep habits could be the reason for your under-eye bags (and rocky relationship).
While we can't say we're shocked that getting enough sleep makes you a happier partner (let's face it, literally everyone is annoying when you're zonked), these findings are yet another reminder that sufficient snoozing is essential for overall health and happiness.
6 Things That Are Seriously Screwing With Your Sleep
The habits to avoid so you can actually get some shuteye tonight You know most of the major offenders—a late-afternoon latte, your neighbour's yappy dog, allergies that won't quit—but there are a few other sneaky obstacles that can make it harder to get a good night's sleep. We rounded up the top factors standing in your way. Try to avoid these at all costs!
Binge-watching Mad Men
This one goes out to all of you Netflix marathoners out there: It may be wise to ease up on your habit. A survey found that 82 percent of Netflixers stay up later than their usual bedtimes to marathon a show—and, as a result, many of them reported getting only two to three hours of sleep a night!
Understandably, 77 percent of them said that they felt sluggish after said all-nighters. Point is, we get that it's tempting—and, yes, super enjoyable—to stay up until dawn watching vampire/zombie whatever. But you know what else is enjoyable? A good night's sleep—and you're not going to get that if your night is dedicated to Netflix. So limit the marathons to weekends only from now on.
Those Sunday Night Blues
You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach on Sunday night where you start to think about how much you have to do in the week ahead, how you're still kind of tired from the weekend, and how is it almost Monday already?! Brace yourself: A survey from the market research company found that the feeling can actually mess with your sleep pattern. A whopping 70 percent of people surveyed said they toss and turn up to 30 minutes longer on Sundays. Plus, a quarter of people who said they typically don't have sleep issues said even they worry they'll have trouble on Sunday nights. It comes down to two things:
1) You stayed up later over the weekend, so your rhythm is out of whack, and
2) You’re so anxious about the week ahead that your mind actually keeps you awake.
To get that much-needed sleep you need, try this de-stressing meditation before bed.
Sending Off Work Emails on Your Phone After 9 P.M.
You think you're being majorly productive by getting a jump start on tomorrow's to-do list, but actually, that plan may backfire. A study found that when people used their smartphones for work after 9 P.M., they reported less sleep overall than when they avoided their cell. Here’s why: Checking email can stress you out, which keeps you up. Plus, the light on your phone also may hinder the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep better. The solution? Give your smartphone a strict bedtime, and stick to it. Plug it in away from your bed if you have to. Trust us, the "what's happening on Instagram" anxiety is far less extreme than the anxiety you'll feel by checking your email late at night.
Eating the Wrong Foods
Some foods and drinks may hinder your sleep more than others. Things like caffeine, alcohol, aged and fermented foods, tomato-based products, and even too much water can all keep you up at night. Of course, hunger pains can also keep you from sleeping soundly, so try these healthy snacks that help you sleep better instead.
Not Dealing with Your Stress Properly
Stress is one of the worst feelings in the world, and the specific way in which you deal with your stress can impact your sleep patterns. Those who handed it by distracting themselves, thinking about it constantly, or ignoring it completely had higher rates of insomnia than those who handled it with positive reframing, humour, religion, and venting.
Putting Off Bedtime for Basically No Reason
We've all been there: You tell yourself you're going to go to bed at 11 P.M., but rather than tucking yourself in, you go check Instagram. Someone has a cool sunset picture, so you click on it and then start looking at other sunset pictures—all of the sudden it's 12:30 and you're still on your couch and haven't even taken your contacts out yet. Researchers recently coined this behaviour "sleep procrastination" in an article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. It's a term for "failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so." (Otherwise known as what you typically do at least three nights out of the week.) To avoid getting distracted by random things at night, think of sleep as a reward after a hard day, not something you need to "get to." And consider putting a "do not disturb" function on your phone so you don’t check Insta/FB/Twitter and get lost in a feed-scrolling frenzy.
There you have it - Avoid these 6 hurdles to a better nights sleep, and get more out of your relationship to boot.
More Morning Sex, Please!
Sex may not be what's on your mind when the alarm goes off, but starting the day with a bang can be awesome
Yes, the a.m. can lack certain erotic qualities—e-mail beckons from your phone, your breath isn't its most minty fresh, and the glare of sunlight might feel anything but seductive. Worst of all, you haven't had any coffee yet. Add in that some experts say women are more likely to reach orgasm later in the day, and morning sex doesn't seem to be anything worth losing sleep over. But for guys—and I should know because I am one—the exact opposite is true. You might even say we're always up for it!
Don't blame us. It just works out that our testosterone levels peak in the a.m. But here's a little secret: A woman's testosterone also peaks in the morning, and it controls sexual desire and satisfaction for you as much as for him. That means sex as the sun comes up could be the very best sex of the day.
If you're using one of the following excuses to avoid getting it on when you first wake up, here's how to kick your hesitation out of bed—and have some fun keeping yourself in it.
"Mornings are rushed."
To enjoy sunrise sex, you have to chill out. "For women to reach full levels of arousal, they need to be relaxed," says Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., author of Getting the Sex You Want. "But many women have told me that in the morning they're already thinking about their day, worrying about getting up and out."
To stay what Nelson calls "sensually focused," break the habit of checking your work e-mail on your phone while lying in bed. Reading the report that your insomniac coworker composed late the night before isn't going to light anyone's fire.
If you still feel too rushed to take time out, you may just have to trick yourself. After all, you set the alarm early so you can hit snooze once or twice. Why not do it for sex too? Regena Thomashauer, the founder of Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts, which educates women on the power of their sensuality, recalls one couple who made a point of setting their alarm clock an hour earlier every Friday, specifically so they could stay in bed.
"That's a lovely solution to finding time for morning sex in a life that might be too hectic otherwise," she says.
"I don't feel sexy in the morning."
If your fears about bad odor or breath are killing the mood, I can attest that guys also have their share of self-consciousness about these things. There's no shame in keeping a tin of mints by the bed. Even a swig of water from a bottle on your nightstand can go a long way toward freshening up one's breath—moist mouths collect less bacteria. (It also might come in handy after an athletic romp.) Or, as long as you promise to hop right back in the sack, duck into the bathroom to brush your teeth or gargle mouthwash.
You could also skirt the breath issue by skipping kissing altogether. Lux Alptraum, CEO of the erotic blog Fleshbot, recommends a basic cowgirl position with you on top facing him. Or, if you're ready to rise and shine, stand up and let him take you from behind. To compensate for the lack of kissing, she says, "There's plenty of opportunity for him to whisper all sorts of sexy things into your ear."
"I'm just not feeling it."
With our testosterone levels peaking in the early hours of the day, guys wake up ready to have the best (or at least the longest-lasting) sex of the day. Women don't wake up with the same degree of obvious arousal, but the good news is that your body's chemistry is actually primed for morning sex too.
High levels of testosterone increase sexual desire, and amped up amounts of oxytocin post-sex make you want to bond.
To get in the mood, try asking your man to describe what's going on down there and what he might like to do about it. "You may be surprised how a little sweet talk can turn you on," says Nelson. As a bonus, the oxytocin-induced extra closeness and trust can give couples a kick start to try more imaginative or intimidating positions instead of the usual routine ones.
But if you're the type who isn't alert until you've had your coffee, you might prefer positions that don't require much exertion. Nelson suggests the "can opener position," which is missionary with one leg bent upward, maybe even resting on his shoulder. "This allows for close and deep penetration without too many gymnastics," she says.
"It's too bright!"
Candlelight is sexy. Stark daylight is less so. But relationship experts say it's important, at some point in a committed twosome, to bare all. You want to build the kind of trust and acceptance with your partner that lets you feel body-confident in any kind of light. After all, you haven't really been naked in front of someone until you've been naked in the full glare of day.
But if you're still feeling a little shy, Nelson suggests taking it slowly and adding just a bit of covering. "If you're not ready to go for all-out exposure, keep the sheet on part of your body," she says. "Wrap a blanket around your legs. Or even welcome him under your tent of blankets. Sometimes you'll find that the sheets come off or the tent ends up on the floor." And there you are, in all of your morning glory.
11 Things You Should Definitely Put On Your Sex Bucket List
Could your sex life use a boost? It's normal for people in long-term relationships to feel like things have gotten a little (or a lot)...stale. But simply mixing it up a bit can be all it takes to reignite the spark.
Shake things up by starting a bucket list with all the sexy situations you want to try (we're serious). Feel free to steal the 11 ideas below—they're guaranteed to boost your sex life and the connection between you and your partner. Now, how quickly can you check them all off?
Have "Just Because" Sex
You don't always need an occasion to have sex; doing it "just because" can majorly boost your bond in the long run.
So instead of waiting for Saturday night or for when the kids are away, jump right in—right now. Need a little motivation? Sex is a great way to get rid of tension and let go of the stress of a busy day, explains Nelson. Plus, sex begets sex: Once you start having spur-of-the-moment romps, it will feel more like a habit (and get you out of that rut). That's reason enough to rethink your usual Monday night TV plans.
Have "LOL" Sex
Bringing a sense of fun into the bedroom is key for a healthy sex life. So try something that may seem a little silly at first, like giving your partner a lap dance or having him guess what tune you're humming during oral sex (or try a new sex position). This isn't about perfecting a new move or pretending that you're starring in a porno: It's about having fun together. As long as you're both comfortable being silly and have a sense of adventure, you'll emerge even closer—even if the technique you tried wasn't exactly a winner.
Have "Sense-ational" Sex
Blindfolds, noise cancelling headphones, remaining completely silent as your partner has his way with you...omitting one sense can allow your other senses to work overtime, creating an OMG sex experience for both of you. Try it out, then switch roles so your partner can have a go.
Have "Everything But" Sex
Remember that intense feeling of making out for hours—but not going any further? Experts agree that the intensity of kissing and touching can get lost in long-term relationships, when it's easy to zero in on the main event. (Try freshening up your foreplay routine with these tips.) So this time, ban sex and focus on everything that comes before. You'll be surprised at how hot it can get even without the grand finale.
Have "We Might Get Caught" Sex
No, we're not suggesting that you go at it in a restaurant bathroom or on an airplane (just think of the anything-but-sexy germs). This is more about going a little bit outside of your comfort zone, like keeping the shades open or getting it on in the living room when no one's home. Although you know the odds of anyone walking in on you are slim, the novelty of it will kick your adrenaline into overdrive and lead to a more intense experience, says Barnard.
Have "The Couch/Coffee Table/Washing Machine Will Never Be The Same" Sex
Yes, your bed is beyond comfortable, but having sex outside of the bedroom adds an extra layer of urgency that can't be discounted. When you have the house to yourselves, try it out somewhere you’ve never done it. (Find out what kinky sex says about you.) You just may find that your dining room table has some amazing attributes you never imagined when you saw it in the showroom.
Have "All Day" Sex
Sexting isn't just for college students, and you don't have to use any words that will make you blush. Start the anticipation in the morning by texting to let your partner know how hot he looked after getting out of the shower or how excited you are that you both have the house to yourselves this evening. "Your rule of thumb for sexy texting is that if someone happened to see your screen they wouldn’t be disgusted—they'd just be jealous of your relationship," says Aline Zoldbrod, PhD, a certified sex therapist based in Boston. Try it and see how revved up you are by the end of the day.
Have "Better Than Dessert" Sex
The best sex electrifies the senses, so why not add a sweet treat into the mix? But don't bust out the whipped cream bikini (we're with you if that thought alone made you turn purple). Less is more, and it's essential to keep the sweet stuff away from your genitals (which can cause a less-than-sexy infection.) (Try one of these 13 tips for seriously better sex.) Instead, try a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on your nipples or abdomen and have your partner lick it off, suggests Barnard.
Have "Slippery" Sex
Shower sex can be extremely hot—if you do it right. (Here are 7 more times you should definitely have sex.) First, bring lube into the shower before you begin, recommends Emily Morse, sex expert and host of the podcast Sex With Emily, since the water can actually dry out your nether regions. Start by having your partner slowly soap you up, then do the same. When you're both lathered up, bring out the lube and begin the action before rinsing off.
Have "Page-Turning" Sex
Regardless of how you feel about Fifty Shades of Grey, the phenomenon created a wave of erotic literature—and a lot of it is surprisingly sexy. Try reading stories to each other; Irresistible: Erotic Romance for Couples by Rachel Kramer Bussel is a great option because it contains short stories that can easily be read before bedtime. Not only will it get you in the mood, but it can also help spark conversations about things you'd both love to try in real life.
Have "Remember When" Sex
Part of the advantage of being in a long-term relationship is the fact that you already have a ton of hot memories under both of your belts—so put them to good use! Think back to some of your hottest escapades, and narrate them to each other. You'll be inspired to top your greatest hits, and you're sure to have a very fun time trying.
15 Secrets Of Seriously Sexually Satisfied Long-Term Couples
Ahhh, the joys of a long-term relationship: Comfort, loyalty...and a sort-of-stale sex life. Not so fast. Staying together for the long haul doesn't necessarily mean action in the bedroom has to suffer. In fact, knowing each other so well can actually make things even hotter in that arena. Need proof? We spoke to real couples, all of whom have been together for 10 years or longer, and rank their sex lives very highly. Lucky for you, they were willing to share their secrets.
Secret #1: Put it on the calendar
"My husband travels a lot for work,” says Marianne*, 39, who has been married for 15 years, "so we 'bookend' it. We have sex before he leaves and right when he gets back." Chet* and Tina*, 49 and 47 respectively, who have been together 16 years, also schedule sex when they have to travel. "If Tina is leaving for a trip, she'll stop by the house on her way to the airport from work to 'get some' before flying," says Chet, "or we'll plan to have sex after church if I have to leave on a Sunday."
Secret #2: Be candid.
"The secret to keeping sex exciting is making sure the lines of communication are open," says Alisa, 40, who has been married for 18 years. "Tony didn't always know how to give me an orgasm. When I made the decision to talk to him about what does work, we reached a whole new level of intimacy. I wasn't waiting for him to 'figure it out' anymore; sharing has made both of us better lovers."
Secret #3: Act like teenagers.
"We've been married for 11 years and have three children, but my husband and I still have fun, just like we did when we were dating," says Caroline*, 39. "We still 'do it' on the floor, even though we have a California King. Every now and then when he's working from home, I'll interrupt him in stilettos and a robe, or I'll quickly flash him when we're out and no one's looking. When he tries to playfully grope me I don't swat him away—it keeps the spark alive."
Secret #4: Let your mind be changed.
"Basically I'm the man in the relationship and just want to do 'wham bam thank you ma'am,' but my husband isn't like that," says Meredith*, 37, who has been married for 10 years. "Rich* is a generous lover. He takes his time and makes sure I’m enjoying myself. Once we get started, I tend to forget that I ever wanted a quickie."
Secret #5: Take risks.
"Some of our most mind-blowing sessions were essentially out in the open where we could have been caught," says Chet, 49, who has been with his wife for 16 years. "Once we were on vacation, taking advantage of two-for-one piña coladas while we watched the sunset. Next thing I knew, my wife was straddling me, bathing suit pushed aside, and we were looking out for people walking by!"
Secret #6: Share the responsibility.
"We take turns initiating sex," says Alisa, "because we've found that in most relationships only one person initiates and that can lead to a power struggle and feelings of rejection. We had to work out which days were better for us. Tony initiates Sunday through Tuesday and I'm on call Wednesday through Friday. Saturday is either a day of rest or a bonus day!"
Secret #7: Get inspired.
"I don't look at porn online," says Erika*, 32, who has been with her husband for 14 years, "but I will Google things like 'how to be more intimate with your husband.' " Adds Sharon*, 37, who has been married for 11 years, "I felt a lot friskier after my book club read Fifty Shades of Grey. A big part of the main character Christian Grey's method is keeping the girl waiting. Sometimes it would be all foreplay and then he wouldn't even have sex with her. I applied that concept to my sex life and have loved the longer build-up. The waiting makes the actual sex more satisfying."
Secret #8: Resist autopilot.
"Quantity has nothing to do with quality," says Patricia, 50, who has been married for 14 years. "My husband and I continue to find new levels of intensity. For us, it's about treating sex as an opportunity to discover something new. The key to having a fulfilling long-term sex life is to shift your focus away from excitement, and focus instead on the richness and texture in every experience. There's always the potential to be surprised."
Secret #9: Challenge yourselves.
"For the first 11 years of marriage, things were just okay," says Alisa. "We were more like roommates raising children together than lovers. Then, after hearing about other couples doing similar things, we embarked on a Sixty Days of Sex challenge. The result of putting each other first continues to impact our sex life today. Now we have sex at least twice a week, and we talk about sex more—what we like, what feels good. We flirt with each other more."
Secret #10: Know each other's likes.
"We know what the other likes and provide it," says Chet. "There are certain things that make each of us ecstatic, but we don't do them every time we make love. That's what makes them special." Adds Patricia: "It's great to have a 'bag of tricks' that you know will work most of the time, but beyond that, familiarity with your partner's sexuality gives you a template to work from. It's like learning to write a sonnet: Once you have the formula, you can create something beautiful."
Secret #11: Compliment each other.
"I remember gaining 40 pounds with my first pregnancy and feeling so unattractive," says Sharon, "but my sweet husband still wanted to have sex with me, and always made a point of telling me how sexy and beautiful I was."
Secret #12: Work through it.
"There was a time when I felt like sex was a one-way street, but it turns out our problems stemmed from issues outside the bedroom," says Erika. "My husband was worried about finances and other things that took his mind off sex completely. That bothered me and made me feel like I wasn't good enough, but we tackled those issues head on. Now we're past that, and our sex life is great again."
Secret #13: Get rid of expectations.
"The first time we had sex, Tina put so much pressure on herself to please me that it didn't work out," says Chet. "Now we know each other so well that we can just have fun. Sex is never a chore. Sometimes we laugh so hard we have to stop, and that's okay. And some of our most intimate moments are us simply lying in bed together entwined."
Secret #14: Don't go from 0 to 60.
"My wife's feet are an incredibly powerful erogenous zone and a foot rub with lotion is sometimes more stimulating to her than when I go down on her," explains Chet. Adds Patricia, "My husband and I usually take a bath together to transition into sex." (Check out these 7 erogenous zones you've been neglecting way too long.)
Secret #15: Embrace your age.
"Being body confident can be challenging as you age," says Olivia*, 45, "but I think this is when the long-term trust component comes into play. We've been together for 11 years and made a healthy, happy sex life a priority early on in our relationship. We agreed that though growing older may mean learning new ways to have good sex—creaky joints and all—we are not willing to give up or settle for anything less." Jennifer, 41, who has been with her husband for 15 years, agrees. "We don't stress about our bodies. In fact, we laugh about the crazy sounds they make!"