Show Transcript for Episode 199: Three Commitments to Better Sex

Adam Matthews:             Today on Foreplay we were talking about how to revamp the bedroom. One weekend, three commitments, better sex, all on today’s episode, plus a special announcement coming at you soon.

Laurie Watson:                  Hello again and welcome to Foreplay Radio Sex Therapy. I’m your host, certified sex therapist, Laurie Watson, author of Wanting Sex Again and blogger at Psychology Today and WebMD and I have with me Dr. Adam Matthews, my cohost, who’s a couples therapist, psychotherapist, and president of NCAM AMFT. Foreplay is dedicated to helping couples keep it hot. Thanks for listening. Now onto today’s topic.

Adam Matthews:             So Laurie we’re talking about weekends and how to revolutionize your sex life in one weekend.

Laurie Watson:                  Revamping the bedroom.

Adam Matthews:             Revamping.

Laurie Watson:                  In one weekend.

Adam Matthews:             What do your weekends mostly look like? I’m interested in-

Laurie Watson:                  Mostly like work.

Adam Matthews:             You’re just working these days on the weekend?

Laurie Watson:                  I am.

Adam Matthews:             That’s sad. I don’t like that.

Laurie Watson:                  I know. It’s really sad. It is very sad. I am so ready for this to be done, but I’m finishing my dissertation.

Adam Matthews:             Yay.

Laurie Watson:                  I’m weeks away from that and so excited to be finally done. I had a really cool week though. I went to New Orleans to do my emotionally focused therapy, core skills training.

Adam Matthews:             My favorite place on earth.

Laurie Watson:                  Oh really?

Adam Matthews:             One of them. I love New Orleans.

Laurie Watson:                  What do you love about New Orleans?

Adam Matthews:             Well, I mean, I’m from Louisiana and so it feels like home and I’m not from New Orleans, but I went to New Orleans a lot. Yeah. The food, the dancing.

Laurie Watson:                  What’s your favorite place to go in New Orleans?

Adam Matthews:             Well, I’m not good at restaurant names. It’s a bad question for me.

Laurie Watson:                  Sorry.

Adam Matthews:             I just like good food. I like being in the French Quarter.

Laurie Watson:                  That’s where we stayed.

Adam Matthews:             I like beignets. I like all of that. It’s just fun.

Laurie Watson:                  Oh, yeah.

Adam Matthews:             It’s good energy.

Laurie Watson:                  They had amazing food. It was really great and I learned an amazing amount of stuff. I was so excited just to come home and bring that to the clinic and teach people about EFT and use EFT. I think it’s a little clearer than mud now, so.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah?

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah.

Adam Matthews:             Well that’s good. That’s good. That’s good. You’re in such a different phase of life for me. All my weekends just involve kid’s activities, ballet as we’ve talked about, and trying to contain my son from going crazy and entertain them as much as possible. So we are talking about a weekend that can really change things for couples. Right? We have three big things that we feel like they can make commitments to that will really … they can take steps really quickly to turn their relationship around.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah. I’d like to say just a little bit about when you would approach your partner for this kind of idea, right? I mean we know the sexual pursuer is going to say, “Yes, yes, I can turn it around in a weekend.”

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. They’re going to get super excited. They’re going to want to do all the things. Right.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah, but a sexual distancer is probably going to feel like, “Ooh, a lot of pressure.” So you have to have worked things through enough to really feel like this is something that you both want to do mutually. I mean, I think it would be a disappointment if you go into this kind of a weekend and your partner is reluctant.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. This feels like a sort of activity where you both feel like you’re on the same team and you work through a lot of the resentments or tensions between the two of you and you’re going in almost like you’re solving a puzzle. Right?

Laurie Watson:                  Right.

Adam Matthews:             Or you’re equally committed to finding a solution and you’re being able to work together on this.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah, and for all my EFT buddies who might be listening, I now have new language for it. So it’s basically once you are securely attached and you’re not reactive to each other’s cycles. So that means that you know basically, “Yeah. My partner’s a pursuer and this is what they need. This is how they find love, and I know that I feel pressure, but I know that they are doing this to connect.” Or likewise with a distancer or a withdrawer that they go away and they’re a little reluctant, but that’s their anxiety and you understand that and you have compassion for it. When you can talk about it with each other, that might be the time that you’re ready to do this weekend.

Adam Matthews:             We’re big fans of the weekend away anyway. Right?

Laurie Watson:                  Yes, please.

Adam Matthews:             Every relationship needs time to itself. It needs space to grow. It needs space to improve. If you don’t have that, you’re not going to improve and grow.

Laurie Watson:                  No.

Adam Matthews:             So this is just a more focused, one of those that we’ve talked about before.

Laurie Watson:                  I know, and I’ve got several weekends away planned out with my husband and I’m so excited.

Adam Matthews:             Oh, you do?

Laurie Watson:                  Oh, yeah.

Adam Matthews:             Already planned for the year?

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah.

Adam Matthews:             Oh, that’s nice.

Laurie Watson:                  We’re going to go see Hamilton.

Adam Matthews:             Oh, my fav.

Laurie Watson:                  We’re going to go up to New York. [crosstalk 00:04:48].

Adam Matthews:             Are you seeing Hamilton in New York?

Laurie Watson:                  No, I’m not seeing Hamilton in New York. I’m seeing it in Chicago.

Adam Matthews:             Okay. Still just as good. But you’re a Hamilton newbie, right?

Laurie Watson:                  I’m a Hamilton newbie.

Adam Matthews:             Your first time.

Laurie Watson:                  I’m a first timer.

Adam Matthews:             Right.

Laurie Watson:                  It’s my first time with Hamilton.

Adam Matthews:             Our friend Shelley has seen it like five times.

Laurie Watson:                  I know. That’s true.

Adam Matthews:             I’ve only seen it once, but I’ve listened. We jammed out to the soundtrack.

Laurie Watson:                  We have the soundtrack too, just to get ready.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Very good. So what’s the first step? What’s the first commitment that we’re talking about?

Laurie Watson:                  Okay, so the first commitment is basically, I mean, what sets this whole thing in motion, which is prioritizing intimacy. So you want to first of all, just in the planning stages and then think about how you’re going to spend the weekend together in a way that is just about the two of you. So 48 hours of sexual contact.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, in some way.

Laurie Watson:                  But no kids, no phones, no emails, no computers, no Twitter, no social media, nothing and no work. Which I think is probably the hardest thing for most people to get away from these days.

Adam Matthews:             Really?

Laurie Watson:                  Work is just always present, right?

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. But you have to say no to some things to be able to say yes to your relationship and that’s what that feels like is when you say prioritize intimacy, you’re saying no to a bunch of other things and being able to say yes to your relationship and specifically to sex in your relationship. Right?

Laurie Watson:                  Right. So you’re going away together basically for a sex weekend.

Adam Matthews:             Yes.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah.

Adam Matthews:             Right, but it feels a little more … we’ve talked about those types of weekends before, but this feels a little even more intentional when you’re talking about prioritizing intimacy. You’re saying, “We want this to be a part of our relationship. We recognize that this is an area that we struggle in. We’re on the same page, that we want it to be a priority”, and getting out of your house and your routines is so vital for that.

Laurie Watson:                  I think so too. I just think all of us, when we’re in our own homes … I don’t know. Some people, maybe not, but most women I talk to myself, I mean being out of my home is downtime. When I’m in my home I’m thinking about all the things I should’ve done, should get done. It’s not the same.

Adam Matthews:             Right.

Laurie Watson:                  Plus I mean being away together is the trick for me. So spend the first night away in a quiet relaxed way. Just find some place with room service, get away, have alcohol but in moderation, eat the dinner without talking to the kids. Just start to rest, relax, go to Hotwire. It’s a discount hotel place so most people can afford at least a night or two away.

Adam Matthews:             Well, and I would say splurge just a little bit on your hotel room. I feel like there are a lot of-

Laurie Watson:                  Ooh, Adam, I like you.

Adam Matthews:             Oh. Well. Thank you. I like you too. But I think you need to splurge a little bit and it needs to feel like a getaway, right? The Motel 6 doesn’t exactly feel like a getaway.

Laurie Watson:                  No [HoJos 00:07:56].

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. No HoJos. That’s Howard Johnson to you millennials who don’t know that term [crosstalk 00:08:04] because Howard Johnson is out of business. I don’t know if you knew that.

Laurie Watson:                  Oh, gosh.

Adam Matthews:             But I think being able to have a space like that, that feels like a vacation. It feels different. You could find a cheap motel, but it’s going to hinder rather than help. So you want a space that’s going to help this, right?

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah. So then once you’re relaxed, what we’re asking that you do would be an explicit exercise. This is an arousal stage fantasy exercise. I want you to spend an hour just kind of writing down your ideal sexual enjoyment, whatever that fantasy is. The purpose of this is to help your partner. So if you’re somebody who never really talks brass tacks, this is your opportunity to say, “This is what I think would be really hot.” If you’re somebody who it’s all about what’s hot and they don’t know kind of all the other things that you like, maybe the way you like to be prepared, maybe the way you like it afterwards, make it a little bit broader so that they know everything and maybe make it a little more vulnerable.

“This is what I feel when we do it. This is what I feel afterwards or during.” In whichever way your partner has asked you to help them understand you sexually. That’s what this is about. It’s something that we want you to criticize about the other. We don’t want you to say, “Oh my God, this is so crass.” That may be the way that they’re thinking about it. That’s their ideal fantasy. The idea is to be open enough to just let in … these are your partner’s thoughts.

Adam Matthews:             What if it is something that is truly shocking to the other person, right? Or something they’re not willing to participate in?

Laurie Watson:                  No. This would not be the time to shock your partner. I would advise against that. I know a couple and he waited until his honeymoon when he felt really, really safe to tell her that he was a cross dresser. No, that’s not what I want you to do here. I want you to-

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. This would not be to share a fantasy that you know would be outside of your partner’s boundaries, that they would be so far against. This would be something-

Laurie Watson:                  I mean, it could be outside of your usual boundaries, but I think it might be a stretch, but I-

Adam Matthews:             Right. I meant moral. Not saying if you know that they are against a threesome for example, this is not the time to bring that up. Not the time to bring up something that would just be absolutely shocking to them. Right?

Laurie Watson:                  Right. Right.

Adam Matthews:             Then you want them to kind of sit back to back on the bed. Why back to back?

Laurie Watson:                  Well, it gives them an opportunity to feel physical connection without that anxiety of being viewed. Sometimes for all of us when we’re watched, we feel just a little bit more anxious. I think if you’re about to reveal this … what I’ve seen for people is it gives them deep connection without self-consciousness, you know? So I mean, if they want to look at each other, that’s great. I suggest that they sit back to back naked. Skin on skin, baby.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Skin on skin is such a securing thing as well. It’s a securing exercise. So being able to do that without … I mean, it’s sexual, but it’s not having sex, which is going to be helpful to just that bond between the two.

Laurie Watson:                  Right. As best as you are able, just let this in. Let what your partner says in. Don’t get defensive. Just okay, this is not an ask of. This is what we’re going to do next. This is just a sharing of the minds, and then afterwards make love.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, that sounds like a great night.

Laurie Watson:                  I know.

Adam Matthews:             But we’re not even saying stop there. We’ve got two more things for the weekend.

Laurie Watson:                  I know. Right.

Adam Matthews:             Right? So we’ll come back after the break and talk about those two more things, plus a big announcement.

Laurie Watson:                  Okay.

So we want to remind all of you that we are thankful for the way you’ve shared the podcast. We continue to grow. It is our greatest honor when you share with a friend the work that we’re doing and trying to help people so that they can make positive changes and strengthen their marriages and their partnerships. We would like to invite you to our retreat in November. loveandsex360.com is where you find us, and I think the last thing we’d like to say is both of us are doing an intensives. So if you would like to work with us, let us know and call our centers. You can find us at foreplayradiosextherapy.com

Adam Matthews:             If you like what we’re doing and want to help support us, we’d love for you to rate and review us on iTunes. So thanks for listening.

So we’re back talking about how to revamp your sex life in a weekend. This segment of Foreplay is brought to you by HoJos, now defunct. Howard Johnson’s hotels. Just kidding. It’s really not.

Laurie Watson:                  Just kidding.

Adam Matthews:             So what’s the second thing, Laurie? Second phase.

Laurie Watson:                  Okay, so the second commitment is we want to fine tune what does work. So we’re going to find things that you’re already good at and the explicit exercise we want you to do is becoming a giver and a receiver. So we basically want you to do an oil massage, totally naked. Start with your neutral body areas and eventually progress to the genitals. The receiver should just have their eyes shut and maybe with each touch they start to help their partner rating it on a scale of one to five. So five is high for feeling good and we don’t want you to necessarily do this to orgasm. We want you to just do this for pleasure. So it’s going to be a timed exercise.

So for 30 minutes, one of you is the receiver, the other is the giver and what’s difficult about sex, right, is this balance. We are both givers and receivers. Touching is pleasure, and we often want to touch our partner in certain ways that gives us pleasure and receiving touch is pleasure. It’s both. So I think this is one of the difficulties in the dance of sex is finding that balance of, “No, don’t do it that way”, and it’s like, “Oh, but I want to do it that way,” I mean certainly something that is painful we don’t want to do, but we want to help our partner learn what increases arousal. So maybe saying, “Okay that’s just a one right now.”

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. For people that have never done this before, I know the intimacy is the goal, that it feels very intimate even in just your describing it. Right? So I wonder if people have never done something like this with their partner, it’s a pretty vulnerable thing to do. How would they internally kind of gear up for something like this? If this has been something that’s not been a part of their … this kind of intimate touch and intimate conversation about that touch or rating that touch, how would they kind of step into this in a good way?

Laurie Watson:                  You’re right. I think there’s so many vulnerable pieces about that, right? Being naked in light, in front of your partner. That could create anxiety. I think the sense of, “Oh my God, I don’t really know how to do this”, could create anxiety or, “I always fail at this and it’s just going to be the same old thing.” I mean, there’s all kinds of ways. So that’s why I’m saying let’s start from scratch. If you’re anxious about being naked, draw the curtains. Most hotels have blackout curtains and light a candle or something like that so that you can feel good. Maybe do this after a cocktail lunch.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Alcohol helps in these situations, right?

Laurie Watson:                  yeah . I mean, alcohol is a disinhibitor, right? So anything that disinhibits you so that you can get relaxed is good. But I think that’s a great point, Adam. I think as your arousal increases, you want to help your lover understand that. So certainly something that didn’t feel as good in the beginning. Maybe it didn’t feel bad but it just was neutral and now feels really good. You want to briefly say that. This is not a correcting time, this is not like, okay, “I don’t like that, do this, do that.” It’s more about a, “That’s a one. That’s a two. Hey, that’s a five.” It’s really just using numbers to guide your partner and also try to remember that touches change as arousal changes.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Then you’re moving on to Saturday afternoon, right?

Laurie Watson:                  Oh, yeah. So this can’t be after a cocktail lunch.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, you had to have started in the morning.

Laurie Watson:                  This one’s after a cocktail lunch.

Adam Matthews:             Hey, a mimosa maybe.

Laurie Watson:                  A mimosa. That’s right.

Adam Matthews:             But then the afternoon you have a more dynamic exercise to kind of see what their patterns are.

Laurie Watson:                  Yes. Okay. So this is difficult because we’re going to have you follow up four sentences with your thoughts and we’re going to post this on our show notes so that you don’t have to write this down. Okay. So this dynamic exercise, we’re going to have them analyze their patterns and also talk a little bit about things that need to be readjusted. So honesty in marriage is spelled T-A-C-T, right? Tact. We want to say something that is kind to our partner. We don’t want to make comments about their body at this point. We’re talking about interaction.

Adam Matthews:             Tact oftentimes too, you need to know what the language is of tact. A lot of times people just don’t have the right language or the right words and so they end up searching for things in the moment rather than knowing what are the things that they can … It’s basically sentence starters. Right? That’s, I think, what we have for them in a lot of ways, is there’s four sentence starters that just get that conversation rolling in a very tactful way.

Laurie Watson:                  Right. It’s also a way that couples who are in sync with each other can talk about what’s happening, what they see their part is in the whole dynamic, what they need from their partner and the commitment they’re making. So the first sentence that we want you to talk about, and you only get one of these each, is “In my opinion, our weaknesses regarding sexual intimacy are …” What would we get? Okay.

Adam Matthews:             Fill in the blank.

Laurie Watson:                  Lack of frequency, lack of oral sex, pain with menopause. We don’t have enough time.

Adam Matthews:             Experimenting with new things.

Laurie Watson:                  Experimenting with new things, the lack of variety, whatever. So whatever you think and you want to make it simple and this is not a paragraph answer.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, it’s one or two things at most.

Laurie Watson:                  It’s not a session to complain. We’re looking for a way that couples who are already in sync can just talk about ways that they might take some corrective actions.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Then the next one, it’s always important when you voice your opinion about what’s wrong to then also take responsibility for your part in it. Right?

Laurie Watson:                  Right.

Adam Matthews:             So the second one is just, “My contributions to the difficulties are …”, fill in the blank. Right. They are, “I’m not romantic enough. I don’t plan dates enough. I’m not responsive enough. I don’t give you enough feedback about what I like or don’t like.”

Laurie Watson:                  Right.

Adam Matthews:             It’s just being able to take responsibility for those things that you contribute to where you are sexually.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah. Number three, “One specific concrete thing I need from you to make this better is X.” So maybe you’ve just said, “I’m not romantic enough but what I really need from you is to hire a regular babysitter on Friday night so that I know I have to plan Friday nights”, or whatever. It’s just something that your partner can do that would really help.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Then the last one, “From my end, I commit to making things even better by …”, and stating something again, concrete that you’re able to do. “I commit to plan two date nights in the coming future.” “I commit to telling you more what I like and what I don’t like in bed.” Anything like that that you can just say, “this is what I’m bringing … Again, I’m bringing to the table, I commit to kind of help resolve both of the weaknesses that you said, the weaknesses that I said, this is how I commit to trying to resolve them on my side.”

Laurie Watson:                  Yep. Then we’re not going to ask you to make love after this because we know you might need to kind of soothe your feathers after this, but we want you to rest and maybe walk and exercise and know that exercise actually improves arousal preceding a sexual incident. So maybe you take a nap, then you go for a long walk and then you want to come home to the hotel room. What we suggest here is eat appetizers and drink lightly and then make love.

Adam Matthews:             Then go to dinner.

Laurie Watson:                  Then go to dinner right after that. We do not want to go to dinner first. That’s a bad formula.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Then finally, the last thing, expanding your sexual repertoire. This really is about just bringing new things within a low risk situation. Right? It is risky a lot of times to introduce new things, but when you’ve kind of dedicated a weekend to improving your sex life, making it a priority, to talking about it openly and raising your awareness of what’s going on, this can be a great time to introduce new things and expand what you know sexually.

Laurie Watson:                  So this is probably Sunday morning and what we suggest is that you focus on one of four areas basically about variety. So it might be varying your pacing. Maybe you always make love in a lighthearted way and you want to make it a little more intense or in technique. So you do it the same way and you’re going to try something else, some other technique to make it happen. Maybe you always use a vibrator and this time you don’t and you just make it really, really slow. Maybe the sexual act, so it’s maybe you have intercourse all the time or maybe you have oral sex all the time and this time you’re going to switch it up. You’re going to do something else. Also sexual positions. So we’re asking for a stretch that brings more variety into your sex life that really expands your sexual repertoire. I mean, maybe you want to go home and for the next quarter you’re doing the same old thing, but I think when you’re away it’s a good opportunity to try something new, to look forward to that. This is really helpful.

Adam Matthews:             So the exercise specifically, really it just begins with each of those things. It’s fantasizing. When you’ve chosen that area, fantasizing out loud to each other while discovering what would be fast or slow, what would be pleasurable if you move faster, what would be pleasurable if you move slower, more encounter.

Laurie Watson:                  A technique challenge would be something like practice edging, which is basically bringing each other close to orgasm and then stopping right there and that creates really high arousal.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Then being able to just brainstorm, if it’s sex acts in which you’re going to venture out in, listing as many of them as you can think of without being judgemental. Right? It doesn’t mean you have to do them, but you’re just listing them and then after you make that list in 15 or 20 minutes, then just circling to that you’d be willing to try and then actually doing them.

Laurie Watson:                  Do them! Try it.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Then sexual positions. Right?

Laurie Watson:                  Right. Sexual positions. Couples have favorite positions that maybe help them reach climax, but try something else. On the bed, in the shower, standing up. Okay. So we have basically one weekend to better sex and we want to go through that really quickly with you again. You want to prioritize intimacy. Everybody knows what they’re getting into here. You’re going to fine tune what works and then you’re going to expand your sexual repertoire. So have fun, you guys. I hope this weekend works. I want to hear feedback.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, it sounds like a good weekend.

Laurie Watson:                  Yeah.

Adam Matthews:             Positive.

Laurie Watson:                  So we have something to tell you all.

Adam Matthews:             Yes, it is a hard thing to talk about, but we need to let you know that I will be leaving the podcast in a couple of weeks. Yeah, it’s a hard decision to come to, but it’s one where I need to focus on some other things in life and kind of move on. It’s been a great season. One of the highlights of my career, honestly, and we’ll talk more about it as the last show gets closer, but you have a great person coming on.

Laurie Watson:                  I do.

Adam Matthews:             Excited about that next phase for Foreplay.

Laurie Watson:                  But I’m going to miss you terribly. When Adam told me this, I cried for two weeks. It’s just like, “You are kidding me”, but I understand it and I support you and I’m glad for you, but I’m going to miss you.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, I will miss you as well. I’ll miss the show. I’ll miss the interaction with our listeners for sure. But everything kind of has a season I think. So for me it’s just time to move on to something else.

Laurie Watson:                  Right. Any of you who would like to reach out to Adam to thank him or express your gratitude for all he’s given, please send us a message at info@foreplayrst.com

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, that would be nice. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost three years now.

Laurie Watson:                  Three and a half almost.

Adam Matthews:             Three and a half almost. It’s seemed to fly by.

Laurie Watson:                  It flew by.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah. Tons of episodes, tons of memories.

Laurie Watson:                  We’re going to talk about what we learned and how we developed, and we’re going to share our bloopers with you.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, yeah. Not all of them. Some of them are rather racy, but yeah, just glad to have been a part of this and really thankful for this opportunity. So we’ll talk more, I think-

Laurie Watson:                  In two weeks.

Adam Matthews:             In two weeks.

Laurie Watson:                  So next week we’re going to do another one on-

Adam Matthews:             Money.

Laurie Watson:                  We’re going to talk about pursuers and distancers and money and then we’ll say goodbye to Adam.

Adam Matthews:             Yeah, on the next one. So thanks for letting me share this space and we’ll talk more about it going forward and kind of introduce your new host and it’ll be great.

Laurie Watson:                  Good. Well, you know I love you, dude.

Adam Matthews:             I love you too. Thanks for all the memories, guys, and we’ll talk more soon.

Speaker 3:                           You can now call in your questions to the Foreplay question voicemail. Dial 833 my 4play. That’s 833, the number four, play, and we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes.

Laurie Watson:                  Hey, help us stay on top here at Foreplay. We’d love it if you would subscribe and share it with your friends and please take one sec and rate and review us. Thanks so much.

Speaker 3:                           All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed clinician or as medical advice from a doctor.

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