Words: Nicci Talbot
Sex in the news…
Marital therapist Andrew G Marshall explains how to keep the spark alive in bed – stopping mid-shag to have a nice cup of tea. It’s not about new toys, quickies or positions he tells The Independent but small gestures, shared time and intimate moments. ‘If you stop in the middle of love-making to have tea and talk to each other, it shows how desire comes and goes – that sex isn’t just a race to the end. It allows you time to be intimate with each other. Sex which used to last 15 minutes suddenly lasts an hour-and-a-half. Sex doesn’t have to involve going out of your comfort zone – although challenging yourself is good.’
Marshall has a new book and app out with an intriguing title: ‘How to Make Love Like a Prairie Vole: Six Steps to Passionate, Plentiful and Monogamous Sex’ (Bloomsbury, £12.99). He says it’s a shame that too many couples experience a dwindling intimate life or have affairs and end relationships at the point which they could be having much better sex. ‘One myth I particularly want to challenge is that after the first few years it’s downhill all the way and once you get past 40 that’s about it – you’ve got one last chance and you’d better grab it quickly. That encourages all sorts of stupid affairs,’ he says. And an obsession with telescopes and Top Gear 😉
Prairie voles are monogamous creatures and spend their time grooming and cuddling in their burrows. Sex is often a two-day affair and they successfully juggle passion and parenthood, apparently. In contrast, their cousins – meadow voles – live alone, enjoy spontaneous shags after which the male leave the female to bring up the kids alone. It’s interesting to note the differences, which is why they’ve been widely studied.
Sex is fundamental and the glue that binds a relationship if you both want to be physically intimate. It feeds a relationship and is often the first thing to go when things are stressy. Sex and relationship expert Suzi Godson points out that without it you are friends living under the same roof. Marshall says it’s not just about orgasms but the afterglow of sex – being in the moment, held and cared for.
So, tips for better sex:
- Reinvent your sex life every few years, he says. Not just with toys and techniques but look for ways to build confidence and openness.
- Communication – we are scared of talking about sex because it feels like criticism and we don’t like to rock the boat. The solution is to keep it positive and constructive. Talk about what you like and what turns you on and look for ways to build on that. Laughter is a great ice breaker. Go to a comedy gig together. Richard Herring has a hilarious sketch in ‘What is love, anyway?’ about romance and Ferrero Rocher…
- Get the adrenaline and endorphins pumping. I spoke to a writer at Men’s Health magazine recently about ways to keep the spark alive. Tantra teacher Rebecca Lowrie suggests doing fun physical activities together, which get the endorphins racing be it rollerblading, Tango, or horse-riding. Passion coach Vena Ramphal suggests eating food you’ve never had before to spark the tastebuds.
- Don’t assume sex has to be spontaneous and exciting – plan it and prioritise pleasure. We don’t really do this as a culture. Sex tends to be at the bottom of the to-do list once we’ve finished work, chores and socialising. He recommends putting a lock on the bedroom door so the kids get used to it being your private time. I had to laugh, watching Borgen last night when the Danish PM Birgitte did that. The kids banged on door and asked what she and hub were doing and she replied: ‘We’re rearranging the furniture!’. She also instigated a cod vow – sex twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays… Being available 24/7 for your kids is unachievable and knackering so you need to find mutual intimate time when the house will be empty.
- Tell each other when you’re off to bed – don’t presume your partner is telepathic! A hug opens the door for further intimacy.
Loving the reader comments on this one:
‘Tea – a new sex toy? It has to be MADE IN CHINA’.
I can see some co-marketing opportunities here…
Cosy up with a cuppa…how about a series of sexy ads by PG Tips to rival Carte Noire?
Or how about Yogi Tea’s Cinnamon Spice or a cup of fresh spearmint?. Ramphal says it’s a natural breath freshener and much nicer than the chemical mouthwashes. It also leaves a tingle on your tastebuds so a precursor to oral sex, perhaps?
Photo credit: John Fedele @ Veer.