What happens when you can't have sex?
Sure, it's easy for someone to blithely say, "If your guy can't go three months, your relationship isn't what it should be," but in reality, this is a tough situation that can't be so easily dismissed.
After recently being asked this question, we hooked up with – pun intended – sex therapist Sandor Gardor, PhD and explored the subject.
I've been put on "pelvic rest" for the remainder of my pregnancy – I'm not supposed to even orgasm. It's been four weeks and we have at least 10 to go. Then, of course, the baby will be here, which isn't the most romantic time. How can I deal with my frustration and maintain our connection?
Though it's almost the opposite of the questions we've brought him in the past, he had a lot to say and gave us some great advice. Gardor responds:
First of all, I want to commend you for tackling this now and acknowledging that it's a problem for both you and your husband. Too many couples say, 'Okay' and then find themselves struggling to re-create that intimate bond later, which is a lot harder.
The first thing you can do is maintain a sense of humor about the situation. It's easy to get angry, but the more you can laugh at it and admit that it's ridiculous, the more you'll foster a 'we're-in-this-together' team spirit.
You may not realize this, but often the first thing a sex therapist does is tell a couple to stop having sex and start enjoying all the other things about their relationship. Our society is so orgasm-focused that it's difficult to learn how to savor and enjoy the rest of the experience. So what you're getting is sort of a sex-therapy boot camp.
He then gave the following tips.
View this period as both being on an adventure together
Try to see this as an adventure more than a challenge – a way to explore other ways to be together that feel good without orgasm. With luck, you'll find stuff you like so much, you'll add it to your sexual repertoire even after your pelvic rest (and childbirth, and those first eight weeks…) are over.
The rich world of the sensual
Look for alternatives to sexual touch – think "sensual" instead. Explore differences in temperature (ice cubes, warm wax) or in texture (feathers, fur).
Expand on this by getting a couples massage or learning to massage each other – his can have a "happy ending." Have him read material like 10 sensual massage moves that will make her melt every time so he doesn't just plow ahead like a work horse.
"It won't fix your frustration, but it will keep you two touching, caressing, and feeling physically connected."
If you're feeling adventurous, explore tantric sex. Go buy the highest quality tome on tantric positions and techniques available in your local bookstore, and then decide to ban your phone from the bedroom while you read it together and find ways to explore.
Tantric sex is an Indian approach to spiritual lovemaking that helps you use erotic energy to hit high, ecstatic states without orgasm, circulating sexual energy throughout your body rather than releasing it.
Use anticipation as a tool to develop your eroticism
I'd add this idea to Gardor's excellent tips: Keep a running tally of the things you do just for him – joking, not serious – and remind him of the "payback" you two will indulge in when you get your groove back.
This will keep him happy now while also building anticipation for later, and anticipation is deeply erotic. Additional anticipation builders:
- Write each other a letter about what you each think is the most erotic thing you have experienced together, and detail what you'd like to do when the pelvic rest period (or whatever is keeping you from having sex) is over.
- Research something sexual together that will enhance your sexual highs when you can finally get back to lovemaking. Eg. sex positions or aphrodisiacs. How many are there? Which do you think will work for you? Why not make a list and try them all?
- Does your bedroom have a copy of the Kama Sutra? Why not?
Non-impact sweat-builders like elliptical training or swimming don't just keep your metabolism and circulation up – they also give you endorphins. And the whole of two people releasing endorphins together are greater than the sum of its parts.
Not quite as many as you're used to ;), but enough to keep you from punching the smug making-out couple on the park bench. (Been there, almost punched that.)
Throughout this all, remember to maintain that "you-and-me-against-the-world" feeling that's so important to bonding with another human being.
How do you stay connected without sex? Have another question you'd like to us to explore with an expert? Tell all in the comment section!