I don’t know if you are aware of this, but sex is hard.
You don’t want it be that way. No. You want it to be effortless. You want it to be smooth or maybe gentle. You want it to be passionate and romantic; or, at times, maybe you want it to be raunchy or weird.
You want it to be how it is depicted in movies or on cable television.
When it’s over, you want the sheets to drape over you and your partner, covering up just the right places.
However, it is actually none of those things.
Sex is awkward. It’s embarrassing and rushed. It’s messy. It’s nerve wracking and requires a lot of concentration, but not too much concentration, because then you’ll overthink it. It’s exhausting and uncomfortable and frustrating.
If, for you, sex actually is effortless, passionate, et. al—my instinct is to say that you’re doing it wrong. But that’s not true at all. You’re probably doing it right. And my question to you is, just how are you doing it?
Somewhat recently, my wife and I watched that mini-series “The Night Manager.” There is a scene where Tom Hiddleston bangs the mistress of his nemesis—the man he has been sent deep undercover to bring down. The sexual tension between the Hiddleston and this gal, leading up to that point, is palpable and unnerving. It culminates in the two of them rushing into a hotel room, where Hiddleston proceeds to pull down a portion of his pants, so his bare ass is exposed (something for the ladies!), while his scene partner, Elizabeth Debicki, is pressed up against the hotel room wall in an effort to support her weight, and somehow, they are able to bang while standing up.
The act only lasts a few moments before he’s all done, and she dismounts, as they stand basking in an awkward, dangerous afterglow of what they just did.
After watching this highly un-sensual scene, we were both left feeling a little perplexed at just how that was supposed to work in the real world.
My wife and I have been married for almost eight years; prior to that, we were courting for around four. You grow together, sure—and your love matures. You grow out of the initial youthful physical excitement that comes along with the beginnings of a relationship—i.e. not being able to keep your hands off of each other, and the flattery of thinking “this person wants to do that with me?!?”
Once you grow out of that excitement, though, what takes its place?
You get older and your level of desire changes. Your sex drive wanes. You become too self-conscious and self aware; you cannot stand the thought of yourself without clothing on. You’re tired all the time, and are unable to fathom putting forth the effort that goes into marginally enjoyable intimate acts.
You become busy with family, extracurriculars, or a demanding career, and there are moments when it seems like there literally isn’t time to have sex. And if you think there is time, one of you has to work up the courage to initiate it.
But when do you do that? And how do you do that?
The morning is almost completely out of the question. Neither of you have brushed your teeth yet; and, perhaps you and your partner both wear incredibly sexy mouth guards during the night to prevent jaw clenching or teeth grinding.
And my guess is that there is nothing more annoying than being half asleep, only to be woken up by your partner’s incessant pawing at you, and possibly poking at your backside with a hard on.
What about in the evening, after work?
Not likely. The last thing you probably want to do after getting home from a long day of work is an activity that requires any effort. Plus, someone has to make dinner. And do the dishes. And take out the garbage. And fold the laundry.
Okay—what about at bedtime?
This seems like it would make the most sense logistically, simply because you are both in the bed without a ton of other distractions. Isn’t that the time when intimacy is supposed to occur? That is, at least, how it’s depicted in movies.
There’s a good chance it’s pretty late at night, so unless you’ve retired to your chambers earlier to accommodate the time a proposed intimate interlude would take, all while still getting to sleep at a decent hour—making the suggestion at bedtime will more than likely be met with a resounding, “No. I’m too tired.”
Here, it seems worth noting that when met with a “no,” it is imperative that you take it in stride and not begin sulking. I have been provided with gentle reminders time and time again that pouting is not a good look for me in these situations.
If you somehow manage to think that there is, in fact, a good or right time of day for this to occur, the next challenge is initiation.
Contrary to what you may believe, your partner cannot read your mind. So if you’ve been walking around all day thinking, “Damn, we should have sex tonight,” more than likely, you are the only one who has that information, and it’s up to you, as a grown-ass man or woman, to take responsibility and find a tactful way to make it happen.
Honestly, it’s best just to be straightforward on the matter and ask. Yes, such a direct approach is not very romantic, but it gets the question out there and leaves little room for misinterpretation. The method of dropping subtle hints all evening—being extra affectionate, following your partner around from room to room—can be misinterpreted, confusing, or just become plain annoying.
Then, of course, there is the act of intimacy itself. The moment you’ve been waiting for.
As soon as the clothes come off, it’s important to understand that you and your partner may differ in the sense that they may not be as easily “ready to go” as perhaps you may be—some finessing may be required. You may need to assist in setting the mood.
“You can’t just expect me to turn into some kind of sex demon,” my wife told me recently during a conversation. And she’s right, I shouldn’t expect that.
Sex is hard; it takes work, and you have to conjure the sex demon—there’s myriad ways one can attempt to do that, and none of them include painting a pentagram on your chest with edible body chocolate.
You could try the incorporation of what is politely referred to as a ‘marital aid,’ or dust off infrequently worn lingerie. Or if you can stand it, and are able to not take yourselves very seriously, you could try watching an ‘adult film’ together.
However, the most effective way to conjure the sex demon is through communication.
That sounds like something Oprah would say, I suppose, but we’re all so repressed and puritanical deep down, whether we want to admit or not, that discussing acts of intimacy with your partner or spouse can be embarrassing, even though it shouldn’t be. But being told, “You do this thing and I really don’t like that,” or asking, “What can I do to make you feel more relaxed,” may just provide you with the key that will unlock the door that the sex demon has been hiding behind.
An expert at romance, Kevin Krein has written 'The Bearded Life' for three years. He's operates the award winning music blog Anhedonic Headphones, and is a contributing writer to Bearded Gentlemen Music. He may be best known for being a cool rabbit dad. Follow his romantic tweets: @KevEFly.