It's a devastating thing for a woman to admit -- that her husband seems to have lost his desire for her. Women often jump to the conclusion that unsatisfying sex is the reason for the chilly temperatures. Yet as often as not, men withdraw from their wives for non-sexual reasons. Check out these eight Do's and Don'ts to see whether any of them might help reignite his spark for you.
- Don't be a diva. Nagging, negative, controlling and bitchy behavior can drive away even the most patient man, especially if you're in the habit of taking your frustrations out on him or expecting him to be at your beck and call. It's hard for a man to feel desire for a woman who throws temper tantrums, constantly complains or makes him walk on eggshells. Ask yourself: Would I want to live with me?
- Don't be a doormat. Do you let him treat you poorly just so he will stay? Do you always go along with his wishes to avoid rocking the boat? If you're afraid to disagree with him or stand up for yourself, or if you feel that you're putting far more into the relationship than he is, it's time to check for footprints on your back. Pushover women are unattractive to men -- at least to the type of men that are worth having.
- Don't just be a mom. We all love our kids; however, a wife who has a child-centered marriage -- where her kids become the identity and purpose of her marriage -- risks losing the intimate connection she has with her husband as a friend and lover. It's okay to miss a Saturday soccer practice so that you and he can enjoy a romantic weekend getaway. In fact, it's essential. Modeling a healthy couple-centered marriage increases the likelihood that your children will in turn enjoy successful marriages and family lives. So put a lock on your bedroom door and use it.
- Don't ignore his complaints about you and the marriage. Does he complain that you spend too much money? That you're always on Facebook? That you're too messy? That you reject him or criticize his parenting? Instead of getting defensive, ask yourself whether his complaints have merit. Of course, you have your complaints about him, too. Before the distance between the two of you becomes wider, find a way to resolve ongoing conflict in your marriage. If this requires professional help, so be it. If your husband would rather have a root canal that attend marriage counselling, check out the Marriage SOS self-help home program or a good marriage manual.
- Do learn to like yourself and your life. What is making you unhappy? What is stressing you out? What is holding you back? Take responsibility for your own life and make the necessary changes to enhance it. Start taking better care of yourself -- physically and emotionally -- to improve your energy, outlook and self-confidence. Partners who "have it together" are more fun and appealing than those who don't.
- Do show him appreciation. When was the last time you thanked your husband for working hard, being a good dad or just being a fun guy to go through life with? If your answer is, "He isn't any of those things," well, you picked him. Fix your marriage instead of making excuses or assigning blame. If he is those things, count yourself lucky and start showing appreciation for all he does. Sing his praises as a husband and father, especially in front of your kids. The result is pure magic.
- Do roMANce him. You might love candlelight dinners, but they might not hit the mark with your man. Think outside the heart-shaped box. Send the kids to grandma's for the night, snuggle in bed and watch a cheesy sci-fi flick while snacking on some even cheesier nachos. If he's a gamer, challenge him to a round of video games. If he's a car or sports buff, buy his favourite hobby magazine and leave it on the back of the toilet so he can read it "in his office." Yep, it's yucky. But it might be your guy's version of long-stemmed roses.
- Do rethink your sex life. Marriage is a sexual relationship that requires both emotional and physical intimacy; however, marriage problems often show up in the bedroom first. Initiate sex to make him feel desired. Or, if you've been pressuring him for sex, try the opposite - tease him, but let him take the lead. Add spice to a bland sex life by showing more enthusiasm and experimenting with sex toys, lubricants, new positions, erotica, whatever. Shake up your sexual schedule. If your sexual frequency is high but excitement is low, practice delayed gratification to build anticipation. If frequency is low, break out the calendar and pencil it in. Sex is a use-it-or-lose-it type of thing. And in the end, the couple that plays together stays together.
One of my best times was on the cold bathroom tile in a boyfriend's mother's house with Christmas music blasting in the background. As we were unmarried, his family didn't find it appropriate for us to share a bedroom, so we had to sneak around like we were teenagers all over again -- except this time we knew what we were doing! The thrill of breaking the rules never gets old.
Even if you're not traveling for the holidays and instead running around like a madwoman, you probably have deviated from your normal daily routine. Use the disruption in your schedule to stir things up in your sex life by doing something sexually you wouldn't normally do. In other words, go into vacation sex mode. According to research conducted by the Kinsey Institute, couples report <a href="http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/newsletter/smr2008/media08.html" target="_hplink">having more enjoyable sex while they are on vacation</a> because they are temporarily released from the monotony of everyday life.
Generosity is contagious this time of year, and there's no reason not to bring it into the bedroom. Rather than focusing on your big finish, try concentrating on your partner's pleasure. Don't let him or her put on hand (or any other part) on you; this is all about him or her. Ask what your partner wants and if you're doing it juuust right. At the end, if there's an attempt to reciprocate, refuse. It can be your turn another time. Moments of selflessness are good for the soul.
If you return for the holidays to the town where you grew up or lived for a long time previously, you're likely to run into one or two old love interests. If you've always wondered what might have been, there's no harm in flirting with a person who intrigued you way back when and seeing where it leads. Not only are you older, wiser, and sexier, but your worldliness gives you new perspective on that one who got away. It might be a welcome holiday distraction, or as treacly as it seems, something more (cue holiday rom-com movie music now).
That said, while holiday hook-ups may seem like a good way to avoid a silent night -- they can be dangerous territory. Indulge with caution. With all the sentimental hoopla surrounding this time of year, you may be tempted to hook-up so you're not alone. While <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-di-donato/comfort-sex-bad_b_1116113.html" target="_hplink">comfort sex has its benefits</a>, don't give into the idea that you can't enjoy what the season has to offer all by yourself.
This is the one time of year when it's acceptable for adults to ask for what they want. Why limit this mentality to material gifts? Women's mags tell us that men are more receptive to positive reinforcement: "I really like it when you ..." but I find it's much more effective -- and makes me feel much more confident -- to just ask my partner for exactly what I want. We all harbor secret fantasies; here's your chance to be vocal.
Despite the prying of relatives or women you didn't like in high school, bear in mind that you don't have to discuss your sex life with anyone. If you're visiting relatives in a conservative area, someone at one gathering or another may decide to share his or her belief that, for instance, sex outside marriage is wrong. It's better for all involved to nod politely and keep your mind on the last great orgasm you had.
Whether you're single or not, sometimes what you want after another round of dysfunctional family antics -- or just when you find yourself suddenly in the mood -- is a little time alone with the person who knows your body best: you. If it feels weird to pleasure yourself at your parents' house (or your significant other's parents' home), remind yourself that you're an adult, and chances are other people have done the exact same thing in this house many, many times before. Then enjoy.
Whether it's the photoshopped model in the department store perfume ad or the uber toned actors in a holiday flick's sex scene, we're inundated with unrealistic images of the beauty and sex appeal of others -- so much so that sometimes I think we've forgotten how to be grateful for what we have. I know this smacks of 1972 and hand mirrors, but sometime this weekend, when you're getting in or out of the shower, take a look at your naked body in the mirror and for a few minutes refused to participate in the body various influences have planted in all of us. Instead, give yourself compliments. Pick your favorite body parts and think about them at the party later if you feel yourself comparing your body to others'. A huge part of sex is feeling proud of your own body and what it can do. That's the best -- and sexiest -- way I know to go into the New Year.