As a couples mediator, I can state with certainty that marriage problems often show up in the bedroom first. For that reason, it's important for a woman to stay sexual. It's important for men to stay sexual, too; however, women often set the tone when it comes to sex. If she's not enjoying it, her husband won't -- or shouldn't -- be enjoying it either.
Women often complain that they "don't feel sexy" any more. Weight gain, normal aging and other body changes, the daily grind, the demands of kids and family life, sexual routine and familiarity, relationship issues and pure exhaustion can all make a woman feel less sexual. If this sounds like you, here are eight steps to go from feeling like a fat cat to purring like a sex kitten.
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While you don't need a dungeon to dabble in BDSM, you should eroticize your bedroom. Get rid of the kids' toys, your laptop and the loads of dirty laundry. Replace your cotton sheets with satin, burn some incense and put a red bulb in your bedside lamp.
Sexual anticipation is a big part of BDSM. Roll the dice to determine who will be dominant. Whoever wins should plan out a sexual experience for his or her partner and then build erotic expectation by dropping hints (or warnings) about what is to come.
All that leather and latex in BDSM has a purpose. It adds tactile and visual novelty by changing the way a partner's body feels and looks during sex. Change something about yourself. More vamp, less Victoria's Secret. Wear a new fragrance or a temporary tattoo.
Whether you use hand-cuffs or cotton rope, restraint gear can help the dominant partner indulge in a playful sense of sexual control while the submissive partner revels in erotic vulnerability. Try restraint in different positions. Spread-eagle on the bed is great. So is standing with arms overhead: Tie your partner's wrists to a high door hook or a shower rod. This exposes the sensitive stretch of skin along the sides of the body, which you can then kiss, tickle or scratch in a pleasurable way, leaving a trail of goose-bumps in your wake. "Order" the submissive partner to keep his or her legs open while you follow the path south.
Sensory deprivation is another element of BDSM that couples can adapt to mainstream sex. When eyesight is restricted, the other senses are heightened. Spritz a pair of stockings with perfume and use them to blindfold him, or have him blindfold you with a necktie that smells of his cologne.
Playful spanking increases blood flow to the buttocks and genital region, which increases pleasure and sensation. Add a role-play element for extra impact.
Run an ice cube over your restrained, blind-folded partner's spanked bottom for a surprising yet soothing temperature change. Slide the cube over his or her nipples and genitals and follow the icy trail with hot exhalations and licks of your tongue.
This involves dripping warm wax onto a partner's bare flesh (not the genitals) and watching the sudden flicker of pain fade into lingering pleasure. Use a specialty candle designed for this, as regular candles will burn the skin.
1. Take better care of yourself. You don't have to be a 20-year-old, size two to be sexual. Look and feel as good as you can for your age. Even if you're overweight and out of shape, improving your physical fitness can quickly increase your energy, flexibility and sexual confidence. Get enough sleep, watch what you eat and manage your stress. If you're still self-conscious about your body, leave some items on during sex. A bra, garter, high-stockings or even a teddy can cover your flaws, real or perceived, so that you can relax and get into it.
2. Embrace your femininity. Think Cleopatra: Not a natural beauty, this famous Egyptian queen managed to seduce the ancient world's two most powerful men with her femme fatale sensuality -- not to mention her cut-throat feminine wiles. Sensualize your voice tone and body language. After all, sexy is a state of mind.
3. Update your sexual skills. Women often lose interest in sex because, well, it can get boring. Where's the excitement if you know what move your man is going to do next? Take the lead by learning some new sex techniques, sexual positions or by introducing sex toys or other erotic aides. You'll love the effect this has on your man and you'll inspire him to step-up and improve his own game. Here's a hot oral-sex tip he will love: Before you fellate him, purse your lips and press them against the head of his penis, stretching back the skin of the glans before letting his length sink into your mouth. The resistance -- and the anticipation -- are guaranteed to please.
4. Turn your bedroom into a boudoir. Look around your bedroom. What do you see? Laundry on the floor, kids' Lego pieces on the floor and a laptop on the nightstand? Does your bedroom have boring beige walls and sterile blinds? Sex it up! Paint some colour on the walls, hang luxurious drapes, put sensual satin sheets on the bed, soften the lighting, burn some incense or aromatherapy and play some classical music. Set the mood for sex.
5. See yourself at your sexiest. Now that your bedroom looks sexier than ever, it's your turn. Visit a fine lingerie shop and have their experienced staff recommend items that would look the best on you. Not only are they the pros, but they'll likely choose something you normally wouldn't. And that in itself can add some variety to your love life. To capture your sex kitten look forever, splurge on a boudoir shoot and surprise your partner with a personalized, erotic photo album.
6. Fix what's broken in your relationship. There's no point doing backflips in bed if your husband doesn't make you feel loved, respected and desired, or if he isn't making a similar effort to make you happy. Sex is an act of love between committed partners. You should never feel guilt-tripped or pressured to have it, and it should always make you feel better about yourself, your partner and your marriage. If it doesn't, something is wrong in your relationship.
7. Fight familiarity. Change something about yourself -- try a new perfume, apply a temporary tattoo or wear some body jewelry. Ask your partner to change his cologne, or grow or shave a beard. Change your sexual routine, too. Do you always have sex at night? Set the alarm a half-hour earlier and have a morning quickie, or wake your partner up in the middle of the night to share a dirty dream. Then let nature take its course. Do you always have sex in bed? Try the couch, shower or even the floor for a different perspective. These small changes can combat the passion-slaying effects of sexual familiarity.
8. Find out what turns you on. Erotica? Soft or couple-friendly porn? Fantasy? Sex toys? Tantric sex? Being restrained or blind-folded? Having your partner run his beard down your back or kiss the back of your knees? Indulge your own sexual desires. Not only will you get more enjoyment from sex, you'll arouse your partner in the process. Many men are turned on by the sight of a rapturous woman.
Perhaps the biggest quality of the stereotypical "sex kitten" is her attitude toward sex -playful, positive, confident and enthusiastic. That's pretty good advice. Keep an open mind and have a good attitude toward sex. After all, marriage is a sexual relationship and the more you can embrace and enjoy meaningful physical intimacy, the stronger your marriage will be.
Visit Debra Macleod at www.MarriageSOS.com for sex and relationship help.