We have had a great time listening to and talking with Mary Jo Rapini, our pal+resource for helping us put our minds to our sexuality. We asked her about the advice we hear a lot: Making an appointment for sex. And, she is all for it.
“But it’s not a business appointment you're making,” she says. “Don’t be confused. What you are making ought to be more of a play date.
“We have to bring pleasure and playfulness back into the bedroom, and back into our experience of sex, especially as we get older. And the nice thing about being older, is — we have more time. No more awkward speed-sex after the kids have gone to bed. If we can make the time for a round of golf, we can certainly make the time to be together, for a half an hour or an hour or three hours, to play, to have fun, to touch and cuddle, and to have great sex.
“When couples come to me for counseling, I send them through their first assignments. It’s very relaxing, by the way, to have homework to do that is broken down into these discreet assignments. It helps people stay focused on one principle at a time, and that helps us relearn more thoroughly, so I wouldn’t skip those first assignments if you are trying this at home, on your own, without a counselor to coach you along.
“Next, I tell them they have to make time for each other, two to three times each week. An hour-long session. Write the appointments on their calendar. They can come up with a cute code-word for it, but it’s got to be on the main calendar they use throughout their week to stay on track. On the morning of a day with a scheduled appointment, they should remind one another that the appointment is coming, and if they can work it out, keep the reminders going throughout the day. Those reminders ought to be playful. They can include lunchbox notes, tantalizing vows, or texts or emails or phone calls. Flowers or candy. Whatever. Just make it obvious that you are thinking about one another, and looking forward to your time together.
"For your first few weeks of hour-long dates, forget intercourse. Use the time to eat fruit and cheese together, with tea or wine, or try a bubble bath, or dancing to music. The important thing is to block the time to spend with your best friend/lover. The time goes fast, so use it to really connect.
“And I tell them they need to prepare their body for this appointment. Men, take a shower. Everybody likes a clean body. Women, take time with your own body, bathing, using lotion, dressing in something that makes you feel good, running your hands over your body. Women take longer to get ready for sex the older we get. Just a little more time for arousal. Both partners, use your imagination to think about the time ahead and replay the sexual talks you have been having.
"When you are ready to include more sexual play, get ready in advance of your "dates" by having your lubes and touch toys, massage candles and tasty things ready for your evening together. Clean sheets when you do plan to make love on your bed.
“That is, pamper yourselves. Make this a special time. Build toward it. Make it important, because it really is important. Make it memorable, and the desire will build with every encounter. In short, make it as good for your imagination as it is for your body, and you can’t go wrong.”
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.