RETRAIN Your Lover

Week 3: Ask Attractively for What You Want

Congratulations! You're now halfway to ''retraining'' your lover to meet your innermost desires. I hope you had fun practicing getting his attention and complimenting him as discussed in weeks one and two. These are lifelong habits that you can apply for maintaining and increasing pleasure, fun and happiness. The next step now is the actual asking part. The goal this week is how to make your sexual and romantic desires known to him in the most attractive fashion, so that he'll be motivated to change his ways and please you more. I'll let you in on a little secret: Attractive to us guys means (a) encouraging (versus critical) and (b) fun, or the possibility of fun.

Men really do want to please their women, but they want to be in control.

Let's say you want to go out more. While sitting in front of the TV, you say something like, ''I can't remember the last time we went out for a special night. Why don't you take me out anymore?'' If you're lucky, your man will merely sit there quietly and not respond. With that kind of conversation-starter, you can bet he won't jump up and transform into Mr. Romantic Evening Planner. However, if you were to say something like, ''I was just thinking of that night you took me out dancing a few months ago. We had such a great time. Why don't we take a little ride, catch the sunset and maybe get a little something to eat on the way home -- you pick the place. What do you think?'' Now this sounds both encouraging and fun!

What really makes this work is that the woman in the above example is asking for what she wants -- a night out -- without telling her man exactly how to do it. Men really do want to please their women, but they want to be in control. Men enjoy producing and take great pride in their productions. If you tell us how to do it, it takes the fun out of it for us. It also makes us feel bossed around. Let your man use his imagination to please you, and you may discover a whole new, romantic side to him!

Next page: How to ask specifically for what you want -- without scaring him away or hurting his feelings.

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If one of your goals (on your wish list from week one) is to increase the amount of touching, kissing or actual intercourse you and your partner engage in, the way to ''ask'' for that may be to flirt with your partner during your night out, do to him what you want done to you (more touching and kissing) or drop some not-so-subtle hints about your plans for when you get back home. Remember, this workshop is intended to help you get and stay in the ''connection zone'' in all parts of your relationship, not just in the bedroom. That's why it's important for you to feel close and connected during a night out, while sharing a Saturday afternoon in the park, even over dinner surrounded by your children. When the foundation of your relationship is solid -- and you feel safe and loved -- you'll feel confident enough to express yourself and your needs in the bedroom, and improve your sex life.

You must feel good about yourself and deserving of having your desires satisfied to get what you want from your partner.

Asking specifically for what you want sexually is often difficult for women, especially when it comes to tweaking your partner's technique. You may be (understandably) nervous about hurting your man's feelings and also uncomfortable about using specific sexual language. My advice for you in regard to the latter issue is to share fully with your partner using as much ''I'' language as possible. For example, to get him to do more of something, you could say, ''That feels so good,'' or ''Mmm, don't stop, I love what you're doing,'' both of which send a clear, positive message. If what you really want during sex is to enjoy the intimacy more (and not rush right to the finish line), say so -- in a positive way. Tell your partner how you great he makes you feel when you're kissing and touching, tell him you want to slow down and enjoy his body more, tell him you want to savor the moment! However, don't hint that he's rushing you, acting selfishly or, in short, doing something wrong. Remember, acknowledging his greatness will get you what you want; criticizing him will get you nowhere.

If you want him to stop doing something in the bedroom or to start doing something he's told you he doesn't like, you'll be better off discussing this outside of the bedroom rather than in it. Talking about changing his intimate ways during your most passionate moments can dampen the mood and, in some cases, end the session and hurt his feelings. Again, use as much ''I'' language as possible, talk about what you like, then suggest a few new moves or changes in the regular routine, all the while focusing on increased enjoyment rather than on any lack thereof.

Next page: How to feel worthy.

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Feeling good about yourself -- and feeling deserving of having your desires satisfied -- when you ask cannot be understated. If you don't feel deserving, men will pick up on that. Try to figure out why you don't feel that you deserve sexual and romantic satisfaction (Because, of course, you do!) before you approach your partner with your wish list in mind. If you can't figure it out, make ''I'm worthy'' your mantra for as many days as it takes for you to believe it. Your man may grumble at your requests at first, and if you're not feeling worthy, it can really knock your self-confidence. If you're feeling positive, you'll see his grumble for what it is -- just his engine getting started -- and you won't be so easily deterred. In fact, you'll be excited that at least he's heard you!

My final word of advice on asking for what you want: Think about him while you think about you. Focusing (and satisfying) his wants and needs is going to go a long way toward getting you what you want. While you may be tempted to hold back what you know pleases him until he satisfies you, I urge you not to play that game. Whether you're looking for more romance or passion in your relationship, remember (and please excuse the cliche), you'll get more bees with honey than with vinegar. I'll leave it at that.

Keep in mind that retraining your lover is a personal, individual adventure. There's no one trick every woman can use to make her man a better lover. So don't give up. Just keep using your imagination and the tips I've offered here. If, however, you start to feel really stuck -- like you're not getting anywhere despite your best efforts -- you may need to seek professional help to get at some underlying issues.

What do you want your man to change the most? Think of it this way: Picture your fantasy lover. What's his best sexual move (that you'd love to teach your real guy to do)? Share your thoughts with other iVillagers here.

Tune in next week for the final week of this workshop, when you'll learn how to keep those positive changes going and affirm the process.

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