Too Tired for "Heat"

Q: I have been married for only eight months now, and even though my relationship with my husband has never been heated or passionate, I want to change that. How can I add passion, romance and heat to my marriage? We don't get much time alone; he has three kids and I have one (from previous marriages). I have tried to read as much as possible online, but everyone says the same thing -- give him a sex coupon book. But I am modest and shy, and initiating intimacy is tough for me. I want to learn how to do it without fear.--from iVillager christy_west

A: You have already taken the first -- and often the hardest -- step just by asking for help and wanting to do something to fix a sex life that needs a passion injection. Now, here's what I'd do: First up, don't beat yourself up about this. You've got four children around, and (God bless them) children are a definite lust dampener. You're tired most of the time and have little privacy, so I wouldn't put unrealistic expectations on your sex life -- it's unlikely you've got the time or energy for wild, passionate sex seven nights a week. Instead, set aside some time on the weekend, preferably at a time when you're both a little relaxed. It's not sex time, it's just time for the two of you to connect. Do you have a support system -- maybe grandparents or friends who wouldn't mind baby-sitting for a few hours over the weekend? Talk to your husband and tell him you think you both need private time together to do something nice. Let him help you organize this, and ask that he make it a priority -- that he not organize anything else for that time.

Once you've done that, start by simply doing sensuous things together, rather than having sex. Offer to give him a massage (few people will resist) or have a bath together while drinking a bottle of bubbly. The aim initially isn't to have both of you frothing at the mouth with passion, just to connect so you feel more intimate. Once you're feeling braver, move it onto sex. Maybe during the massage, you take your top off. Christy, we're all a bit shy when it comes to sex -- particularly when suggesting something new. So again, it's quite normal. Start communicating through body language first. When your husband does something you like, over-exaggerate your body language: moan a little, move closer, kiss him harder. When he does something you don't like, move your body away so the message is equally as clear. Once you start doing this, you'll feel more confident. Then you can try talking to him during sex. Initially, just make a noise. Say ''Ummm'' or ''That's nice.'' It's funny, but once you've broken the silence, it's pretty easy from there to say ''Don't stop now'' or ''Honey, could you do that for longer?'' Once you've done all that, that's the time to make things racier. You need to work up to it, so you're both comfortable together first.

Then it's very easy to suggest something that you'd like to try. Just say, ''I read in the paper today/a friend was telling me/I saw a TV show about ..." whatever it is you'd like to try. Sure, it's a white lie, but who's telling? Say you'd like to try watching a racy film. Why not say, ''I read in the paper today that 60 percent of couples like watching sexy films. Who'd have thought?'' You'll be able to tell by his response what he thinks about it. If he looks interested, say, ''How about we get one out, just for a laugh, this weekend?'' (By the way, if you're lost for ideas on what to suggest, get a copy of my first book, Hot Sex, which is packed with them.) A great way to suggest things that are wild is also to say ''I had a dream last night where you and I were making love outside/using a sex toy/(whatever you'd like to try).'' Again, it's foolproof because if he looks aghast or uninterested, all you need to say is ''Yes, it was a weird dream! I don't know where that came from.'' If he looks interested, it's pretty easy then to move on to, ''Maybe there's something in it. Why don't we give it a try?''

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