By Dr. Cheryl Fraser
As a psychologist, sex therapist, and creator of the online couples program Become Passion, my work is all about helping couples create more connection, fun, desire and yes, yummy sex. Because let’s face it, in long-term relationships (and by that I mean you’ve been together more than 2 years) lovers can become lazy and caught in routines – not to mention being swept up in the busyness of life – and neglect sexual wellness.
This can be even more of a problem in the winter. Sunshine, vacation time, and bikinis give you more carefree, playful time with your partner, so summer often enhances your sex life. Winter? Not so much. So let’s change that, by bringing mindfulness to your sexual life and making sure you prioritize your indoor activities this season.
1. Schedule Sex
For most of us, winter means a change in weather and more time cooped up inside. For too many couples – as we saw during the pandemic lockdowns – this leads to more squabbling, more distance, and relationship strain. And less sex. This year, I want you to prioritize passion. Like many sex therapists, I recommend couples schedule sex. Why? Well, if you wait around for what is dubbed spontaneous desire – which means you are both turned on at the same time – you might be waiting until the spring thaws before you make love again.
Instead, the science of desire teaches us that we need to cultivate responsive desire – and that means schedule sex (at least once a week) and make love even if you don’t feel like it. Because once you begin to touch and tease your body will respond. Really. And after indulging in intimate aftercare sex? You will be very glad you made the effort.
2. Try Mindful Sex
Stop being a lazy lover and get creative with that extra indoor time. The average sexual encounter – in North America anyway – lasts a mere 7 minutes. And I know you can do better. Take some time this winter season and explore mindful sex. Slow down. Explore your lovers’ entire body, touching and teasing everywhere – instead of just pressing the buttons you are used to pressing. Snowed in? Power outage? Trapped at home? Enjoy a long, luscious lovemaking session.
*If you want some starter tips on tantra and mindful sex, check out my book Buddha’s Bedroom and Better Sex through Mindfulness by my friend Lori Brotto.
3. Turn SAD into Connected and Content
Another way the winter season can change your sexual life is because the busy, dark months impact your overall mood and psychological well being. Whether you suffer from seasonal affective disorder or are simply worn out by the holiday hustle, the cold wet weather, the financial pressures – winter can contribute to low mood, anxiety, stress or fatigue (even if you live in a sunny climate). Not exactly a prescription for passion, is it?
But I want to strongly encourage you to remember that making love is healthy and healing. Orgasms relax you, reduce anxiety, increase endorphins and serotonin and even more importantly, renew your emotional connection to your sweetheart. Even if you are struggling, creating time for your sexual life is well worth it – love heals, renews, and even fills our depleted energy tank.
4. Sleep Naked
Let’s face it, a lot of us are less active in the winter, and we may eat more delicious delicacies and drink more luxurious libations. When we (over) indulge and are less active, we may put on a few pounds and have less energy (sugar crash anyone?) If you want to feel well this winter, prioritize wellness by practicing moderation – enjoy the hell out of granny’s mince pies but don’t binge. And no matter the weather, bundle up and get outside for exercise, fresh air, and heck, to look at the holiday lights.
But if being more sedentary and perhaps chubby makes you feel self conscious about your body that can negatively impact your sex drive, too.. I don’t want you to feel bad about your body and hide in baggy sweats until spring. I want you to bust that negative story and get naked, together. So take a bath or shower with your sweetheart regularly, soap each other sensually, and enjoy being nude together.
Keep your bedroom cold, but your bed warm – piled with heavy blankets or a cozy duvet, and made with soft, sensual flannel sheets – then sleep naked. Really. The touch of skin on skin as you cuddle yourselves to sleep will activate your parasympathetic nervous system – which is calming and connecting. And sometimes, arousing.
5. Make the Holidays Sexy
No matter what you celebrate, the winter season usually involves spending more time than usual visiting family, shopping for gifts, and running from event to party to school concert. So it’s no wonder your roles as parents and as kids to your own parents take over. In other words, you lose contact with yourselves as lovers. So this winter, I want you to bring the sexy back.
Going home for the holidays? Turn yourselves on by having sex in your childhood bedroom. Be as quiet as possible – that makes it even more intense – and whisper your adolescent sexual fantasies to each other. And one holiday gift I ask all the couples in the Become Passion program to do? Make your sweetie a sexy stocking. No matter what you celebrate, you can adapt this idea as you wish. The premise is simple.
Stuff the stocking with spicy toys and treats from a body of bubbly to a kinky toy to a blindfold. Then write some sexy IOU’s – IOU a romantic evening out that ends in bed, IOU a spectacular erotic massage with a very happy ending – you get the gist – and add them to the pile. This thoughtful, sexy gift will give your relationship a boost and help bring the sexy back.
And that is really important – great couples are strong communicators, great friends, enjoy their turbulent, messy busy lives with kids, mortgages, careers and more – but they make time to make love. They purposefully pursue romance. They make an effort to fall in love, over and over, with the one they are already with.
Dr. Cheryl Fraser is known to be sharp, frank and fearless. The Buddhist sex therapist, psychologist, author, and speaker has helped thousands of couples jumpstart their love life and create passion that lasts a lifetime. Dr. Cheryl’s online immersion program for couples, Become Passion, brings her work to your own living room. Learn more and get on the waitlist now. Listen to her wildly popular podcast Sex, Love & Elephants here or grab your copy of her book, Buddha’s Bedroom: The Mindful Loving Path to Sexual Passion and Lifelong Intimacy. To take the first step towards resuscitating your relationship or to learn more about Dr. Cheryl, visit her website or check out her videos on YouTube.