A burning question that’s been in my inbox for … about five years (I started out on my blog with a lot of really good intentions!): How do I get my shy husband to try something a little wilder with me?
I guess that might depend on your version of “wild.”
I don’t think it’s any secret that a common theme runs through all the stuff I post on here – when you want to do anything, change anything, try anything, stop anything in a sexual relationship, you need to communicate. The only way to keep a relationship healthy is by talking to each other and keeping an open mind – even if it means you’re closing the door on a specific experience.
It’s never easy trying to coax anyone into leaving their comfort zone. My husband has invested 26 years in slowly (and occasionally, quickly) helping me expand and explore my own limits. We’ve tried things I would have never imagined, and some that I never imagined would leave my imagination.
Getting me into this adventure started with a lot of small steps, all of which were great ways to gradually spice up our marriage. We didn’t take a huge leap right into many of the experiences we’ve had, but played them out in our mutual fantasies, often as post-sex conversation … sometimes mid-sex conversation. He was very encouraging for me to open up about my thoughts, and gradually let him in on some of the fantasies I never dreamed I could ever share.
He did a lot of simple things to set that stage – created fun little question and answer games, romantic dinners with a twist. For example, on one birthday, he created a sort of scavenger hunt for me: When I got to my car at work there was a set of envelopes on my seat, numbered. I had to follow each one, in order, before the final destination. He thought of everything to make it easy, a little challenging, but fun as hell. Starting at a lingerie shop for underwear, right through to an outfit and shoes; by the time I met him, I was completely made-up, dressed up and ready for a date.
At Christmas, he put together a “naughty list” stocking for me – which I would open on Christmas Eve after the kids went to bed. It was filled with fun adult gifts and naughty toys, all designed to add a little more sexual excitement to the end of a very stressful month (December is always a toughie).
Along the journey to helping me discover a new sexual side, he encouraged me to let go of the hang-ups I had. I can’t tell you how terrifying it was at first to admit to him about the flirtatious experiences I was enjoying online and at work. There were bumps along the way, more conversations, a bit of back and forth … and it was work. It took effort to not crawl back into my shell and plod along in life never testing the waters again.
Without question, it had to be a challenge for him too. It takes a certain kind of man to shed his own insecurities and let trust take over. I know he struggled at times as well … but he always told me how much more rewarding it was to see his wife developing into an exciting, confident and sexually-engaged woman than it was to remain in a relationship of mundane suburban cohabitation (his words).
My husband gradually introduced ‘new’ things to our relationship as my own comfort level and interest emerged from the depths of my mind. A touch stereotypical, it included lingerie for the bedroom, stiletto heels that would never been seen on me in public, sex toys. We played with the video camera and (pre-digital) the Polaroid camera. All that helped me see, in his eyes, how sexy he thought I was.
It’s amazing how much your sexual confidence grows when you see and hear constant reinforcement from someone you love dearly. Knowing I could be open and vulnerable allowed me to find more of that sexual confidence and my desire to blossom. Once the seal was broken, I wanted even more.
For me, it wasn’t so much about what we were doing from that point on, but more about no longer being afraid to try. I didn’t feel there would be some sort of humiliation or retribution. I had a sense of confidence and freedom to not only participate in some of his ideas for us as a couple, but introduce him to mine. What began as his efforts to get me to be more adventurous turned into a journey we shared.
The other day I wrote about how to establish boundaries when it comes to sexual exploration. Of course, the answer is pretty simple – communication.
But it doesn’t always mean they don’t bend, flex, expand or contract. Boundaries – or at least what we’re willing to do, or not do – change with experience and maturity. They also change when you decide to step outside your comfort zone and explore something that has lived in the deep recesses of your sexual imagination. Bringing those forward is the first step of testing the boundaries, before making a commitment to actually breaking out of your routine.
If we don’t constantly challenge the notion of what we’re comfortable with, then we become pretty boring people. I can’t imagine a life when things are boiled down to “it’s Tuesday, time to pleasure the hubby for the week.”
Unfortunately, I also know that this is a reality for a lot of couples – including people I know.
Challenging your sexual boundaries doesn’t have to be something dramatic. It can be as simple as trying something new: a location, a position … different day of the week. What it does require – as does everything sexual – is communication.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 15 years talking and sharing what goes on in my sexual mind. My husband hasn’t always been the primary listener in that; I’ve confided in girlfriends, family and even on here. But the important part of it for me has been the “sharing.” It’s allowed me to wrap my brain around … my brain. It’s allowed me to come to terms with ideas that will forever remain fantasy, and begin the adventure of turning some others into reality.
Taking the leap to push just one boundary out a little further begins with really internalizing what it is you want from the experience. For example, on a simplistic level, if you want to energize your sex life, breaking routine by taking the initiative when it’s unexpected can really change the game. You have to ask yourself how you are going to approach that challenge. Does it mean a big risk? Nothing really exciting comes without risk, of course …
What are you willing to risk? As adults our tolerance for risk decreases; that is what holds us back more than anything else. We shed the fears of childhood, but take on new fears – fear of rejection, humiliation, even harm and injury (whether emotional or physical). We forget how to be vulnerable.
Expanding your sexual boundaries requires you to embrace that vulnerability.
One of the things that has been on my mind for quite some time – well, years actually – is how do you identify what your sexual boundaries are. We all them – sex acts we’re absolutely game for, experimentation we’ll get into for the happiness of a partner, lines in the sand that won’t get crossed even for a small fortune and the promise of nirvana.
You might think it’s pretty easy, especially if you’re in a long-term, committed relationship. But in actuality, I think that it’s even harder in that situation. Couples tend to settle into assumptions as time goes on, and the sex talk slowly fades into obscurity. I believe that’s how many couples end up in trouble as their relationship goes on. They forget the importance of establishing a verbal connection on the subject of sex – and just because you’ve done something a hundred times, doesn’t mean the next time is a green light.
For me, perhaps one of the best examples of this would be anal – and that’s probably common for a lot of women. Still one of the enduring sexual taboos, when I was younger it was something I was more willing to experiment and indulge in. The sense of “breaking the rules” mixed with a sensation of “sweet hard salami, that hurts!” was enough to fire up the libido, get kinky, naughty and give him something that seemed “forbidden.” But as I have matured (and my sexual preferences along with me), anal has become something more selective and situational. It’s not a part of my sexual routine – and is very dependent on my mood.
Moving from being far more interested in anal to not, meant having to reaffirm what my sexual boundaries were. It’s a very good example of why sexual communication is vital to maintaining a healthy sexual relationship – and sense of adventure with a partner.
And the same goes for my sexual desires. They do evolve, as we do. My interests in my 40s are certainly not the same they were in my 20s. Naturally some have been enlightened by reality … and pure physics; while others I never considered when I was young have edged into my sexual imagination.
Without talking about these with my husband, how would he ever know what was going through my mind?
We’ve been through a fair bit of sexual experimentation as a couple. He’s helped me realize that on many levels, it can be damn fun being a woman. Of course, a lot of us already know that … but when I hear certain things from my female friends and coworkers, I realize I have something unique in my life: I have someone who actively champions my sexuality. He’s helped me overcome some of the engrained Catholic guilt on such topics as masturbation, oral sex and nudity. He’s been my enabler, providing encouragement, opportunity and ‘apparatus’ for me to rediscover my orgasm – both after childbirth (which was a struggle) and a hysterectomy (an even bigger struggle).
More than that, he’s encouraged and supported me to be wildly open with my imagination, and given me ample opportunity to explore some of my fantasies.
The confidence and sense of freedom from jealousy is a significant reason why our relationship has been able to grow and remain exciting.
But … what about those boundaries?
All along, they have been ‘negotiated’ … discussed openly between us (perhaps to a fault instead of allowing for spontaneity). For us, those boundaries aren’t so much about “allowed” and “not allowed” but more about “what would affect our relationship” if something happened. And, as it can be with couples who have been sexually creative, it’s important to understand where compromise can take place. Those “heat of the moment” issues can be extremely challenging – which is why the concept of “what is allowed” can be difficult when your mind and body are fighting against desire and logic.
A few weeks ago I had lunch with a not-so-newly single friend. She was telling me that after being “back on the market” for some time, since the demise of her marriage, that she was beginning to feel like she didn’t really want a relationship anymore.
It’s work, she explained; work to find dates, to get ready for dates, to deal with the expectations of dating in an age of Tinder and swiping left or right. It was work to go through the motions with no clue as to how it was all going to work out. It was work to deal with the reality of failing to find chemistry with a potential mate … not to mention the ones who are only looking for a hook-up (and lie about their intentions).
Of course it’s hard work to establish a new relationship – it’s even more hard work to keep one going and healthy – I offered in rebuttal. But that’s often a very stubborn conversation, I find, with someone who looks upon their last significant relationship as a big lie.
In my supportive-friend role, I was trying to minimize the downside to being single in your 40s (of course, I totally know what that’s all about…not) and how there is someone out there for everyone. The end goal is what should make all that ‘work’ fun.
As the conversation deepened, my friend said it wasn’t so much about the male friendship – something we both have lots of – it was the sex … and how she felt like it wasn’t worth the effort anymore. The too many moments of awkward, uncomfortable – downright, bad – sex was overwhelming.
“I know what I get with my vibrator.”
Once I picked myself up off the floor ….
She said, “Andee, your sex life is with someone who knows you. Your husband knows what you want, how you want it … and you know how to add the right amount of spice.” Hard to disagree with that.
“Imagine life if you didn’t find that guy who you wanted to spend the rest of your life with … and every time you had sex with a guy it was like the first time?”
Hmm, like a sexual ‘Groundhog Day’.
I told my friend that it didn’t sound so bad … but I had forgotten about the truth of first time sex with a new partner.
“You haven’t figured out how to really kiss each other, the sex is awkward … the conversation after sex is awkward. Nobody really knows what the hell they’re doing. It’s not like being young and discovering sex all over again. It’s like you know what good sex is, but your own version of good sex and his version of good sex don’t even come close.”
“And maybe that’s what you think is never going to happen.”
“Retiring from sex is just easier.”
Oh dear lord, don’t say that!
I dealt with this question a long time ago, but it still comes up quite a lot still. The reality is, my perspective isn’t about to change much on it for a number of reasons, but…
Have you ever played on web-camera for an audience? Would you ever do web shows as part of your thing online?
I haven’t played on webcam in a very long time; in fact, it’s been almost 12 years with the exception of a couple of rare exceptions.
When I first figured out the whole webcam thing, it was kind of exciting. The idea of connecting with complete strangers over the “safety” of the Internet was exhilarating. It was a huge leap in sexual and technological exploration for me – and a safe way to feel out my exhibitionist side. At first it was flirtatious fun, a little flashing here and there … a bit of watching, a lot of teasing and innuendo.
Absolutely, I found it kind of exciting, and it certainly fueled a lot of my bi-curious side as I would check out the women on cam quite frequently. The site I used to frequent was filled with a wide variety of different chatrooms, and a lot of very sexy people.
But like a lot of things in life, after the novelty wears off, it wasn’t not as much fun. The whole experience began to digress into a bunch of aggressive guys begging to see various parts of my anatomy and behaving quite rudely. I guess, maybe in a very selfish way, I grew tired of the demands to show my tits and ass while some guy stroked his manhood – note I did not say requests. I said “demands“ for a reason.
With some of the guys I had come to know online, and shared both a sexual and intellectual level of chat with, it was exciting and fun. But the guys who assumed right off the bat that if I was online and on camera, that I was automatically some kind of slut or prostitute willing to hike up my skirt on demand, eroded a lot of that fun for me.
Out of frustration with the whole thing, I unplugged my webcam, found other ways to indulge my personal sexual desires and moved on. And so, I haven’t done any webcam stuff for quite some time.
My hubby and I once discussed offering a webcam show option as part of my Southern Charms site – or even maybe dabbling with another webcam site – but to date, nothing has come of it. I’m still not 100 per cent sure I am really a webcam kind of girl anyway … and so, no doubt much to the chagrin of many who continue to ask, I haven’t pursued it.