A great way to reduce stress, feel healthy, and maintain a strong relationship with your partner is by keeping a close eye on your sex life. It only takes a few adjustments to spice things up. Just remember: Keep it fun and within your own boundaries.
1. THERE'S ALWAYS TIME FOR A QUICKIE
Stop rolling your eyes. The quickie can be fun if you're creative and have the right attitude. After all, sex experts agree that the more sex you have, the more you want it. "Lots of sex begets more sex because you stay connected," said Dr. Laura Berman, director of the Berman Center in Chicago and author of Real Sex for Real Women. And when couples physically express their desire for each other often, it enhances intimacy. So when the kids are on their way home with Grandma in tow and the spaghetti sauce is about to boil over, grab your guy and show him what real "shock and awe" feels like. Head down into the laundry room and make love standing up against the washing machine. You don't even have to take off all your clothes. If you've been together for a long time, an erotic sneak attack is a surprise he'll be daydreaming about at work for weeks to come.
2. GLORY DAYS: THEY HAVEN'T PASSED YOU BY
Remember the times early in your relationship when you were so smitten with each other you couldn't make it to the bedroom before your clothes were ripped off? Sometimes maybe you couldn't even make it out of the car. Next time you're on the way home from an outing, prepare ahead and slip on some sexy lingerie. When the car is safely parked in the garage, jump into the backseat and seduce him the way you did back then (only now you know exactly which erotic buttons to push). Don't put the brakes on just because your sweetie drives a Prius, or a Smart Car. They come equipped with hoods too. Cars may not be your nostalgic sexual hideout, but you can still shake things up by visiting any former smooching spot you frequented early in your relationship. This strategy is sure to rekindle those magical feelings of uncontrollable desire, unless that spot was your in-laws' rumpus room...
3. LET THE GAMES BEGIN
Sometimes it's difficult to convince your partner to try new things, but if you're stuck in the old missionary-position-only-after-lights-out rut, it's time break out of your old routine and kick it up a notch. Start out by visiting an adult novelty store. Kathy, a busy mom on Long Island, tells of a particularly fun anniversary outing with her husband of 16 years. "We went into Manhattan for dinner and passed by an 'adult' store. We had never seen so many, ah, interesting marital aids that we ended up holding on to each other to keep from falling down because we were giggling so much. Like teenagers!" The couple sampled some of the store's wares and truly had an anniversary to remember. You don't have to buy a complete dominatrix getup (not all of us can pull off Madonna's look without looking ridiculous). Just invest in some fun games such as "sex dice," where you roll the dice and do as the dice tell you. Or there are "sex coupons" for him and her in which couples may redeem certain activities stated on the coupon when the mood strikes. If you don't live in a big metropolitan area, get together on the computer and check out sex expert Berman's Web site: www.drlauraberman.com. (The site offers sex advice and adult novelty toys -- not porn). Sex should be fun, so go ahead and play.
4. BE THE AGGRESSOR, SOMETIMES
It isn't 1955 anymore, ladies. We don't wait for boys to call us, and we don't "lie back and do it for our country." Many men in long-term relationships complain that their partners always wait for them to make the first move, because it's a traditional male role. Not anymore. Women repair drywall, install doorknobs, and paint the house. While we know how to do these things, it's still possible to behave like a lady and also make your man feel desirable and sexy by making the first move. Make it fun by binding his hands or blindfolding him and making him figure out how to remove your clothes. As well as evoking laughter, this little test will show you just how ingenious your man can be. Besides breaking from tired old standard first-move habits, according to Dr. Berman, the exercise will act as an "automatic foreplay extender." He'll think you're his playful little "minx" and feel irresistible too. Just make sure that approach is always a two-way street.
5. WORK THAT BODY TOGETHER
Yes, it sounds insane, but working out together can be a real turn on. And not just because of the skimpy attire. According to Dr. Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington, in Seattle, teaming up with a significant other while exercising actually raises a woman's dopamine (the desire hormone) levels and calms anxiety, leaving her feeling frisky even if she's tired and sweaty. Schwartz says to think of it as fat-burning foreplay, which beats a boring hour alone on the treadmill any day. And here's another bonus for your man: His post-workout sweat contains androstadienone, a testosterone derivative that elevates female arousal when she gets a whiff of it. So if you've been slacking off in your fitness routine, there's a much more entertaining way to burn calories than adding another mile to your run.
6. PDA: NOT TABOO ANYMORE
You love your man. Now show him. In public. What used to be fodder for mockery is now commonplace, and can be very stimulating for you both without being graphic or obscene. Sure, hand-holding is always good -- you want to stay connected, but a gentle rub on the back of the neck or discreet hand on the knee under the table isn't going to ruffle any feathers. You know what your man likes, so if it's a quick tug on his earlobe in the car, go for it. Follow it up with a wink and a mischievous grin and rest assure he'll have some follow-up ideas when you get home.
7. MAKE-UP SEX
We've all heard men exclaim on the big screen: "make-up sex is the best of all." Big talk aside, it's actually pretty difficult to get in the mood when all you can think about is sticking a fork in his eye. Seriously, it is possible to take all of the passion that creates anger and re-channel it into sexual energy. After all, when war is being waged your body is responding by producing copious amounts of adrenaline and dopamine, which are both perfect ingredients for exceptional lovemaking. Next time you and your partner are engaging in battle, remember that the war is best won in bed, or on the floor, by having madly passionate make-up sex that promises to sustain intimacy when you inevitably hit those rough patches.