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Initiating Sex
Do you and your spouse initiate sex equally? Would you like it to be more equal? Our Sexpert offers her simple plan.

Would you like the initiating of sex to be more 50/50 in your relationship?

Who initiates sex in your relationship? Couples surveyed said ideally they would like both partners to initiate equally. Yet people tend to attract their polar opposite. As a result one person will be more assertive and tend to do the bulk of bedroom initiation. Couples settle in and unwittingly form an "Initiator"/ "Pursued" bonding-pattern.

This initiating imbalance may have already deeply affected your relationship. Sex becomes one-dimensional and dull. The Initiator begins to question, "Does this person ever find me attractive?"

Most destructive though is when the Initiator has had enough and starts to nag. It creates a toxic power struggle, with both people drudging up hurt feelings and putting up walls. Sex comes to a screeching halt with both not knowing how to climb out of the non-initiating hole.

Sex Matters for Women by Sallie Foley writes, "But because sex is such a loaded issue in our society, many people find it awkward to initiate lovemaking, even when they desire it and thoroughly enjoy it… the burden of feeling awkward or ashamed of wanting it too much inhibits them. If a woman or man feels sexually insecure, initiating sex can be intimidating. The ever-present possibility of being turned down or ridiculed makes the overture too scary."

Being taken out of your natural "Pursued" role and becoming an equal opportunity "Initiator" is understandably uncomfortable. So where do you start?

First, get the facts. Figure out how many times and/ or the percentage you initiate (i.e. 0%, 10%, 25%) per month. Make a commitment to take the number or percentage up over the next six months. If you initiate once every couple of months, make a pact to initiate once a month. Believe it or not, having a specific number will help steel your resolve to accomplish your goal.

Then become acutely aware of any negative communication loops you and your spouse may have built up around the topic of initiation. Mentally red flag when you both climb into that old familiar, destructive loop and immediately disengage from your communication patterns. Only when you have cooled down, identify how both of you act and react to this anxiety.

Next set your boundaries if your partner overtly or covertly bugs you about not initiating—sarcastic jabs, sighs, slamming of doors. When you see this behavior, wait until they calm down before telling them you are doing your best to create a new dynamic and to back off. Explain that a big part of the problem is their constant negative enforcement which is most likely paralyzing your ability to initiate. If they do not believe you, show them this article.

Now it’s time to take action. Start small to build up your confidence. Give them a lingering kiss when they don’t expect it. When they are doing a chore, go and wrap your arms around them and give them a suggestive squeeze.

These baby steps are not about having sex. It is a way for you to get comfortable setting up a dynamic of fun and play between the two of you—the key to quelling any lingering animosity.

There are two ways your partner can react to the new and improved you. The first and best way is they become overjoyed. The second, and more human, is for them to play it cool, unintentionally allowing their passive-aggressive, "you’ve punished me for so long, now you are going to get a taste of your own medicine" to rear its ugly head.

Don’t panic, internalize or get into new destructive habits to an unenthusiastic response. This is simply the awkward part of transforming new habits.

Once you become more confident with the baby steps, it is time for full-on initiating sex. This demands some planning on your part. Set a night aside and decide what you would like to happen. Planning gives you an opportunity to think about how you are going to execute your initiation. What are you going to say? What are you going to do? How are you going to do it?

Dr. Patricia Love, author of Hot Monogamy gives this tip, "Be more direct in asking for sex…You might say to your partner, 'I'm feeling really sexy tonight. I'd like to make love to you,' or 'I would really appreciate it if we had sex tonight. I'm really turned on.' Clear positive communication may evoke a more positive response."

Once you have successfully met your initiation goal (from above)—make sure to give yourself a pat on the back—it is time to have another conversation with your partner. Ask each other what both of you can do to make initiation a 50/50 endeavour.

Sex becomes a lot more interesting, fun and meaningful when both people are stoking the initiating fires.

Dr. Trina Read has a doctorate in human sexuality. Dr. Read is also an international speaker and offers a free sex audio tip weekly on her website www.trinaread.com/t-sextips.

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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.

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