It may be the most common cover line found on women’s magazines: “How to Rekindle Your Relationship.” We’ve all certainly been there, to varying degrees. Whether you’re in a full-on, no-sex rut or simply feeling a little lackluster about your life between the sheets, it’s easy to just give up. Fortunately, reclaiming your sexual confidence is not as hard as you think—but it can involve some soul-searching and a bit of work. A little goes a long way though, and Amy Jo Goddard, a sexual empowerment expert and speaker and author of Woman on Fire: 9 Elements to Wake Up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power, and Sexual Intelligence, is here to help.
Sign up to receive inspiring, expert advice on living your best life from Books for Better Living and Penguin Random House.
Books for Better Living: What is one of the most common complaints you hear from women in long-term relationships, when it comes to their sex lives?
Amy Jo Goddard: Not getting their sexual needs met, that’s a big complaint.
BBL: What contributes to that?
AJG: It can be a number of things. A partner might lack skills. A woman might not know what she wants or how to effectively communicate it. Sometimes we just get stuck in patterns that aren’t serving either person in the relationship.
BBL: You say that “breaking roles and rules to be who we really are will bring us to an authentically powerful place.” What are some typical rules and roles that you find among married or partnered couples? Can you give us some examples of how they might go about breaking them?
AJG: The biggest one is that people tend to have sex before they go to bed, because that’s the place we associate with sex. But if you’re going to bed after a long day, maybe after work and putting the kids to bed, you’re tired and it’s not probably the best time for sex. So mixing up when and where we have sex is important. Another important one is breaking traditional gender roles. Men are commonly associated with initiating sex, and women are taught to reciprocate and follow their sexual lead. That can be frustrating for both people, so we need to break those up too. Also, the idea that intercourse is the centerpiece of sex . . . There are a lot of other things that are fun and get both partners off—certainly women—since intercourse serves men more, in terms of orgasm and pleasure.
BBL: What’s often the first sign that we are in a sexual “rut” (besides the obvious: not having sex)?
AJG: It’s really looking emotionally at what’s happening. It can be feeling lackluster to the point of avoiding going to bed at the same time as your partner or working more hours . . . basically finding ways to avoid actually having sex. Another sign can be a general frustration or low-level satisfaction in other areas of life, a lack of vibrancy in life in general, like you’re just going through the motions. When you feel that way, it almost always shows up in your sex life as well.
BBL: How do you help women who feel sexually stuck in their relationship, particularly when they are eager to explore but their partner is unwilling or less interested in “fixing” problems?
AJG: It’s very typical that one person is more interested in addressing the issue. When women come to my sexual empowerment power program and question whether they should even be there since they’re not in a relationship, I remind them that your sexuality is yours. Regardless of whether you’re single or what your partner is doing, working on developing your own relationship to your body and the things you enjoy is important. You’ll bring that to your sexual life, which can empower a partner to follow.
BBL: I think it’s important to call out that people who want more sexual confidence need to have deeper intimacy and more emotional connection with their partners. What are some of the ways we can achieve greater intimacy that leads to a more gratifying sexual life, particularly some things we may take for granted?
AJG: It’s very easy to take the other person for granted, to not pay attention. Anytime I hear a couple say “we know each other so well we finish each other’s sentences,” I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing. We need to be curious about our partners. So rituals around the way we maintain our intimacy or connection are important: from what you do when someone walks in the door after you haven’t seen them for a while to how you greet each other when you wake up in the morning.
BBL: You talk about the importance of creating a sexual practice that relates to a particular part of your sexual self. What is an example or two of a sexual practice we might engage in, and is there a way to make it a joint effort with your partner?
AJG: If you’re struggling with your relationship to your body, then do something physical, something that brings you more into your body—like dancing naked to your favorite song every day or touching your whole body and greeting it. With a partner, you can try eye gazing or doing intentional breathing exercises together. This makes you more present and can loosen your sexual energy.
Photo Credit: Beeboys/Shutterstock