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The Ultimate Sex Guide for Newlyweds By Sar Harrar and Rita DeMaria, Ph.D.

from The 7 Stages of Marriage

2009 JUPITERIMAGES CORPORATION Balancing a sense of intimacy and safety and security with a sense of unpredicta bility. When writer Miriam Arond and her husband, psychiatrist Samuel L. Pauker, M.D., s urveyed hundreds of newlywed couples across the nation, they discovered that 85 percent had made love before tying the knot, yet the frequency and quality of un married sex had little to do with the reality of married lovemaking.Nearly half said that after marriage, they didn t have sex as often as they d like; 20 percent o f new wives reported low sexual desire. For a fourth of the wives, sex meant pai nful intercourse or elusive orgasms, while 1 in 10 husbands experienced prematur e ejaculation, and 1 in 20 had erection problems. What ever happened to athletic, swinging-from-the-chandeliers, did-the-earth-move -for-you-too? prenuptial lovemaking? The deep, mystical, Tantric communing of two spirits? Hours of Hollywood sex complete with mood music, flickering candleligh t, and satin sheets? The excitement of getting married gives couples a hit of dopamine a feel-good bra in chemical that increases sex drive. For a few months after marriage, things ma y stay hot, says marriage and sex therapist Pat Love, Ed.D. And while you still lo ve each other and feel passionate about each other, the dopamine does settle dow n. You re back to real life. Your normal sex-drive set point kicks back in. Your e xpectations about married sex take over. It s the perfect time to do the delicious work of deepening your sexual bond. PLUS: Top 10 Aphrodisiacs The challenge for couples is balancing a sense of intimacy and safety and securit y with a sense of unpredictability and creativity and eroticism, says Barry McCar thy, Ph.D., a psychology professor at American University in Washington, D.C. Whe n sexual intimacy is strong, making love plays a healthy 15 to 20 percent role i n energizing your marriage. The paradox is that when sex is problematic, it play s an inordinately powerful, negative role in new marriages. Understanding the real sexual issues that newlyweds face can help you keep sex f un and fulfilling now and for the rest of your lives. Experts say these hidden c oncerns can cool the hottest love life in the early days of marriage: Mismatched sex drives. When your sex drive returns to its normal level in the mon ths after you get married, couples start to notice a frustrating desire discrepa ncy, Dr. Love says. It s perfectly normal. You ve just got to work it out. Testosterone, the hormone of desire, fuels sex drive in men and women. But, Dr. Love says, relatively low levels of natural testosterone mean that two-thirds of all women don t walk around thinking about sex all the time. For these women and I m one of them you don t feel like having sex until you re already having it, she says. That s perfectly normal. It just means you have to approach sex a little different ly. You have to make time for touching, time for sex. You can t rely on being arou sed to get things started. You have to start with relaxed touching and kissing t o raise your arousal level. Plus: 10 More Aphrodisiacs Clashing sex-pectations. On the last night of a romantic two-week honeymoon, Pri scilla and Greg Hunt bumped up against a radical difference in expectations and

desire. We had been making love three times a day on our honeymoon, Priscilla reca lls. It was wonderful, but we were about to go back to real life. To work and sch ool and doing the dishes and responsibilities. I had to say, it s time to talk abo ut moderation. Says Greg, Sexuality was a real issue. We were both learning about it in our college courses, but experiencing it firsthand was strikingly differen t. My testosterone levels were extremely high. We were not evenly matched for li bido. We had to work hard to communicate. Sexuality is a very sensitive issue yo u have all sorts of feelings and insecurities wrapped up in it. Their solution? A fluid, flexible compromise: There were times he wanted sex when we didn t have it and times I didn t want sex but we did. Thankfully, there were mo re times when we both wanted to make love. There s been a natural ebb and flow. It s something we still have to talk about, Priscilla says. This is the reality for ev ery couple: You re wired differently. If you have enough sexual experiences togeth er that are positive for both of you, you ll be able to work out the differences. This is an issue for many couples who ve enjoyed a lusty sexual intimacy before ma rriage and/or during the honeymoon but who settle into different rhythms during day-to-day married life. The solution? Talk it out so that you don t feel rejected , frustrated, or bored. First Base, Revisited Don t wait for all that sexy dopamine to wear off. Using the heat, passion, and let s jump back into bed now sexual urgency of your first months together to explore a nd expand your repertoire of touch. The first two years of marriage are critical for building a sexual style that includes shared pleasure and deeper intimacy. A im for that. Otherwise, sex problems can become the focus of your relationship, D r. McCarthy notes. The sexual prescription? First, go back to first, second, and third base touchin g for physical pleasure, not necessarily orgasm or intercourse. And get past old -fashioned man/woman sex roles that stand in the way of an emotionally close and erotic sex life. Men are often socialized to value performance more than intimac y or pleasuring, says Dr. McCarthy. Women are taught to value relating and to see eroticism as the realm of wild, crazy women not wives. PLUS: 15 Funny Wedding Photos Not all pleasurable touching can uple becomes comfortable touching a closer, more solid sensual and closer, and even sexier now and re. or should lead to intercourse, he notes. When a co inside and outside the bedroom, they re building sexual bond that will make them feel happier, help protect against sexual problems in the futu

Emphasize pleasure, not just the big O. Exploration and touch without the expecta tion of intercourse or orgasm helps couples get to know each other s bodies and ne eds you learn what kinds of touch are pleasurable as a giver and as a recipient, Dr. McCarthy says. Pleasure and affection keep you close even when you don t want sex. Nurture emotional intimacy too. Feeling understood, supported, and valued will m ake you both feel closer and therefore more receptive to physical closeness. PLUS: 13 Things Your Florist Won t Tell You Plan ahead. Sex-drive discrepancy? Busy schedule? Put s-e-x on the calendar. It s a fact of life: Most of us married someone who wants sex more often or less ofte n than we do. If you wait to feel turned on before you have sex, you ll miss out o n lots of great moments together. Let touching turn you on rather than expecting

to feel aroused first. This may seem totally unnecessary during the hot-and-hea vy exchanges of the Passion stage, but experts say it s the best way to ensure you l l still be enjoying great sex when your life is complicated by kids, a house, st ress, reduced sex drive, and times of conflict. Low sex drive? Consider saying yes anyway. People freak out when I say this, Dr. L ove confides. But if you make time for love and romance and try to say yes when y our partner wants to make love provided you re not dealing with a compulsive or se x-addicted spouse you will have a better sex life. Let your partner s drive get yo u both into bed, or wherever you ll make love, so that you can be touched and turn ed on. Why get into the habit of not doing it? Think of life as foreplay. I found out early on that relational issues that seem to have nothing to do with the act of sex itself make a huge difference to my wi fe and to her interest in intimacy, Greg Hunt says. I learned to pay attention to things I wasn t naturally good at. If I m ignoring her and also not paying attention to things like chores around the house, she s not going to feel cozy and intimate at bedtime. Don t use sex as a bargaining chip. Angry? Say something don t grunt or over. Withholding lovemaking when you re upset turns this deep, vulnerable ion into a nuclear weapon for power struggles. Adding layers of resentment ur feelings about physical intimacy is a surefire way to make sure neither u will be in the mood. hmph and roll connect to yo of yo

Have realistic expectations. And in particular, dial back on multi-orgasmic, tra nscendental expectations. Even for the most happily married couples, more than 1 0 percent of sexual encounters aren t even pleasurable for one or both spouses, Dr . McCarthy says. An off night maybe the sex is hurried, you re tired or distracted , or simply uncomfortable doesn t mean you ve got a big problem. It s life. Don t expect perfect sex every time or wait for the perfect moment to pounce on your mate. J ust connect! Make it eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul. You ll feel more vulnerable but couples report t hey also feel sexier, more attractive, more in-the-moment, and closer when they look into each other s eyes during sex. Never underestimate the power of a quickie. You won t always have all the time in the world for making love and maybe you don t already. Don t overlook fast sex. It k eeps the two of you in the intimacy loop, so you don t jeopardize the compassion, happiness, romance, and understanding that sexual closeness can bring.