Wednesday, November 8, 2006

4 Weeks to a Hotter, Happier, More Satisfying Sex Life

Want exciting sex? More intimate sex? More playful sex? Heck, want to want more sex, period? Our monthlong makeover will increase your pleasure and his

PLUS: Bonus love-your-sex-life advice from a top sex therapist.
We women hear the word "makeover" and we're usually up for it because we know we'll look cuter in the end. A hair makeover, a style makeover--who wouldn't want that? But a sex makeover? Uh-huh--and here's why. No matter how satisfying (or not) your sex life is right now, you probably wouldn't mind adding a little more heat, a little more surprise, and a lot more closeness to the mix. That means finding fresh ways to discover and delight in each other, whether you've been together two years or 20. Our four-week plan delivers all that and helps you and your man have more fun in bed, to boot.

Here's how it works: Each week of the makeover has a different theme plus a list of activities to try--building from no-touch intimacy boosters in Week 1 to sexy push-your-limits games in Week 4. Aim to do three or four activities per week--you and he can take turns choosing which ones. Most of them take less than half an hour, so you can do them all during the weekend, or spread them out over the course of the week. Finally, for more on deepening your sexual connection, check out "The Love Doctor Is In" for further advice from Laura Berman, Ph.D., host of the Showtime series Sexual Healing, who's bean helping women and couples develop their passion potential for nearly two decades.

Now grab your guy and get ready to have fun!

[WEEK ONE] warm up
It's hard to really enjoy sex with your guy if you're mad at him. That's why it's important to do a little healing before heading into new sexual territory--think of it as cleaning out your emotional closet. So for the first week of this makeover, you'll stick to nonsexual activities that'll get you primed for the sexy stuff.

* Feed each other's ego
Build his self-esteem--and yours--by taking 10 minutes to say what you like about each other, both in and out of bed. Be sure to cover three kinds of compliments: physical ("You have a sexy butt"), appreciative ("I really appreciate that you always pick up the kids"), and emotional ("I feel so safe when I'm with you"). Aim for at least one of each, but the more, the better! Then try to incorporate at least one additional compliment per day, all week long.

* Write each other forgiveness letters
Often, your sex life can be affected by emotional issues that you're carrying around--things you've never talked about, but should. Ava Cadell, Ph.D., a Los Angeles sex therapist, uses "forgiveness letters" to help couples communicate important thoughts and feelings. "The letter has to be specific, such as, 'When you made that joke about me at Joe and Lisa's party, I felt really embarrassed. I never said anything, but I've been upset with you since then, and I'd like to forgive you,'" says Cadell. "Then I make him read your letter back to you, to mirror your thoughts and make sure he is listening." (He gets to write his own letter, too.) This process helps you to let go of anger and disappointment--about things both small and large--and feel that you're being heard and understood by your partner.

* Play the "How I Like to Be Touched" game
Get prepped for the sexier activities in weeks to come by talking about the nonsexual touches that make you feel good. You're not allowed to have sex or touch each other's genitals while doing this exercise. Lie on the bed (or wherever is comfortable), clothed or unclothed, and have your guy stroke you all over. Have him try different strokes, such as kneading or sliding his fingers, to see what you like best. Take turns, switching off after 15 to 20 minutes. Ask each other questions like, "Do you like circular strokes or when I go up and down?" Narrate what you're doing: "I'm rubbing your legs, and now I'm moving up to your buns." And it's okay to giggle--being goofy and loose together sparks your sex connection, too! (This exercise has a perk: You'll end up using some of the strokes you liked as a warm up to steamy sex another time.)

* Critique each other--constructively
Just as important as knowing what your partner likes is knowing what he doesn't like. This is the time to come clean and tell each other what you'd like done a little differently, in a nonjudgmental way. To soften the blow, try sandwiching each negative between two positives. For example: "You know, I like it when you give attention to my nipples. But sometimes you're too rough. I really love when you massage them softly with your fingers and lick them." Take turns giving each other suggestions and listening without interrupting. (It's harder to do that than you think!)

* Just breathe
This is a tantric technique that helps you synchronize your sexual energy. It will relax both of you and put you in the mood. Sit facing each other and take slow, deep breaths together. Hold hands. Look into each other's eyes. Don't talk. Send him mental messages of love. Try to stay like this for five minutes--it can be very sexy to tap into each other's rhythms this way.

* Redo your boudoir
A few small changes can turn your bedroom into a pleasure palace. First, banish clutter--the kids' toys, stray socks, piles of bedside reading. While you're doing that, remove family photos, too; this is the "romance room," so the only photos you should have in there are shots of you and your husband.

To set a seductive mood, install a dimmer switch ($5 at hardware stores) on the bedside lamp so you can adjust it. Candles are also essential. (We all look sexier by candlelight.) If you don't already have a CD player in the bedroom, add one, along with some get-in-the-groove tunes. For extra fun, create a "naughty box"--a shoe box filled with sexy accessories like blindfolds, a feather, a vibrator, lube, massage oil, novelty condoms, and breath mints. You two might enjoy browsing for supplies together online (try or at a bricks-and-mortar adult store.

Finally, put a lock on the door--to keep the kids, the dog, and anyone else from barging in on you. (See page 102 for tales from three readers who didn't!)

the love doctor is in WEEK ONE
Sex Rx: A huge part of any sexual transformation happens outside the bedroom, says REDBOOK Love Network expert Laura Berman, Ph.D., author of The Passion Prescription. "Particularly for women, the brain is the main sex organ," she says. "More than orgasms, more than sexual response, more than body image, the one thing that predicts sexual satisfaction is the emotional connection we feel to the person we're having sex with."

That's why much of the work Berman does with women and couples is emotional, not sexual. (You can see her in action on her reality show, Sexual Healing, currently on Showtime.) "Past hurts, trust issues, communication--all of that is a huge part of what we focus on," she says. Berman starts couples off with an exercise similar to "feed each other's ego." "Even if they're angry, they have to put their anger aside and think of things they appreciate," she says. "Or we do 'Three things that make me feel loved' or 'Three things that make me feel safe.'"

On the other hand, sometimes a sexual activity opens up new ways of connecting. One woman Berman worked with discovered just how much resentment she was holding toward her husband when she had trouble touching him in a tender way during a sexual exercise. This inspired them to discuss some of their tough relationship issues.

If any activity in this makeover is truly upsetting to you, if either of you have a history of trauma or abuse, or if there are other emotional issues involved (such as depression or infidelity), then consider seeing a therapist for help, says Berman. You can find one in your area through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists ( or the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy ( If you're looking for a sex therapist, make sure they're also licensed in your state as a regular therapist.

--Jeannie Kim

[WEEK TWO] pleasure him
This week, you'll be focusing on his sexual satisfaction. (Don't worry, you'll go next!) By zeroing in on one partner at a time, you'll both learn way more about what works and what doesn't in bed--and the person being treated gets to enjoy a week of sexual pleasure with no distractions.

* Treat him to an erotic massage
Even the most macho man likes a little pampering. Pull his clothes off, throw him in the shower or tub, and soap him up. Then explore his erogenous zones with a sensual massage. Use your favorite massage oil or body lotion to smooth your strokes, and caress him everywhere. Men are so penis-oriented that they themselves don't often focus on their other hot spots. Discover his. Some guys have sensitive nipples, others have sensitive necks. Try rubbing his feet or between his butt cheeks. (He'll probably like it all!)

* Perform sexy shiatsu
What does he really want? For you to play with his penis! Experiment with different strokes, suggests San Francisco sex educator Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., author of Dr. Sprinkle's Spectacular Sex. Try the technique Sprinkle calls "penis shiatsu"--using finger pressure to drive him wild. "Squeeze up and down with your thumb and forefinger," says Sprinkle, "first front mad back and then on the sides." Sprinkle also recommends the "King's Delight": "Pay special attention to the frenulum, the area just below the head on the underside of the penis," she explains. "With one thumb on each side of the underside of the head, press and rub, making circles with your thumbs."

* Get creative with oral sex
First of all, don't worry too much about doing it "right." Men say that the number one thing that turns them on with oral sex is enthusiasm. Your technique doesn't have to be perfect, but it doesn't hurt to mix it up with creative extras. Try putting a Mentos in your mouth and then adding club soda. This will create a fizzing, bubbly eruption in your mouth. (And no, it's not dangerous.) You can also pop a strong mint for a fresh sensation.

* Heat things up with hot/cold play
Hot and cold sensations can add a whole new layer to sexy play. Try sipping a hot drink before licking him in a sensitive spot and see how that feels. Then drink something cold and see how he likes that. Or try rubbing on a heated lube; K-Y and FDS make ones that are available at any drugstore.

* Rough him up a little
Guys are very physical when it comes to sex, and they love to up the sexual energy with something that gets the adrenaline going. Try "wrestling," with or without clothes on. If your guy is a lot stronger, handicap him by making him tussle with just one arm, or with his legs gently tied together. Or get on top and pin down his arms yourself.

the love doctor is in [WEEK TWO]
Sex Rx: "It's so rare that we get to be totally focused on receiving pleasure without simultaneously having to pleasure the other person," says Berman. "It's also so difficult--we feel anxious, serf-conscious, and guilty." Letting go and receiving pleasure can be as hard for a man as it is for a woman, Berman points out, "Contrary to what many women believe, a large part of a man's sexual self-esteem comes from pleasuring his partner," she says. Men also experience a lot of performance anxiety--is my erection hard enough? Will I last long enough for her? Slowing things down by using techniques such as the breathing exercise from Week One can help him get pest these anxieties.

Another exercise Berman suggests is to have your guy identify on a scale of one to 10 how aroused he is. Repeatedly bring him to level six, then let him use breath and muscle control to come back down again. "This exercise teaches him about sexual control, and you learn how to stimulate him," says Berman, "but it's very intimate and caring, as well as sexual."

--J. K.

[WEEK THREE] pleasure you
Now it's your turn to let him do all the work. Relax into it as he experiments with new ways to please you. (If any of the activities from Week Two appeal to you, feel free to demand them instead--or in addition!)

* Play the "Hand Over" game
If you already played "How I Like to Be Touched" in Week One, get ready to take it one step further. Put your hand over his and glide his hand over all (yes, all) the areas of your body that you want him to touch. Have him experiment with different touches (all controlled by you, of course): Try the "petting" stroke, where he uses long, slow strokes, or the "orbit" stroke, where he swirls his finger up and around your most sensitive spots. The "rock around the clock" stroke involves making tiny circles around your clitoris, with his forefinger stopping at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00. "Many women seem to like the 2:00 or 3:00 positions the best," says Sprinkle.

* Set an O goal
Extend this challenge: You must have five orgasms this week. (Five seem too easy? Make it 10!) He can give you one a day, or all five in one gloriously long session, but you have to reach the goal within seven days. Not only will this trigger his goal-oriented, competitive side, but he'll also be inspired to new heights of creativity as he works to take you across the finish line.

* Enjoy an erotic bedtime stow
Buy a book of erotica (browse at and have him read you a story. Hearing his voice describing the sex other people are having can be amazingly arousing. And soon enough you'll probably find yourself saying, "We should do what they're doing."

* Try a "trigasm"
You probably have a few tried-and-true ways of reaching orgasm, but adding extra stimulation can kick everything up a notch. Have him stimulate your clitoris with his tongue, touch your G-spot (located an inch or two inside your vagina, on the front wall) with his finger, and stroke your anal area with another finger, all at the same time. This can produce a more powerful orgasm.

* Light up with pleasure
Turn off the lights, take a flashlight, and guide the glow to areas of your body that you want him to lick or rub. Start with your neck, ears, nipples--go wherever you want him to explore. Even if it's a nonsexual area like your back, he has to pay attention to that area until you stop shining the flashlight on it.

the love doctor is in [WEEK THREE]
Sex Rx: Surrendering to being pleasured can be especially difficult for women, who are often taught to put their own needs last, says Berman. "Also, when the focus is on you, you feel more vulnerable, more insecure about your insecurities, whether it's about your body or your genitals or your sexual response," she says. "You might feel like you're taking too long and he's getting bored." Sit back and don't worry about what he's thinking--just concentrate on the sensations throughout your own body.


[WEEK FOUR] take it to the next level
Now it's time to push your limits, just a little, together. In this final week, you'll add more hot moves to your sexual repertoire, get honest about your desires, and embark on some fun new adventures.

* Make a wish list
Sometimes simply asking for what you want in bed can be scary. Writing it out makes it easier. Each of you should write down five new things you would actually like to try (no fantasies you'd never really do). You can also list things you've already done but want to do more of. Then share lists, and each of you pick one thing off the other's list to try this week. If you like, turn this fantasy fulfillment into a fun game by writing each idea down on a slip of paper, then drawing them out of a hat. Pick two to try this week--and keep your lists to refer to after the makeover is finished!

* Talk dirty
Not comfortable with dirty talk? Ease into it, says Sprinkle, who suggests starting with simple phrases like "That's good" or "Yes, there." Then work up to "Mmm, it feels so good when you ?." Once you're comfortable, add more detail, maybe even some spicy language. Don't be shy; this is the time to enjoy saying dirty words and being a bad girl. This week, each of you should try talking dirty, whatever that means to you--at least once. Even if you don't love it, you'll get to stretch yourselves by trying on a new way of expressing yourselves in bed, which will help both of you to be more open.

* Take turns taking control
Ever wanted to be more take-charge in bed but were afraid to tell him? Or maybe he wants you to be more dominant, but he's never had the courage to ask. One day this week, you get to be completely in charge--yes, completely. Try tying him up, blindfolding him, spanking him (gently!), bossing him around. (This is especially satisfying when you have PMS.) Then switch roles. If you like, you can add in some role-play, like being a cop and a crook, or a teacher and a naughty student. You might burst out laughing at first, but keep going--playing with control and submission can be a powerful way of reaffirming your trust in each other, both in bed and within your relationship. At the very least, you'll have some silly fun with it.

* Strike a few new poses
Experiment with at least one new position, such as the "reverse cowgirl," where you sit on his lap facing away, or the "doorman," where you lift up your leg and do it standing up against a door. (Want more ideas? Check out the books Position of the Day Playbook from or The Little Bit Naughty Book of Sex Positions by Siobhan Kelly.) Afterward, each of you can rate the position's hotness on a scale of one to five.

* Do it somewhere different
Make it your mission to have sex in at least two different rooms this week. Or try a road trip: Next time you head to the store, pick a secluded place to pull over and get some lovin'. Try a little backseat action, or sit on his lap in the passenger seat. Just like a road trip, passionate sex is all about looking at new things, discovering surprises, getting lost, and getting back on the road again. Make sure your "road trip" has its exciting moments and challenges--and enjoy the adventure!

the love doctor is in [WEEK FOUR]
Sex Rx: Moving beyond your comfort zone is key to growing, both emotionally and sexually, says Berman. "You have to take risks to make the change you want," she says. Changing your usual routine can also shake things up physically, she points out: "Doing things that feel just a little frightening inspires dopamine production, which can boost your libido. That's why I often direct couples to go rock climbing or skydiving as part of their therapy."

If any of these exercises brings up anger or frustration with your partner--or simply makes you a little uncomfortable--it's important to express yourself honestly without attacking, just as you should with any conflict Try to work through your discomfort, Berman says, but if you're feeling very upset or unusually uncomfortable, don't push yourself; read the information in Week One about how to know if you might benefit from working with a therapist.

Whether you do it on your own or with help, exploring your sexual boundaries can help you two maintain a passionate bond for a lifetime. "Your sexual responses change throughout your life, so it's important to take the pulse of your sex life every now and then," Berman notes. "Something you might have been totally opposed to trying five years ago might be something you're now fantasizing about. Or the moves that worked before to get you in the mood might not work anymore. Revisiting your sexual needs will help you to keep growing and changing as a couple, and that's all part of being in a vibrant, healthy sexual relationship."


By: Anka Radakovich and Jeannie Kim


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