Knowing how to have better sex is more than just incorporating new positions, it's about understanding your non-sexual relationship with your partner in relation to your sexual relationship. In this interview with the authors of Sex Comes First: 15 Ways to Save Your Relationship - Without Leaving Your Bedroom, find out how you can improve your sex life along with the relationship so you can begin feeling satisfied in and outside of bedroom.
About the Authors
Joel D. Block, Ph.D.
Joel D. Block, Ph.D. is an experienced psychologist, author of twenty love and sexuality books, and practicing couple and sex therapist. He offers couple-relationship seminars, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology, a senior psychologist for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center and an Assistant Clinical Profession at Einstein College of Medicine.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is an experienced writer in dating, relationship, and sex. Her work has been featured in popular magazines such as Maxim, Marie Claire, Redbook and Cosmopolitan. She's also made appearances on TV/radio shows across the world from Seattle to Australia giving her expert advice on online dating. Together with Joel D. Block, Ph.D. she has co-authored two books, The Real Reasons Men Commit: Why He Will -or Won't-Love, Honor and Marry You and Sex Comes First: 15 Ways to Save Your Relationship - Without Leaving Your Bedroom.
Common Issues in Relationships
What are some of the biggest problems couples face in their relationship?
Kimberly Neumann (KN): I think that one of the most important concepts to remember is the idea of love-trust. In other words, a couple can have love without trust and can have trust without love, but unless they have BOTH in their relationship, it could end up fractured. For a relationship to be successful, the love-trust bond must be in place. It's appropriate to hyphenate it because the two are so inextricably linked. Intimate relationships take you to a vulnerable place and unless you can trust your partner to be there, you're probably not experiencing a relationship that is supportive both in and out of the bedroom.
What are some of the differences between men and women that create issues in a couple's relationship?
Joel Block (JB): Differences range from communication style to problem solving and emotional processing. Men tend to be direct and less emotionally driven and women frequently take longer to get to the point. She also tends to be more emotionally driven.
KN: Every couple will have their own unique communication pattern but one thing to keep in mind is that from a very early age, society socializes women to be more verbal than men and they get used to sharing their emotions openly. Men, however, tend to frequently show how they're feeling before they will articulate it. This can set couples up for communication breakdowns because if both partners are attempting to communicate in the way they're most comfortable they might miss messages from each other. It's important to pay attention to your partner as a whole being (i.e. what he/she does AND says) to get the entire picture.
How Relationship Issues Affect Your Sex Life
How do these problems affect a couple's sex life?
KN: A couple that is out of whack as far as their yin/yang balance (male versus female energies) may end up with one partner becoming too dominant and the other feeling hurt. In order for a sexual relationship to be fulfilling for both partners, there must be some reciprocity. The best sexual relationships balance yin and yang accomplished either by meeting somewhere in the middle or by switching off (i.e. "Who's on top this time honey?").
JB: Differences in communication, problem solving and emotions between men and women may manifest in a similar ways sexually. He's in a rush to get to the point and she is more likely to prefer the longer route. Emotionally he can more easily separate making love and having sex. She can do the same but not as easily or often. The sex-periential yin/yang game in Sex Comes First challenges inhibitions while allowing couples to experience a broader range of sexual pleasures than they have in the past. The game also provides training in drawing on each partner's recessive side, male or female, so that they will be able to apply to their relationship as a whole.
How to Have Better Sex by Improving Your Relationship
How can couples become more comfortable communicating about sexual desires as well as issues in the relationship?
KN: It's important not to accuse when bringing up an issue. A way to ask for what you need is to start phrases with the word "I assume" which shows how you are reading a situation and allows your partner, if he/she is being honest, to affirm or refute what you're saying. In addition, couples consistently underestimate the ability of their partner to anticipate their behavior and vice versa. You cannot expect your partner to be a mind reader. Saying "Well, you should know me!" is a very unrealistic pressure to put on a relationship or partner. You must communicate with each other.
What if one partner's sexual desires differ from his/her partner's, is this a reason to end the relationship?
JB: Very rarely are individuals so complementary in tastes and desires that negotiating and compromising are not required, sexually or otherwise. Yes, sexuality is a particularly sensitive area. If one person in a relationship has a strong penchant for a certain type of sex or sexual behavior and the other partner tends to like more variety, for example, they will end up with a sexual malfunction unless they compromise.
Fortunately, in Sex Comes First we have created a sexual experience that gently burns through impasses. Negative emotions, such as those created by a stubborn impasse and lack of compromise block the flow of merging energy. The "sexual bonding experience" allows the energy to flow and, consequently, sets up an atmosphere where creative compromise is more likely. With that in mind, we strongly suggest using this sexual solution to free up collective energies so that negativity will wane and positive resolution may begin.
What are some things couples can do to improve their relationship?
KN: If you are looking for how to have better sex, I think one really great thing to remember is to maintain a connection by practicing non-sexual touching daily. This means an arm around the waist, brushing a hair out of your partner's face, a warm hug. This opens up the pathways to communication that will lead to a better sex life as well as promoting intimacy all day long.
JB: Recent research has revealed that boredom is a bigger factor than expected in love relationships. The research findings suggest bored couples are impacted in the area of intimacy. Simply put, they are not as close in every way-in the bedroom as well as in the relationship generally. The solution is on two levels. On an individual level, challenge yourself, take reasonable risks and avoid complacency in your career and love life. As a couple, be experimental, try new activities, talk about everything and anything, welcome rather than fear change. In the sexual area, even getting together somewhere other than the bedroom is a start. Want to notch up the challenge? Cut up a sheet of paper into business card size and write a sexual preference on each. When a broad array of sexual desires are created, put them in a bowl, shuffle them, pick from the bowl, read the desire aloud and discuss your feelings about each. Notch it up even more? Do it unclothed, put on some sexy music.
How can the book, Sex Comes First, help couples with their issues?
KN: This book takes 15 issues many couples struggle with such as trust, jealousy and anger and show readers how they can deal with them in a verbal way. It then pairs each with a corresponding sexual experience that solidifies the work done outside the bedroom in a physiological way. This isn't just a book about "try this position" or "introduce this toy" into the bedroom. It's about recognizing that relationships are multi-layered and that sex is an integral part of any romantic partnership that should not be ignored.