Great sex improves your physical and emotional health as well as the health of your relationship. One often misunderstood word makes it happen.

As a marriage life coach and a writer, I’ve read a lot of books and retained a lot of information that I’ve received over the years when it comes to relationships—and intimacy. For instance, one time when I interviewed a sex therapist about sexual addiction and also issues that couples have in the bedroom, one of the things that he said was “Girls learn about sex from romance novels and guys learn about sex from porn. Put them both in one dark room and you’re going to have a big mess on your hands.”

And you know what? I really think he was on to something.

There are reportedly numerous benefits that come from sexual activity (especially when it’s sex with a long-term committed partner) including a boost in immunity, improved sleep, stress relief, pain relief and an increase in intimacy (especially emotionally). Yet in spite of all of that, Newsweek once reported that approximately 15-20 percent of married couples have sex no more than 10 times per year (10 times per year?).

Crazy, right?

However, after counseling numerous couples, I believe I’ve gotten some real insight into why there is so little action going on in the bedrooms and even why there’s a lack of real intimacy outside of it when it comes to so many married people: a lack of foreplay. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just simply relaying to you what countless wives (and a few husbands) have shared with me. So, if you’re currently not having as much sex as you would like, perhaps reading the following five points might keep you from being a sexless marriage statistic.

Foreplay is about being supportive.

There used to be a time when a lot of women worked exclusively inside of the home. Now, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t work hard. It just means that they didn’t have the stress of balancing corporate America and cooking and washing clothes. But when a woman has to literally bring home the bacon and fry it in the pan, this can result in 12-15 hour work days that can leave her exhausted. And so, when a husband is willing to help with the things that need to be done at home (eh hem, especially without the wife asking or nagging him to), it makes her feel like he empathizes with the demands on her life which makes her feel closer to him. A man who washes dishes, helps with the kids and sometimes says “Honey, take a bubble bath. I’ll handle everything else tonight” is a man that can be a real turn-on to a woman. Yes, you’ll be amazed what a 20-minute bubble bath can do for the senses. And your wife’s libido.

Foreplay is about being affectionate.

There’s one couple that I work with who tends to have consistent sexual issues. The fascinating thing is that it’s always due to the same thing: the husband thinks that any kind of affection is an automatic green light for sex. And so, the wife avoids cuddling on the couch or kissing him for long periods of time because she feels like he doesn’t know how to do those things without ripping her clothes off in 60 seconds or less. Intimacy is not a porn flick. Kisses on the forehead, holding hands, caressing your wife’s face in the midst of a deep embrace without reaching for the obvious erogenous zones is deeply appreciated by most women. It makes them feel like you want them—and not just for sexual reasons.


Foreplay is about “wrapping the package”.

OK, not your package. Her package. And by that, I mean this: If you’ve been married for a long time, it’s really easy to get into a rut—um, I mean a routine, when it comes to everything. Including sex. And so yes, sometimes sex ends up lacking in the relationship simply because both people have gotten a little, well, bored. In response to this, something that a lot of women have told me over the years is that they like the build-up of anticipation. Calls in the middle of the day. A seductive email. A package that contains some lingerie, perfume and a note that says “I can’t wait to see you in this later”. If you can’t remember the last time that you’ve been flirted with your wife or brought home some lingerie that you’d like to see her in, give it a try. You might be amazed by the results you get if you do.

Foreplay is about being a big giver.

One time I was talking to a couple about their problems in the bedroom. When I asked the wife “So, what do you want more of that you’re not getting?”, she literally exclaimed “Oral sex!” And yes, she yelled it. It really does amaze me that there are still guys who tend to be so “high school” about not giving what they wish to receive. And here’s the thing: For those of you who may not be big on blessing your wife in this way, the thing that’s important to understand is that it oftentimes makes her feel a bit self-conscious and not super desirable when you refuse to indulge. And that can affect the kind of sex you get to have with her, along with the frequency. You like to receive it, right? Your wife is no exception. Don’t be selfish. It’s a huge turn-off.

Foreplay is about being patient.

There can be a bit of a thrill when it comes to quickies in the morning; however, if you can’t remember the last time that sex took more than 10 minutes, then it’s time to do a bit of reevaluating. Seduction really is an art form and it really should take longer than one television commercial. One wife told me “I honestly can’t tell the difference between the guys I had sex with in college and my husband humping on me now.” Husbands, that’s not a compliment. College sex, for the most part, is a half a step up from how dogs act when they’re in heat (if you’re lucky). You and your wife committed to being married for a lifetime. Don’t rush love making (or my personal way of putting it, “love celebrating”). You and yours have all the time in the world. Or at least 45-minutes once you figure out how to keep the kids occupied. Foreplay should not be a cue for sex. It should be a part of the entire experience.

Oh! And if you happen to be the husband who actually has the foreplay thing down (um, because your wife told you so), but your wife could stand to improve in this area, feel free to forward her the link. I do know a few husbands that feel the exact same way that a lot of wives do. Duly noted.

By Shellie R. Warren