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Sabrina here! I’m back with the next installment of our exploration of the “Eight Dates” discussed in Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman, Doug Abrams, and Rachel Carlton Abrams.

Things are getting real personal now! This date is all about intimacy and sex. I appreciate this chapter because it normalizes the struggle most couples have at one time or another with sexual discrepancy (when one person’s level of sexual desire is higher or lower than their partner’s).

I think of it this way: usually there is one partner who has spontaneous desire, and the other has a responsive desire cycle.

The spontaneous type of desire is based on one person basically having a thought about sex, and they are ready to go. There’s not much more to it than that.

On the flipside,the other person who is more responsive typically has to feel connected emotionally, which leads to some emotional foreplay (maybe sharing sexy texts or flirting and teaching each other). Then, that leads to a more physical form of foreplay involving touching, cuddling, kissing, and playing together which then can — but may not! — lead to actually engaging in sex.

Over the years this has been an area Eric and I have struggled with because often, Eric would be the spontaneous one, and I have typically been the more responsive one. 

  • During our Date #3, we talked about this, and honestly, it was really nice. We reminisced about some of our best times of intimacy, some of the struggles, what we really enjoy, and what we don’t. 

We are pretty comfortable with talking about sex, but if this is a difficult topic for you, know you are not alone.
Many couples have a difficult time talking about sex and intimacy. Many people don’t know how to even get this conversation going. The questions outlined in the book are a great start.

But before you embark on Date #3, I want you to make sure you are in a really safe place, relationally speaking. It’s of the utmost importance that you’re both gentle and appreciative toward one another. When we put ourselves out there and talk about the most intimate and personal thing possible, we need to feel safe and secure in order to open up.

If it is difficult to talk about this, I suggest actually writing down your answers and letting your partner read your answers. Remember, it is all about creating a safe space for your partner to talk openly. You might even just start by asking what would make your partner feel safe enough to have this conversation. Does it help to be in a private setting like at home or out in nature or maybe at a quiet table in the back of a romantic restaurant? Wherever you choose to have this conversation, make sure to bring gratitude and grace with you!

Here are the questions from the book (they really are so helpful!):

  1. Think about all the times we’ve had sex. What are some of your favorites? What about that time made it your favorite?
  2. What turns you on?
  3. How can I enhance our passion?
  4. What’s your favorite way for me to let you know I want to have sex?
  5. Where and how do you like to be touched?
  6. What’s your favorite time to make love and why? What’s your favorite position?
  7. Is there something sexually you’ve always wanted to try but have never asked? How often would you like to have sex? 
  8. What can I do to make our sex life better? 

In all of this,
it’s important to bring a “yes, and” attitude to this conversation, rather than a “yes, but” one. It opens your heart to more possibilities and creates fewer roadblocks for your mind.

Finally, if you dare, I challenge you to dress up for this date in a sexy outfit your partner would enjoy. If you are really daring, have them pick out your clothes.

Here’s another suggestion: try to get your mind into the mood even before you start this conversation. If you are shy about this, talk about what you like in a hand massage, and maybe if it’s been a while since you’ve been intimate, start with just that. A hand massage. Start simple.

Be okay, too, with “No.” Don’t get mad at your partner if they aren’t ready or if it’s not the right time for them. And if you’re the one saying “no,” ask yourself what would it take for you to be ready to open up again. Share this in a softened way.

Thanks to what was outlined in the book, Eric and I had a lovely date. We got to talk about all sorts of things we hadn’t talked about in a long time. We celebrated the wins and learned from what wasn’t working. Openness and belief lead the way for us.

I hope the same for you.

If you’d like to explore more of the Eight Dates, we invite you to join us! Get the book and/or download the summary of each date here.