Dear Dr. Jenni,
I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for over a year. I love her and for the most part enjoy her company. The main problem is that we fight a lot about trivial and unimportant things. Part of me is really bothered by this, but on the plus side, we end up always having make-up sex. The sex is great! But I can’t help wondering if this is healthy. Sometimes it seems like we are starting fights just to have makeup sex. The worst part is that our sex in general is not very good unless it follows a fight. Why might this be?
Make-up sex can be enormously sexy, as anger is often an offshoot of passion. However, if the relationship lacks passion unless you are fighting, this can adversely impact you in the long run. You may both start to rely solely on anger and fighting for initiating sex. While this may pump up your adrenaline, it derails the relationship’s stability and can harm emotional health.
If the adrenaline is the impetus of arousal, then play with other activities that get those hormones going. Perhaps take a run together and race her to the finish line for the last 200 yards; challenge her to a wrestling match (if you are stronger, use one arm); or take a trip to Elitch Gardens in Denver and have the roller coasters do the work. If the bickering doesn’t slow down, then also consider looking specifically at what you are fighting about to see if you can address a deeper, problematic theme.
Dear Dr. Jenni,
My wife and I have been married for a year and half. We are starting to feel that our sex lives are getting monotonous and stale. We are thinking of opening the relationship to have extra sexual partners on the side for fun. We have an 8-month-old baby, too, and want to ensure her well-being. Any tips on how to transition our family to this arrangement?
—Open to Possibilities
Proceed with caution. Having frequent and undisturbed sex can be difficult when simultaneously caring for a baby. However, swinging doesn’t necessarily solve a stale sex life. Truthfully, I advise couples interested in alternative lifestyles to only open a relationship when the relationship feels stable and secure enough to do so (and when both partners wish to do so). It’s when you are close and connected that you are able to feel safe in sharing.
Now, if you both feel secure and ready, and are still looking for that extra thrill, then proceed slowly. Dipping your toe into the lifestyle is best done with clear communication and pre-set boundaries. These boundaries may evolve with time, but you want to ensure you are always on the same page.
As for your baby, get a good babysitter when you go out. I always advocate transparency and honesty with kids, but do so with mindfulness to age-appropriate development. This may mean you don’t tell your kids until college, or not at all if they never ask. For example, your daughter may know you have a healthy sex life, but she probably will never know exactly what you do behind closed doors. She may know you have friends, but she may not be privy to the content of those conversations.
Same goes for other areas where you choose to maintain privacy, and when and how you choose to disclose, if asked.
Send questions for Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., to firstname.lastname@example.org. Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.