Could a personal trainer supercharge your sex life? Imagine a therapist telling you what to put where while you’re actually making love? We challenged stressed married couples to do just that – with eye-popping results
- Study shows up to 65 per cent of British women are dissatisfied in the bedroom
- Lucy-Anne Holmes teaches women to rediscover and find joy in the bedroom
- Sexual priestess reveals the outcome of giving three couples instructions
- Among them is Donia Chouikha, 36, who hasn’t felt sexy since giving birth
What a rollercoaster year it’s been in the bedroom. One minute our appetite for sex spiked with our heightened awareness of our own mortality, the next we were too exhausted and anxious for even a cuddle, let alone a quickie. Especially when we’d spent all morning in the same bedroom Zooming our boss.
But our new freedoms have led to a summer ‘sexplosion’ with sales of condoms and sex toys soaring and talk of a new ‘roaring 20s’. There’s also, I’m pleased to report, a sudden interest in sex re-education — casting off our British inhibitions to learn more about our bodies and desires.
At last we are realising that practice makes pleasure. And if you want to understand the female orgasm, for example, you need to start by understanding the female body.
Earlier this year, I wrote in these pages about my role as a sexual priestess, helping women rediscover — or learn for the first time — how to find joy in the bedroom. Many of them come to me because they have fallen out of love with sex or can’t imagine rekindling a spark that died years ago.
Sexual priestess Lucy-Anne Holmes, reveals the outcome of helping three couples rediscover joy in the bedroom. Pictured: Donia Chouikha, 36, and husband Izam, 41,
And boy, did my piece hit a nerve. Femail was inundated with letters from readers who saw their own flagging sex lives reflected back at them — hardly a surprise when studies show that up to 65 per cent of British women are dissatisfied in the bedroom, and one in three claim they don’t want any sex at all. We started a conversation that has since spread like wildfire as women open up to the idea that they — and their partners — really do have much still to learn in the bedroom.
Overwhelmed with enquiries, I decided to offer practical help to some of those Mail readers who wrote in.
Meditation, movement, conversation and healing rituals are the tools I use in my work.
I asked three couples to set aside 30 minutes for five days to listen to an audio recording of instructions, including conversation prompts, guided touch activities and advice on tuning into their partner’s preferences.
Yes, they may have hit a bump in the road, but I felt confident that if they were brave enough to try, they could find their way back to fulfilling, even earth-shattering sex.
Would you dare to go back to sex school? Here, our courageous couples reveal what happened when they did . . .
I RESENTED HIM TOO MUCH TO DESIRE HIM
Becky Bohan, 41, an events organiser, is married to Kieran, 50, a supervisor for a contracting company. They live with their three children aged ten, nine and six, in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. She says:
We’ve been married for 12 years and, before the pandemic, we used to have sex a couple of times a week. I had to transfer my work online while homeschooling the children, too. But nothing changed for Kieran: he went to work and enjoyed adult conversation and coffee breaks with his colleagues while I was stuck at home.
Becky Bohan, 41, who lives in Hertfordshire with husband Kieran, said the exercises made them feel closer and led to slow passionate sex (file image)
There were times when Kieran dreaded returning home to my resentment and wanted to walk back out the door again.
As for sex, the children wanted constant cuddles and attention so I had nothing left to give Kieran at the end of each day.
Suddenly, we were lucky if we had sex once or twice a month.
Kieran has a high sex drive and, when we first got together, we’d often make love a few times a day. I miss that desire and long to be able to spend some quality time alone together.
Becky says: The first exercise was about connecting with one another. We talked about our first kiss (which I struggled to remember!) and it brought us close physically — I loved the snuggle at the end.
When I had to do the ‘honouring’ exercise — where you are guided by the audio to massage and gently touch your partner — I was shattered, but I’m glad we did it because, afterwards, I felt totally relaxed.
Even though Kieran was on the receiving end of kissing and touching, the pressure was off me because we were told not to go any further sexually.
We felt closer afterwards — and actually did end up having slow passionate sex.
When it was time to honour my body, the children would not go to sleep. By the time I was free, it was 10.30pm and I found Kieran asleep on the sofa. We had a row and left it until the following day.
I enjoyed the light touches and massage but it brought up lots of issues about my body. When the gyms closed, I gained weight and feel conscious about it.
Also, I found it hard to relax and kept thinking I ‘should’ be doing something.
Rather than us just plodding along, this has opened up conversations that needed to happen. We didn’t have sex afterwards on this occasion, we cuddled and had a discussion and felt much more connected and able to share our feelings. I believe Kieran is now more understanding of how I feel.
We’ll do the exercises again now these issues have been brought to light.
Kieran says: When the first exercise started and I was told to close my eyes, I giggled. But, even so, it was nice and calming. I particularly liked receiving kisses on my chest and heart (as instructed by the audio).
Kieran said he would’ve preferred to follow his own instincts but the exercise did lead to amazing sex (file image)
It didn’t feel natural following instructions as I’d have preferred to follow my own instincts, however, it did lead to amazing sex.
It was a real pleasure for me to focus on Becky and help her body and mind calm down. The exercises helped me get across that I love and support her.
Also, sex is not just me wanting to receive pleasure, I want Becky to experience it as much as me.
I’m looking forward to exploring our desires further.
Although it’s not just about the sex, but the whole experience of being a couple.
LUCY-ANNE’S NEXT STEPS:
As Becky discovered, anger and resentment aren’t conducive to good sex. A common problem during the pandemic when mums carried the burden of homeschooling.
I think creating a regular Sexy Sunday time in the diary would be good for them. For Becky, who’s been feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by all her responsibilities, it might be good for her to take a little time by herself to relax beforehand.
Kieran might be able to support her here, too. For many women, the sexiest words to hear from their partner might be: ‘How about I run you a bath and then do the vacuuming?’
AFTER 13 YEARS, I DIDN’T FEEL THAT SEXUAL PULL
School receptionist Clare Smith, 42, is married to Rob, 40, a civil servant. They live in Braintree, Essex, and have two children Sophie, 12 and Ben, ten. She says:
Clare Smith, 42, who lives in Essex with husband Rob, 40, (pictured) said laughing during the exercises reminded her of when they first met in their late 20s
We’ve been together for more than 13 years and, before the pandemic, our sex life was fine, but I don’t feel that instant sexual pull towards Rob any more.
I’ve had to juggle the children, starting a new business and the housework. Sex wasn’t even on the bottom of my list.
I’m just not sure how, after a rough year, we can start having regular sex again. It’s as though I’ve forgotten what to do.
Rob is still tactile with me but I have physically and emotionally switched off. I’ve pushed him away and I do feel guilty. We’re lucky if we have sex once a month and we really need help to get intimate with one another again.
Clare says: The first audio was quite spiritual and hippyish, which neither of us are. The exercise involved us imagining a light going from our head to our lips to our genitals. I did giggle a lot at some of the terminology used.
Me laughing made Rob smile, too, it reminded me of when we met in our late 20s — there was a lot more laughter then.
During one exercise, I was asked to concentrate on Rob and it really wound me up. Whenever I’m ‘told’ to do something, I can become obstinate and it made me feel resentful.
Rob said the exercises felt a bit forced and they realise now that their sex life tends to be spontaneous. Pictured: Rob and Clare
By day five, the exercises were quite sexualised and we had to talk about the parts of one another’s body we like. Rob told me what he liked about me which was a pleasant surprise and I did the same which was undoubtedly a massive ego boost for him.
While Lucy-Anne’s approach was a bit woo-woo for us, it did open up a dialogue about what we both enjoy and has brought us closer.
After the exercises had ended, I instigated sex with Rob which I hadn’t done in a long while. I felt more confident in myself to approach him and take the lead.
Since then, our sex life has returned and we do have a better understanding of what the other one likes.
Rob says: Lucy-Anne was lovely but I didn’t realise the coaching would be so ‘out there’. For me, it was a bit strange to totally lose myself in the moment and it wasn’t helped by Clare laughing.
We carried on because we wanted to give it a good go, although one phrase about ‘drawing insight from within your heart’ left me a bit clueless. The exercises felt a bit forced and we realise now that our sex life tends to be spontaneous.
Lucy-Anne advised Rob and Clare (pictured) to think about creating a regular diary slot to connect in an intimate way together
It was a bit off-putting having someone speaking in the background in the bedroom with us. But I’m glad we did it and our sex life has improved as a result.
LUCY-ANNE’S NEXT STEPS
It’s not surprising Clare’s libido had taken a tumble — she has been totally overloaded. Plus, keeping that initial spark alive after years together is hard.
Foreplay can go out of the window, we stop enjoying sex and want it less and less.
But Clare and Rob are in a great place now, which is so good.
They hope to keep the spontaneity of sex alive, but if they find themselves worrying it is happening less and less, they might like to think about creating a regular diary slot where, for just an hour each week, they promise to connect in an intimate way together. Doing this takes away the need for one person in the couple to initiate, which can be a big relief.
Clare and Rob have such fun together, I think they could enjoy this.
OUR SEX DRIVE’S GONE SINCE WE HAD A BABY
Massage therapist Donia Chouikha, 36, is married to Izam, 41, a chartered accountant. They live in London with their daughter, Alysha, 11 months. She says:
Donia Chouikha, 36, who lives in London with husband Izam, 41, (pictured), said the first exercise didn’t go to plan because Izam had forgotten her birthday
We met in 2017 on a dating app, and married 18 months ago. I gave birth last May and still don’t feel sexy about my post-pregnancy body and C-section scars.
I do still desire and love Izam, but we used to have sex every day. Since Izam was made redundant in September, it’s more like once every six weeks.
If I talk to him about it, he’ll either suggest we discuss it later or have sex right now. But I want to be desired without prompting him. I’m hoping these exercises will bring back romance.
Donia says: The first exercise didn’t go to plan because it was my birthday and Izam had forgotten. I was furious — a sex coaching session was the last thing on my mind. The following day our daughter was ill and Izam was working.
So we did exercises one and two the same evening. During the meditation, I was able to let go of all my anger, which surprised me.
Donia said she and Izam (pictured) were hugging and kissing throughout the day after the second exercise
At one point, Lucy-Anne said: ‘Look at each other, hold your gaze and look deeply into their eyes.’
I saw Izam as a kind man who I love. We connected in a way we haven’t done in a long time and I cried a lot. Izam also got emotional, which is rare.
After the second exercise, we cuddled and went to bed. The following morning we were much more tactile with one another, hugging and kissing throughout the day.
After the third exercise, which focused on touching one another, we ended up having sex.
Wow! We took our time and enjoyed the whole act from foreplay through to orgasm. I haven’t felt that in the moment for months. We have promised to carve out at least half an hour each week to share memories and appreciate one another.
Izam says: If I’m honest I was doing this for Donia, and didn’t expect to get anything out of it. It didn’t help that we got off on the wrong footing over her birthday, either. But I’ve now learned to make more time for her.
Izam said the exercise reassured Donia (pictured) that he loves her and that she is desirable, therefore it was helpful to have a third person’s perspective
Donia seems reassured that I love her and she is still desirable. I also think she now appreciates that life isn’t a soap opera — those kinds of romantic highs and lows aren’t real life!
It was helpful to have a third person’s perspective and, thanks to this week, we got a glimpse of our relationship before we became parents.
LUCY-ANNE’S NEXT STEPS:
I’ve yet to meet a couple who don’t struggle with sex after becoming parents.
At the same time, early motherhood can be a time when we especially want to feel loved and safe in our relationship.
Earmarking some quality time for one another in the diary each week is a great way to support Donia getting this. Time to share words of love and also touch with each other. The audios worked really well for them, so perhaps they could repeat them or do something similar each week.
As told to Samantha Brick
Try Lucy’s audio therapy at thecouplesspace.com. Lucy’s book Women On Top Of The World is out now (£20, Quercus)
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