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The Shape of Your Sex Life: The Naked Truth

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There’s a lot of wonderful things to look forward to once you’re married: Unconditional love, a constant companion, never having to experience a terrible first date again. But we’ve all heard the horror stories as well—it’s all good three days in, but after the honeymoon, once you realize you’ll never be able to sleep with another guy again, the hot sex slowly starts to burn out.

But don’t believe everything you hear—saying “I do” doesn’t have to mean saying “goodbye” to the exciting sex life that comes with singledom. How do we know? Because a few wise relationship experts have set the record straight on which not-so-steamy marriage myths we shouldn’t be so quick to believe.

Myth #1 Everybody has mind-blowing sex on their wedding night.  "This belief is so off base," says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at the University of Washington and the author of Everything You Know About Love and Sex Is Wrong. "After the ceremony and reception, a lot of couples are tired or a little tipsy and have just spent a huge amount of energy making sure all of their friends and family had a good time. The last thing they feel in the mood for is a steamy night together between the sheets."

And while it isn't as common as it used to be, there are still people who decide to wait until after they get married to have sex for the first time. That scenario throws in a curveball. "You don't know each other's bodies yet, you're feeling a little awkward, and there's been a lot of buildup," says Schwartz. Add all of that to the mental and physical exhaustion you’re feeling from the day’s festivities and you’ve got a recipe for less-than-amazing sex. (See more Sex Mistakes Screwing You Up in the Sack.)

But don't despair. "Whether or not you're intimate on your first night as husband and wife is only as important as you let it be," assures Schwartz. "Your wedding day should be all about the ceremony and the commitment you're making—you don't have to make love for it to be memorable." However, if you do decide that you want sex to be a part of your big day, plan ahead to make sure it goes smoothly. "In the same way that you and your fiancé have discussed your DJ, vows, and honeymoon, you should talk about what you expect to happen on your wedding night," says Rita DeMaria, Ph.D., the director of relationship education at the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia and co-author of The 7 Stages of Marriage. "Get on the same page by deciding not to drink too much and making sure that you leave the reception and head back to your room at a reasonable hour."

Myth #2 Once you're married, the desire dies.  While you may not always want to rip his clothes off the way you do right now, Schwartz says that doesn't mean the sex has to get any less satisfying. "There are a lot of ways to keep the passion alive for years to come," she says. "Wear sexy clothes, flirt, go out on dates, seduce each other." (Check out more Kinky Upgrades for Your Sex Life.)

One of the best strategies for refreshing your relationship is to try new activities together. Pick ones that get your adrenaline pumping, like riding a scary roller coaster, learning how to surf, or even watching an action-packed thriller. "Experiencing that heart-thumping rush physically stimulates you, which also enhances your sexual connection," says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University of Michigan.

As for day-to-day activities, DeMaria encourages a lot of physical contact. "Holding hands when you're walking through the mall, helping him put on his coat, and even playfully smacking his butt when you walk by him in the hallway all show affection," she says.

To keep your bond strong, every few months try this exercise taught at Miraval Resort & Spa in Arizona: Sit in your partner's lap (clothed or nude) facing him and wrap your legs around his back. Close your eyes, put your foreheads together, and breathe in unison for two minutes. The synchronized inhales and exhales create a strong sexual energy between the two of you.

Myth #3 As you get older and put on a few pounds, your husband won't be attracted to you anymore. You may be busy worrying about which position best flattens your tummy, but he's focusing on the pleasure of the moment, says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and the author of Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need, and Deserve. Your guy's not imagining you 5 pounds lighter or cataloging any of your perceived flaws; he’s turned on by the way you look right now. Try to put aside your insecurities and pay more attention to what excites you—and your partner—Schwartz advises.

"Men are visual, and they need to look at our bodies and see that we're confident about them."

One easy way to guarantee you feel proud of the way you look: Work out regularly. Not only will you stay in good shape physically, but when you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that improve your mood and relax you. "This is the state of mind required to feel fully aroused," says Hutcherson. "You can have a love life without working out, but you'll enjoy it more when you're getting the benefits of exercise." (Exercising can also leave to better orgasms. Here, 7 Ways Exercise Makes You Better in Bed.)

Myth #4 Life gets busy, and it can be hard to squeeze in sex. "You have to make sure sex remains a priority in your marriage so that your bond stays strong," says DeMaria. "You may not feel like getting it on in the sack when you're overwhelmed, but you should. Since sex is a natural stress reducer, it can help lower your anxiety." (Did you know that a sexless marriage is one of the 8 Sex-Related Problems Women Stress Over?)

That said, it's tough to get in the mood after a hectic day at work. One way around this is to make love in the morning—you'll feel rested and refreshed, and men's testosterone levels are highest then, according to Hutcherson. "Try setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier; you'll start off the day on a positive note."

If crazy mornings make the above scenario unrealistic, don't waste your evenings by zoning out in front of the TV. In fact, you would benefit from having a set only in your living room. Couples whose bedrooms are TV-free have sex twice as often as those who channel surf in bed, according to an Italian study.

Myth #5 A part of you will always pine for the guy who got away. First of all, know that it's completely natural to have cold feet before your walk down the aisle. And part of that may cause you to compare your fiancé to an old flame. But it helps to remind yourself why you're daydreaming of your ex in the first place. "A lot of it comes down to the fact that he's unavailable, which can make him seem more desirable," says Schwartz. That, combined with the likelihood that you're focusing on the positive aspects of your former relationship (and forgetting the reasons you broke up), can make you a little nervous. Overcome this feeling by reminding yourself of all the reasons you love your fiancé. “If your current relationship is full of trust, companionship, and affection, you’ll be happy and satisfied for years to come,” says Schwartz. "And because you and your soon-to-be-husband are attracted to each other and emotionally connected, the sex just keeps on improving. (Can a Work Crush Benefit Your At-Home Relationship?)


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