Dr. Stephen Snyder is a sex therapist in New York and author of the new book, "Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship."
It’s 7:30 a.m. and a man is about to leave the house to go to work. Kissing his wife goodbye, he buries his face in her hair to inhale her scent. His arms circle her waist to pull her closer. Her body molds to his and they breathe together for a moment, both feeling excited. Then he looks at his watch and hurries off, waving goodbye.
What is this couple doing?
In sex therapy we call it “simmering.” Simmering means taking a quick moment to feel excited with your partner — even under conditions where it’s not really practical to go any further — for no reason at all, except that it feels good.
Most couples, unfortunately, only get aroused together when they’re going to have sex. As if arousal was some kind of unhappy state of mind they wanted to avoid.
But the happiest couples actually like feeling excited together. It’s not a painful experience. They make a point to enjoy it fully, for its own sake, even when sex isn’t on the menu.
Simmering helps cultivate the right kind of erotic climate in a relationship. In a good relationship, there’s often more simmering than sex. And sometimes, it’s more the simmering than the sex that keeps a couple erotically bonded together.
Teenagers are the real experts on simmering. Here’s a classic example:
Two young people are high school sweethearts. During a five-minute break between classes, they meet at a pre-arranged spot. They smile, kiss, stroke each other’s hair and enjoy each other’s scent. They embrace and their bodies mold together. Then the bell rings. They hold each other’s gaze for a long moment, steal one more kiss, then run off in different directions.
You remember the feeling, right? You get to your next class feeling somewhat buzzed. The intoxication, of course, is sexual arousal in action — making you just a little more distracted than usual.
There’s no reason that older couples can’t get just as distracted in the privacy of their own bedrooms and kitchens. All that’s necessary is to recognize that there’s more to sexual arousal than just sex.
Instead of kissing your partner goodbye in the morning, why not simmer them goodbye? Hold them close for a bit longer than usual. There’s a moment here that won’t come again.
Yes, I know you’re anxious about the day ahead, but this is important, too. Just one minute to simmer on the way out the door in the morning. A pretty good recipe for keeping an erotic connection for even the most harried modern couple.
The payoff in good lovemaking later can be dramatic. Just heat and serve.