Deborah Rouse-Raines from Cincinnati, Ohio, is a finalist in the Dear GMA Advice Guru Contest. Read her response to a viewer-submitted question below!
Question from Jane in Ann Arbor, Mich.:"After nearly a year long search, my husband found a job in his field in Chicago - 5 hour train ride away. I work in Ann Arbor and maintain the household here. When he comes home, it seems there is so much catch-up work to do, we spend the whole weekend on repairs, chores, bills, etc. Exhausted, it is all we can do to prepare a good meal before falling asleep. By the time we can think about romance, it is time for him to head back to Chicago. Since our finances are still recovering and living separately has additional cost, our disposable funds are limited and prohibit hiring the repairs and eating meals out, We need some strategies to retain intimacy."
Jane you are not alone. Exhaustion and overextended lives have many couples living parallel lives without time or energy for intimacy. Your question indicates that you are speaking of physical intimacy but emotional intimacy can be a challenge for all couples, even when they aren't separated by physical distance.
Dr. Deb's 5 Steps to Long Distance Intimacy:
Build the Emotional Before the Physical
Start building the emotional connection throughout the week before he returns home. Writing emails, texts and talking on the phone, sharing the good and bad, will help connect you over the distance. Couples tend to do more complaining than complimenting. Focus on positive things about your spouse instead of dwelling on the negative. Appreciation is very sexy and the more you tell the good things about the other, the closer you will feel. A love letter or surprise card can do wonders! Then get more specific!
Texting and Teasing
A few dirty or flirty texts or even phone sex during the week will get that spark going. Our most powerful sex organ is our mind and the more we think about it, the more desire we will feel. Contrary to what Hollywood would like us to believe, many women do not have spontaneous sexual thoughts of desire flooding over them in a heat of passion. In fact, we're pretty neutral most of the time, except occasionally at 2pm and that can easily be satiated with chocolate. Foreplay starts now to create anticipation and excitement for the weekend.
Give up the Grind
Women are notorious for constantly playing that to do list in their head instead of being present in the moment, especially during sex. The first step is to accept that EVERYTHING IS NOT GOING TO GET DONE! Your relationship should be more important than raking leaves. Second, while I know money is tight, sometimes, money spent on services that give you more time together is worth the investment in your relationship.
Put "Do Me" on the "Honey Do"
On your "Honey Do" list put "Do Me" at the top. Couples tend to wait for nighttime and frankly, it's hard to get turned on when you can't stay awake. Agree upon a time that works for both of you and make it a protected time. No matter what chore that you are doing, stop and head to the bedroom. I often recommend lubricants to enhance sexual activity but sometimes the only lubricant you need is on the door handle to the bedroom! Even better, since women take longer to become aroused than men, head up first and have a 5 -15 minutes transition time to turn your head to sexy thoughts while he finishes up the chore. Frankly, knowing that your man is pushing a vacuum or doing some dishes is the best form of foreplay for most women I know.
Finally, after working together, have fun. Life is too short and it doesn't cost a dime to play and enjoy each other.
Blessings, Dr. Deb