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Is it Permissible to Call "Time Out" in the Middle of Lovemaking?

Some people get angry or upset if a partner stops in the middle of a passionate lovemaking session and wants to discuss something. Is that true for you or your partner? Do you prefer a non-stop progression from kissing to touching to genital contact without much conversation, or do you enjoy occasional check-in conversations as part of your intimacy?

Based on 23 years of counseling couples, I've found there are 2 important things to consider regarding the issue of "time outs" during lovemaking. They are:

1) In general, it's best to have an occasional how-to or choreography conversation during a quiet, relaxed moment when you're not making love. Even if you've been together for a while, there is always a lot to learn and improve about how to respect each other's sensual preferences and individual likes and dislikes.

The best time to teach each other about what kind of kissing, touching, orgasms, and afterglow you each prefer is when you're taking a walk together in nature, when you're having a phone conversation about how much you're both looking forward to your next time together, or when you're having a relaxing conversation before or after a hot-and-intense lovemaking session. 

One of you can say, "I've always wanted to show you my favorite way of being kissed." Or you can suggest (without any criticism or harshness), "The way I most prefer to be touched when we're making love is..." Or you can confide to each other, "The secret recipe that seems to bring me the most amazing orgasms is when..." Then gently and cooperatively brainstorm about what you each like or dislike during lovemaking. 

I've found that the couples who take a few minutes each week or each month to exchange a few non-judgmental comments about their lovemaking preferences are continually expanding and improving their closeness and intimacy, while the couples who never talk about sex are usually falling into a repetitive rut.

2) However, if in the middle of lovemaking, one of you has something important to clear up that is causing you to feel pained, uncomfortable, distracted, disrespected, or emotionally distant, it is a very good idea to call a brief time out to get back on track. Simply say in a non-attacking tone of voice, "I just need a minute to tell you what's going on with me. I promise things will be even more enjoyable once this gets cleared up." Or calmly tell your partner, "I need a quick time out so we can improve something that would make this even more wonderful."

Then in a supportive way, explain what was making you feel pained, uncomfortable, distracted, or shut down. I've found in hundreds of couples that these brief, cooperative time-out conversations can quickly resolve problems that would otherwise turn into messy resentments or disastrously bad lovemaking. In fact, if you and your partner are able to clear things up in a few seconds by having one of these non-critical, non-attacking brief time outs, you will be amazed at how it adds to the intensity of your lovemaking. Rather than spending minutes or hours feeling distant or uncomfortable about something, you will now have the freedom and trust to improve whatever needs improving in a matter of seconds.

The first key to making one of these sexual conversations successful is for the partner who is offering a suggestion to do so in a loving and non-judgmental way. Don't say, "You never this or you always that." It's much more effective to say enticingly, "There's an important secret I've always wanted to share with you. Here's what I think will make things even more exciting for both of us..."

The second key to making one of these sexual conversations successful is for the partner who is receiving the suggestion to listen non-defensively and to realize your partner just wants to improve things. If your brain or your ego starts to feel defensive and you find yourself wanting to say in a testy voice, "Well, there are things I wish you would do differently, too," stop yourself and remind yourself, "The only reason my partner is giving me this suggestion is to make things even hotter between us. Listen up, dude, and if you're smart you'll pick up on this important clue to what your partner desires." 

For example, if your partner tries to tell you or show you exactly how she likes to be kissed, don't get all defensive and say, "But my ex thought I was a great kisser." That would be the quickest way to turn this brief time-out into a long and ugly clash. A better option is to say to yourself, "Pay attention and you will learn exactly what warms up this partner and what she's always wanted you to figure out without any clues. Thank goodness she's finally telling me the precise kissing style that she finds most exciting. This brief conversation is going to pay dividends over and over again if I can replicate exactly the kind of kiss she loves the most."

When your partner summons up the courage to tell you what's working and what's not working about the lovemaking you've been having together, it's not an assessment of whether you're a good person or a great lover. It's a chance for two unique human beings to become even more intimate and more passionate than they've ever been before.

©2006 Leonard Felder

Leonard Felder is a licensed psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles. As a popular lecturer and recognized expert on how to improve personal relationships, his books have sold more than 1 million copies. His latest book is Wake Up or Break Up: The 8 Crucial Steps to Strengthening Your Relationship See www.wakeuporbreakup.com

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