Aromatherapy, your best French maid uniform—sure, that stuff can set a sexy stage, but what if you’re not even in the mood to light those candles? And that costume might help your husband rev up, but what’s it doing for you? For those moments when you intellectuallyknow you want to get down, or at the very least, that you should, but you’re just not feeling it, we have you covered.
1. Clean up
Nope, nothing kinky here. We literally mean de-clutter your home, throw out that old stack of newspapers you’ve been hoarding, organize your messy makeup drawer that adds 10 minutes to your morning routine, and check off other items on your to-do list. Ian Kerner, sexpert and founder of GoodinBed.com says, “In order for women to relax into arousal mode, the parts of their brain that associate with outside stressors must deactivate during and before sex.” So whip out the Windex, delete messages from your over-crowded inbox, and clear your mind so you can get it on with your husband.
2. Share your dreams with him
Experts will tell you that communicating your desires with your spouse is the key to a healthy sex life, but sharing your turn-ons with your husband can be difficult if you’re bashful. Kerner suggests starting by telling him about a naughty “dream” you had in which he stripped for you Magic Mike–style and you just couldn’t get enough. This way, you don’t have to be embarrassed about expressing yourself outright. He’ll get the hint.
3. Flirt with your waiter
When you’re out to dinner with your gent, give another guy your best girlish giggle and then wink at your husband so he knows this flirtation is all part of your plan. Getting attention from another man will make you feel desired. Plus, according to men’s relationship expert Todd Valentine, “When men see another guy flirting with you or you flirting with another guy, we want to stake our claim and have our way with you immediately. Lingerie and costumes are good, but playing to our emotions and psychology is even better, and a more powerful way to get us turned on.” Watching his primal instincts activate will get you going, too.
4. Pick up a cucumber on your next trip to the farmers market
No, it’s not what you’re thinking. This is strictly for smelling purposes. Dr. Alan Hirsch, author of Scentsational Sex, found that women were aroused by the fragrance of cucumbers. Why? He says the smell relaxes us and therefore makes us more open to desire. So lather on that cucumber-scented lotion, or simply eat one for a healthy pre-sex snack. As an added benefit, they increase blood flow to all parts of your body.
5. Send a sexy Snapchat
It might sound totally counterintuitive to send your husband a suggestive text while you’re at your desk and feeling far from frisky, but according to relationship coach and Your Great Life TV founder Bernardo Mendez, doing so will “get his imagination running wild so that when he comes home to you that evening, brimming with his enthusiasm, his excitement will help to enhance your fervor.” Thinking about your husband entering the house ready to pounce will get those fantasies going while you’re mired in spreadsheets.
6. Let it go
We’re sorry for now getting the Frozen soundtrack stuck in your head, but the song applies. If you’re having trouble feeling sensual because you’re stressed, you have to compartmentalize whatever is bothering you. Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women, suggests that you need to realize that just because one aspect of your day was hellacious—you had a fight with your tyrannical boss, or spilled a latte all over your new white jeans you splurged on—that doesn’t mean other parts of your day also have to be spoiled. He says, “Do as men do, and tell yourself that you can still have a positive intimate experience despite what else is on your mind.”
7. Read a scintillating book
Dr. Haltzman scientifically endorses picking up 50 Shades of Grey. “So much of sex is a mental thing, and escaping into that story will help you better recognize your own sexuality,” he says. Bondage doesn’t do it for you? There’s always vampire sex books, cowboy sex books, sci-fi Victorian princess-robots sex books, or just plain ol’ articles about Ryan Reynolds.
8. Take some zinc
There’s a reason why oysters are considered an aphrodisiac, and it’s not (entirely) because of all the slippery slurping. Oysters are chock-full of zinc, which helps your body produce testosterone—that helpful hormone that regulates your libido. So take advantage of that $1 oyster special at your local bar, or if you’re not a fan of all that sea grime, simply take zinc supplements.
9. Eliminate cold feet
The next time your husband gives you slack for making out with him while wearing those fuzzy pink socks that Santa puts in your stocking every year, go ahead and tell him this: Those socks are actually keeping you stimulated. One study revealed that a couple’s chance of climaxing increases by 80 percent when they’re wearing socks because they’re more comfortable. So go ahead, leave those puppies on.
10. And if all else fails, just give it 10 minutes
You’ve had an exhausting Friday hosting the world’s messiest playdate. You just read the kids their bedtime stories, you have cupcake frosting in your bangs, and all you want to do is snuggle up with Jimmy Fallon. Your husband, turned on by your vanilla-scented hair (vanilla is another aphrodisiac, after all), starts to advance. Sure, you could just shut it down, or you could give him 10 minutes to touch you and see where it goes. “After 30 seconds, you’re likely to see a major mood shift,” says Dr. Haltzman. “The gateway to engage in sex doesn’t have to be ‘I feel like it.’ The gateway should be that you agree to allow yourself to try to get in the mood, and then suddenly you will be.” This will sound obvious, but unlike men who have a… growing member, women can’t always recognize when they’re aroused internally. Dr. Haltzman suggests that you should touch yourself while you’re being intimate with your husband. You might find out that you’re more physically stimulated than you realized. This will reinforce the notion that you’re a sexual being, not just a tired, working mom with sprinkles on her brow. This shift in perspective, he says, will start to get you more interested in having a sexual relationship. Fallon can always wait.