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This winter, I decided to save my husband and me some money on the heating bill, and I almost ruined our sex lives in the process. I set our thermostat for 58 degrees. Then, to stay warm, I wore long underwear – under more long underwear – under fleece, under a terry cloth bathrobe.
I was warm, but I looked and felt puffy, frumpy and disheveled. I was the stereotypical lady with hair rollers -- only without the rollers. I didn’t look sexy, and I didn’t feel sexy either.
End result: I was never in the mood.
I started thinking back to last winter, when my sex life was hot, spicy and super enticing. What had changed?
This is what: The winter before, I’d made my sex life a priority. As a result, I was constantly in search of ways to keep the bedroom fires going. Now, just a year later, I’d let sex drop a few rungs down my priority list. What a difference.
So I took some steps to turn up the heat and transform myself from frumpy back to sexy. I asked other women to share how they ensured they felt sexy both in the winter and during the rest of the year, too. What follows is that advice.
1. Primp every day. The definition of “primping” differs from woman to woman. But wearing a ponytail and sweats definitely is not it, and it’s probably what cooled my sex drive this winter. Freelance journalist Janene Mascarella tells me that dabbing on a little perfume everyday will do the trick. Carla Wobser Hawkins says a regular mani/pedi helps her feel sexy -- and it keeps her feet soft and silky, too. Two other women told me to groom as if it were summer -- shave my legs, arms and nether areas as if I were going to be wearing a bikini. Then moisturize all over.
After hearing this advice, I realized that I mostly needed to get dressed up -- even if I wasn’t leaving the house. I have to get out of my sweats and into a sexy outfit before I’m ready to get back out of it again.
2. Start with a hot shower or bath. Taking off layers of clothes so you can romp around naked between cold sheets is a lot like racing into the Massachusetts ocean on New Year’s Day while wearing only a bathing suit. Well, at the very least, it's a close second.
This is where a hot shower comes in. It serves as a transitional zone, helping to ease you out of your clothing and, eventually, into the bedroom. Bonus points if you take the shower together.
3. Follow up with a massage—and heat up the oil first. When your mind is turned on with worrisome thoughts (I’ve gotta get the groceries and pay the bills and wash the dishes and help the kids with their homework and check my e-mail and call my mother and finish this work project…), your sex drive is often turned off. A massage can help you transition from your stressful (and not-always-so-sexy) roles as mother and breadwinner and into your role as sex Goddess or God. It can also make you feel sexy by lubricating your skin, which can be very dry during winter months. Heat the oil first and things will warm up quickly.
4. Seduce him (and you). Last winter I was seducing my husband on a regular basis. I might get dressed up in heels and a men’s dress shirt and prance around as a lure. I might do a strip tease. This winter, however, I started doing something else. It was this: I would say, “I guess we should have sex. What do you think?” He’d say, “Sure.” We’d go to the bedroom and get naked. It all lacked a certain amount of pizzazz. I realized that in seducing my husband, I was also seducing myself. And once I started seducing him (and me) again, my sex life heated right back up.
5. Set a fitness goal. Freelance writer Heather Durocher tells me that marathon training offered her an unusual side benefit. “I’m so refreshed each day. My endorphins are pumping. My body is leaner and stronger than ever, and I just feel sexy.” Indeed, sexiness is more about how you feel on the inside than about how you look on the outside. And feeling sexy comes from treating your body like a shrine—get enough exercise and rest and eat a healthy diet.
Alisa Bowman is author of “Project: Happily Ever After” and collaborator of seven New York Times bestsellers. She offers marriage advice at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com. Alisa is a former magazine editor and newspaper reporter who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter.