fabulous foreplayBored with your bedroom antics? Achieving toe-curling satisfaction may be as simple as re-visiting first base says sex therapist Charmaine Saunders

In his book, Sexual Joy, Sex therapist and author, Dr Michael Clarke, speaks of the 23-and-a-half-hour foreplay. Of course, he doesn't mean that couples should engage in sexual gymnastics for that length of time before intercourse. Instead, he's using foreplay in the broader sense of the term, with the emphasis on play. The remaining half-hour is for the actual physical interchange. But leading up to this should be an entire spectrum of love-play, including touching, smiling, stroking, hand-holding, laughing, kissing, massage, hugging and talking.

The importance of intimacy

In this way, a general sense of intimacy is created long before a couple goes to bed or wherever else they have sex. Most people lead pressured, busy lives today and sex, particularly on weekdays, can often be a hurried, ungracious event, even an afterthought. Men can find release in this way but most women do not find this form of sexual activity very satisfying.

A client once told me that sex was her `last chore of the day,' which really is not the best way to enjoy your partner. If Dr Clarke's idea is adopted, both parties will be ready and willing without the need for further hours of stimulation.

Making time for love-making is crucial. Couples with children find it very difficult to incorporate private time into an already over-stretched schedule but it's vital to make quality time on a regular basis. Mrs John McEnroe says that foreplay for couples with children is the wife calling out to her husband when a small window of opportunity arises, `You, me, bed, now!'

I usually recommend to my counselling clients that they engage in two types of love-making - the spontaneous, raunchy kind which is generally known as a `quickie,' and then make actual appointments as well to enjoy each other at leisure. The first kind cannot be planned but certainly, the second kind can. Women are usually the ones who complain about lack of time, perhaps because the fairer sex requires more `romancing,' as already stated. That's not to say women don't want to just have physical contact but quality is preferred to quantity whereas a lot of men judge the success of their marriage by frequency of sexual encounters.

A typical modern couple complained to me that with four children and a demanding law career on his part, their time together was virtually non-existent. I went through their weekly schedule with them and it was decided that Sunday night was the only one they could realistically set aside. So, I suggested they make it `their' night, set the table with all the trimmings, open a bottle of wine and just sit and enjoy each other before attempting love-making. It might sound too arbitrary but it worked for them as all through their busy week, they had a golden evening to look forward to.

Another couple who had horribly clashing schedules came up with a very creative idea - his job required that he stay out till late evening most nights so she would eat early with the children, go to bed with them then get up when he got home and play!