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“Taking time to reconnect with the person you married” is good advice. But work, kids, in-laws and a million other things can make it impossible to find time for leisurely date nights. And it gets worse if your kids are under five – toddler attention span is so short you’re lucky to get 10 minutes to yourself.
But fortunately you can snag small windows of time that are perfect for little moments of affection, love and physical intimacy. If love is a full meal, these are like “sexy snacks” that can keep your marriage feeling strong and sexy. And they’re all under 10 minutes each;
5 minutes: Do the neck-to-knee hug
Five minutes with your body pressed to his, from your neck to your knees. In several studies, men greeted with this intimately-physical greeting reported feeling much more connected to their wives. Another trick is to say goodbye in the morning with a proper kiss on the lips – and another of those neck to knee hugs. Again, couples who do this report feeling closer.
7 minutes: Tickle him while you watch TV
Maybe you’re both staring at your phone screens, or sitting on the sofa binge-watching a zombie marathon (guilty). Either way, it’s surprisingly easy to sit next to each other for hours, hardly touching. So next time you settle down, make a point of touching him for at least five minutes: stroke his back, tickle his ears the way he likes it, or give him a head massage – the key is to do it consciously, so you’re both in the moment.
10 minutes: Be a romantic geek
Studies show couples who are separated by geographical distance make more of an effort to stay in touch using modern technology like video chats, FaceTime and Skype. So next time you have a few moments free, try a video chat with your man. Or even just send him a kissy face icon message via Whatsapp. It's a small thing, but it shows him that he is in your thoughts.
8 minutes: Let your passion show
We're all great at something, but in Asian culture we're taught to be modest to the point of invisibility. Admit it; you may be a great cook, but you probably act like it's nothing when guests compliment you.
But hold on... humans are competitive. So when your man sees you doing something you are good at - especially if others see it too - it can unconsciously trigger memories of why he fell in love with you in the first place.
It can also be very exciting watching someone do something they love to do - especially if they do it well. This is one reason why rockstars become sex symbols even if they're not that good looking. It's exciting to watch their passion take over them!
So let your passion show at something you do well. Sing your heart out in the car, fly a kite, organise a party. Give your man a golden opportunity to be proud of the fantastic woman he's got on his arm.
4 minutes: Surprise him
It's a no-brainer that your man likes to know that you admire him. But what's surprising is he will feel the pleasurable effects more if you show him in a surprising way. It's something to do with pleasure receptors in the brain, apparently.
Your surprising gesture doesn't have to be complicated or soppy either - it just has to give him a boost when he least expects it.
So use chocolate syrup to draw a heart on his breakfast toast, or buy that shampoo he wants and leave it in your shower with a note saying "Love from me to you". (See also: 9 small but impactful gestures that show you care)
10 minutes: Echo his moves
Opposites may attract - but only for a while. Marriage studies show we feel most attracted to a person when we sense that they're like us in important ways.
Body mirroring is such a powerful way to feel connected that you see it happen unconsciously in close couples - they walk and sit and move in a similar way. Psychologists also sometimes use it in therapy, to help people open up.
So try this trick if you feel the need to reconnect with your man especially after you've been travelling for work or your schedules just haven't meshed for a while.
The trick is to be subtle about it; if he leans forward excitedly to make a point in the conversation, you do too. It may feel forced at the start but after a while the mirroring will happen naturally.
8 minutes: Write down your frustrations
It's fashionable to say couples need to "talk through" all their disagreements to reach a compromise. Actually, they don't.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is agree to disagree. You think his mother is crazy to wear such short skirts at her age. He doesn't. Whatever. You're never going to agree and there's no point arguing about it... but you do still need to vent.
Writing down your frustrations and worries is a proven way to do this. Just write it all down for 10 minutes every day. Then close the page until next day. It seems silly, but it does work.
5 seconds: Squeeze and release his penis
Men's sexual response is in four phases; excitement, plateau, orgasm and refractory (the calm after the storm when he typically feels sleepy).
Many guys rush through the four phases fast it's over before they can experience it. Yet the plateau period - when he's almost, almost, almost coming - can be the most tantalising part of sex.
Here's a trick you can try: stimulate him until he's almost ready to pop. Now place your fingers and thumb just below the glans, or "helmet" part of the penis and squeeze very firmly for five seconds. Stay still, just squeeze (not so firmly that he cries out in pain, but more firmly than normal).
This squeeze technique forces blood back down the shaft and delays orgasm. Then you can stimulate him again until he's ready to come.. and do the squeeze trick again.
You can do this as many times as he can stand the suspense - it won't damage anything. And when he finally does come, it'll be all the more intense.
This story first appeared in The Singapore Women's Weekly.