While you usually try to keep your sex life and work life pretty separate (except for that office holiday party hookup you're still trying to forget), compartmentalising your desk-side issues from your bedside time is often easier said than done. And that's true whether you're on track to becoming the boss lady or you and your partner just hit an economic rough patch. Here, we spoke with experts to find out how you can keep your work/sex balance in check.
The Problem: You Were Just Promoted
Not that getting promoted is actually a problem, but with your new gig you've got more responsibilities and less time. This kind of success deserves celebration, but it also calls for you to take a look at your priorities. As caretakers, women juggle so many things for themselves and for others, so when you have a long to-do list, sex might fall to the bottom (that is, if it even makes the list).
SYNC UP: Put your own oxygen mask on before your partner's. In other words, before you can even think about sex, do what you need to do to relax. Read a juicy book. Take a bath. Go for a scenic drive. Beyond self-care, ask your man to help. If you usually split kid duties equally, ask him to take on more of your share until you settle into your new role. And finally, create a calming place to come home to. "You're likely always going to have some amount of stress in your lives, so you need to build an environment that allows you to be sexual," says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and sexuality counsellor in New York City. In the bedroom, it's out with work papers, digital devices, and bedside photos of your kids, and in with scented candles, music, and erotic novels.
The Problem: He Just Lost His Job
Men's sexual performance and self-esteem are closely linked. "Our society teaches men to be performance-driven," says Megan Fleming, Ph.D., a New York City sex and relationships expert. "His ability to perform at his job and in bed are tied up in his identity." And that failure (at least in his eyes) is likely amplified if he's the sole provider. He won't be having as many sexual thoughts, and his levels of cortisol, known as the "stress hormone," are higher, which can cause blood vessels to constrict and make it difficult to achieve an erection.
SYNC UP: "The foundation of arousal is relaxation," says Fleming, so find ways to help release some of that tension, like dancing, taking a yoga class together, or going for a run. And in the bedroom, keep the intimacy humming without the expectation of sex to avoid making him feel pressured to perform. Give him a sensual massage or even just a long hug (at least 20 seconds), suggests Fleming—that kind of physical contact can release oxytocin, a.k.a. the cuddle hormone, which will boost your bond.
This article originally appeared on Womenshealthmag.com.