Quarantine is putting us through it. We’re competing against heightened emotions, mental fatigue, our homes feeling like they’re closing in, and more time than ever. Keeping intimacy a priority in the midst of it all is a challenge. And while there’s a myth going around that there will be a baby boom in nine months because of all the quarantine sex, that’s not the reality. Increased anxiety and stress are discouraging people from reproducing. It’s not difficult to imagine how these factors affect intimacy too.
In my quest for tips and tricks that encourage intimacy—not just sex—at the forefront of our minds during quarantine, I spoke with Candace Smith, a blogger, influencer, and self-professed “boy mom.” She is the creator of The Suchy Much, a brand that advocates for women, mothers, sexuality, and healthy marriages. Married to her soul mate for over five years, in February, she created the 28-Day Intimacy Challenge on her Instagram to strengthen the bridge between body, soul, and mind with your partner.
The Jump Off
DW: The Suchy Much just celebrated its seventh birthday. Congratulations! How do you feel?
Candace: I’m super excited! With all the quarantine stuff, it feels a little weird. Jamie actually remembered [the birthday]…so we ordered…dim sum that night and…celebrated.
DW: How are you and Jamie coping with the burden of quarantine right now?
Candace: We have our moments because I think we both miss normalcy. Most days we have a pretty good flow. Jamie and I check in with each other like, “How are you doing today?” If he says, “I’m fine,” and he doesn’t look [fine], I’m like, “I don’t think you are. Let’s talk about that.” It’s all about being very aware of where we are in those moments. Like, what do we need? What do I need? What do you need?
DW: You and Jamie are a very loving, affectionate, and intimate couple. How has quarantining challenged intimacy, especially with the boys around all of the time now?
Candace: We’re already so intentional about creating the space to be intimate. And not just sex but with conversations and touch and being flirty—the type of stuff that keeps up that link of togetherness. …So when [all of] this happened, [we didn’t] all of a sudden…need to figure out how to connect… It was just, “Okay let’s be aware of what type of connection we need now.” So if we need a date night, then [we ask] how can we create a date night, even though we can’t go anywhere? If we need introvert time, and the boys are down, how can we create introvert time for each other? It’s about how…we connect or what type of [engagement] we need. It hasn’t been difficult. My mom is here, and my sister is here. And if the boys are distracted outside with them then we go in the closet for a quickie.
DW: I was going to ask about that! I don’t know if you’ve seen Watchmen on HBO but there’s a scene where Regina King’s [character] and Yahya [Abdul-Mateen II’s character] have sex in a closet. And I was like, “Well, wait a minute! Why didn’t I think of that?” On that note, what are some things that couples can do to keep it adventurous, keep it from being mundane…? [Since] we can’t go anywhere!
Candace: One thing that I’ve been working on is making our bedroom a peaceful place and kind of sexy. We’ve installed these lights on the wall for mood lighting. They’re pretty and go with our décor. And I keep [the bedroom] clean and make it a space to where it’s nice. There’s sunlight coming in and, for me, it creates an atmosphere to be transparent with each other and vulnerable.
But for others, I would say think outside the box…If your spouse works odd hours like mine, put on some cute pajamas. Before you go to bed say, “Hey, I’m going to bed but I’m not wearing any underwear. So when you come to bed, wake me up.” There’s anticipation there for them. They might finish their work a little faster!
It’s the small things you can do now that add up. Share ice cream together. Do dinner and just put it on one plate and share. We have a tent in our living room and when the boys are down, we put on a movie and play together. We eat together from the same plate and have a Lady and the Tramp moment. You have to be creative right now because you can’t go to your favorite coffee shops or your favorite outdoor bars…Create them on your own
DW: Use toys. Make a list of things to pique your interest or curiosity. Go through the list. See what you like, what you don’t like…
Candace: Yes. That was part of the intimacy challenge that The Suchy Much recently did. There are some things in there like exploring each other. Get a toy together. Be squeamish and weird and giggly and pick something out that y’all could try. If you have done it before, then you can get or do whatever advanced version of that is. [Jamie and I] were talking to another guy that’s married the other day. He asked us, “How do I keep the [fire] going?” And we said to read the Song of Solomon together. It’s so poetic and so sweetly written and also hilarious…Like [talking] about you [going] to…the peak of the mountain! You gotta fuse cheesiness and laughter and joy and sensuality all together. It’s something that can be used to put ourselves back on the same page.
Talk to Me
DW: There’s so much that we’re trying to deal with and process. We’re just trying to figure out how to manage all these emotions. Just like you’re saying, reconnecting and talking to your partner’s a good way of pulling back the veil and saying, “This is just too much and this isn’t.”
Candace: Right. This year started off really bananas. I straight up just [told] my husband, “Babe, I need some grief sex.” With the quarantine and then losing my grandma and having a bunch of family stuff happening…Sometimes when couples are having a hard time connecting, it’s possible that your heart is grieving something. It could be an expectation that’s not met. It could be grieving the fact that you aren’t the perfect person that you see in your head. It could be [mourning]…that you’re locked in the house. There are so many different things that can weigh our hearts down and there are so many different levels to grief. It’s so much about being vulnerable and being open to how you’re feeling and figuring out what you need. [Jamie and I] are both in communication with each other. And he’ll do the same thing.
DW: It’s like a mutual pursuit of each other.
Candace: Yes, yes. I love that—making a point to please each other. Like if you know if you didn’t climax…—I don’t some days and I’m okay with not because I still enjoyed it. But some days I’m like, “Hey, could you fix it?” It’s communication. I’ve never believed in faking it. How’s that going to form growth and help you learn each other’s bodies? If you’re pretending like that thing pleases you, and it doesn’t, please don’t do that. Because then they’ll do it again.
DW: And then you’re stuck in that cycle.
Candace: Exactly. It’s time for more communication. Talk in the midst of it. Could you do this? Could you move here? Could you do this angle? Could you put your hand here? Don’t be silent. Be vocal on every aspect. That doesn’t mean you have to be loud because we have kids, and they’re in the next room. You don’t want them to wake up in the middle of it!
Now, mind you, I know there are situations right now where honestly, the spouse just can’t be home. If they’re on the front lines. I know that’s not necessarily possible for everyone.
DW: I think that’s a big deal too. Because some people are living in their garage or a spare bedroom or staying somewhere else. How would they be able to create intimacy then? There’s texting and sexy selfies.
Candace: You kind of have to treat it as a long-distance relationship. Now you have a long-distance marriage. Like you said, order some toys from Amazon, do a FaceTime to where maybe you’re pleasing yourselves with each other. Technology can be awful, and it’s still a blessing. Use it to your benefit to where you can FaceTime each other or talk on the phone and have sexy talk time. Whatever your thing is, you can still make it to where it’s intimate. If you feel safe enough to send pictures or whatever then do that, but be sure. I can’t quite do that. My husband’s phone is connected to too many devices. I don’t want to send a raunchy text to my husband and have it pop up in the middle of a Zoom call!
DW: What’s one thing we should remember [about] loving…each other while sheltering in place?
You’re a team. That’s something we say a lot in our household. We’re a team. We’re together. We’re for each other regardless. We’re one. We try to have each other’s best interests in mind. Don’t make your spouse into the enemy, especially now. Y’all love each other. Don’t forget that.
Kindling intimacy – more titillating ideas for quarantine and beyond:
- Create space to speak openly and check in with each other to make sure work responsibilities aren’t occupying too much mental and emotional space.
- Watch rom-coms and test the antics from the movie—within reason, of course.
- Run a bubble bath and soak together.
- Cook a meal by candlelight.
- Do “painting with a twist” at home.
- If your love takes vitamins, feed your partner their vitamins with a kiss. Hold it in your lips and sensually pass it to them with a kiss.
- Wear lingerie underneath a T-shirt and shorts that you wear during the day. When your children go to sleep or work is over, take off your clothes and you’re ready to go.
- Don a really cute bra from time to time (or skip it altogether) and combine it with a low-cut shirt that will catch your partner’s eye.
- Encourage your partner to dress in any outfits you love for them to wear too.
- Let your partner pick out your underwear and send them sexy selfies.
- Do something fun outside of the routine, like portraying their celeb crush.