As a Sexuality Educator that works with Adults I often get asked how couples can increase intimacy in their relationship. The resource I use more frequently than any other is the “3 Minute Game” from Betty Martin.
Have you heard of Sensate Focus? It is a classic tool in the field of sexology. Sensate Focus was first developed by Masters & Johnson in the 1960s. Masters & Johnson were pioneers in the field of Sexology and sex positivity.
Sensate focus is a technique used to improve intimacy and communication between partners around sex, reduce sexual performance anxiety, and shift away from ingrained, goal-oriented sexual patterns that may not be serving a couple. It is common for couples to get stuck in habitual interactions relating to intercourse. Couples tend to have a hyper focus on achieving orgasm for both partners and loose track of the larger potential in a pleasure experience.
The problem with Sensate Focus in its pure form is that sessions are long, couples are required to use the technique for hour long sessions. The reality is that life is busy and very few people I have worked with have time to commit to this sort of practice. I have even had one person I worked with say “it was fun to begin with but by week three it felt like a chore and neither of us felt like sex.” Nothing kills libido or desire like making intimacy a chore! The 3 Minute Game is a time friendly derivative of Sensate focus.
The 3 Minute Game asks for a manageable commitment: 4 rounds of 3 minutes each for a grand total of 12 minutes. 12 minutes is not hard to commit to before bed. 12 minutes is not daunting and people actually get the benefit from taking time to connect.
Here is a quick overview:
- You touch your partner how they want to be touched for 3 minutes (head scratching, skin stroking, light massage, still pressure etc).
- Then you let them touch you for 3 minutes how THEY want to touch you (this is what THEY want to experience by touching you, while you communicate your boundaries clearly).
- Then you switch and do both rounds with YOU as the partner making requests.
- Touch is non-genital and non-sexual, but can certainly be sensual.
- Throughout this process, as giver or the receiver, you communicate what you want more of or less of, or how you would like to be touched or not, or any boundaries that you may have.
The 3 Minute Game helps couples learn how to communicate not only their boundaries but also their desires in a non-threatening, non-sexual context. Mindfulness is often a useful outcome of the 3 Minute Game, it allows couples to create limbic resonance between them. This is when the limbic part of our brain connects to our partner’s through eye contact, physical touch, laughter and breath, releasing dopamine, norepinephrine and oxytocin, all the feel good hormones. The duration of the exercise is brief because the expectation is that you are both able to remain aware of your body, your breath, and your subtle reactions to touch as well as your partner’s body, breath, and subtle reactions to touch. Communication, both verbal and nonverbal, is constantly occurring throughout the process.
If you prefer to go it alone you can watch this helpful video, or access Betty Martin’s free 3 Minute Game booklet.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide and overview of the subject matter. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions. Seek advice specific to your situation from your medical professional or mental health professional. Safe - Sane - Consensual