Why Keep a Diary?
People have been keeping diaries and journals for longer than pen and paper have existed. Egyptians believed that God could be contacted directly through the written word and that memories could be erased or deleted through the deletion of writing. People have believed in a marriage between writing and healing since Apollo was the god of both poetry and healing. And the Biblical David was soothed by the psalms of Saul. Sacred expressions of writing – both new and old - serve not only as a record of a person’s life and activities but also as an outlet for healing. Journaling can help a person get in touch with their deepest feelings, yearnings, and discomforts. Likewise, it can capture the joys and happier moments of a person’s life. Putting words to the page can also serve to organize the brain. Something as simple as writing a to-do list in a journal can open the brain for more clear thinking.
There are many types of diaries and journals, to include daily diaries, gratitude journals, dream diaries, food diaries, observance journals, travel logs, and memory journals. Journals and diaries also serve as a constant companion and confidant twenty-four hours a day.
If this is the case, why not use journaling on the topic of sex as to promote intimacy, attachment, and communication in couples? Journals would also have the impact of helping promote differentiation within couple dyads – another factor to help improve communication around sexual topics. If journals are a way to help a person define his or her struggles and most intimate desires, why not bring that into the bedroom – and to the sex therapy office - where couples can use journals and diaries as a way to become closer and spice things up?
Here is where the Red (Sex) Diaries come in to “play.” While most Americans are familiar with Zalman King’s 1990s “Red Shoe Diaries” erotic drama series, not many have thought about taking that title to heart and into the bedroom. When considering the benefits of incorporating journaling and diary keeping into therapeutic treatment, why not bring it to couples as an intervention that would help them share their wants, needs, and desires and get to know themselves a little better?
More and more therapists are now looking toward incorporating journaling into their treatments plans because of its obvious benefits. These therapists believe in some basic beliefs about the writing process. First, they believe that reading poems and stories and writing personal reactions to literary and other forms of stimuli affect emotions, cognitions, and behavior. They believe that guided discussions with others on readings and writing experiences enhance the processes of healing and growth. They also believe that we can modify our feelings, attitudes, and actions to attain healthier functioning.
Forms of Expression
Like snowflakes, no two people are the same. This makes it easy to understand why every person has a different way they are most comfortable expressing themselves. For some, sharing a story verbally is the easiest way to communicate. But for others, there is more freedom when the pen and written word come into play. For couples who best express themselves through writing, having a private journal which clients can choose to share or not to share with their therapist or one another is another tool to help a client express him or herself. For the client who says “I’m not good at saying things and do better with writing,” therapists might consider suggesting the client keep a regular journal of their thoughts, activities, and ponderings. This would work particularly well for a couple with trouble talking openly about sex and/or using sexual terms. Sometimes, people have trouble asking for what they want sexually or vocalizing fantasies out loud. A sex therapy journal might help partners to communicate their desires without actually having to vocalize them. And, journals are limitless when it comes to content and could include client artwork, poetry, and other forms of written expression.
A Spicy Side Effect
Most everyone likes a good story. And while writing is often seen as a solitary activity, the impact of writing in journals, diaries, and even in letter form can be vastly underestimated when these written expressions are shared. That is, a letter or journal sharing between partners can often have a lasting impact to both the writer and recipient. This sort of communication can ultimately change a couple. A spicy side effect for couples suffering from a lack of sexual desire toward one another may be that partners become aroused reading about one another’s fantasies and desires.
Studies have shown that both men and women respond to erotica. In a study conducted in 2011, it was concluded that couples who use erotica together see an increased openness and communication in their relationships and sexual experiences. For women, in particular, arousal often comes with material aimed at romance and emotional intimacy which is something a sex journal would intrinsically help provide to the couple when framed as an extended love letter.
An Extended Love Letter
For couples who stick to shared journaling, this gift they give to one another could ultimately be viewed as a passionate and love letter; something that could be brought back out when things get stale or the couple is looking for new ideas or experiences.
A shared journal experience can be viewed not only as an extended love letter, but also a gift of trust and self-definition. Studies have also shown that being more differentiated allows for more satisfactory sexual communication. A tool like a journal the couple can share to talk about their fantasies and their own needs as a sexual being would help in promoting differentiation because it helps them define themselves as sexual people. This would have the inevitable effect of helping them amplify a secure attachment; also important to sexual satisfaction. Simply put, a secure attachment style is paramount in sexual satisfaction.
Red (Sex) Prompts:
Congratulations on taking your first step toward more intimacy in your relationship. Here, in the Red (Sex) Diaries, there are no rules. Use these pages as a launching pad for self-reflection and discovery. Share what you chose to share and keep the rest private. It’s really up to you. The idea here is to open discussions and spark ideas that will bring new passion into your sex life.
Write about how you and your partner first met.
Journal about your first impressions of your mate. What attracted you to him/her?
List the first 20 words that come to mind when you hear the word “sexy”.
Write about a sexual experience you would like to have with your partner. Why would u enjoy?
Why do you enjoy being intimate with your partner?
List 10 things you enjoy about spending time with your partner.
In what ways is your partner a good lover?
What messages did your caregivers give you about sex as a child? Which would you like to take with you and which do you reject?
What props would you consider taking to bed with you and your partner?
Are there any sex toys you would like to incorporate into your sex life?
What is your most tame sexual fantasy?
What is your wildest sexual fantasy?
What movie star or entertainer do you find the sexiest and why?
What are the sexiest qualities you admire in a mate?
Recount the best sexual experience you ever had with your partner. Why was it so good?
What could be improved about your sex life?
When you think love, you think (fill in the blank).
What does romance mean to you?
What turns you on the most about your partner?
What is your favorite time of day or night to make love? Why?
List 10 words that come to mind when you think of a romantic evening with your partner.
What words do you associate with the word “satisfaction?”
In what ways do you trust your partner sexually?
How could you and your partner improve your sex life?
Is there something you and your partner used to do together that you don’t do anymore and miss? What is it? How could you start doing it again?
How important is love when it comes to sex?
Name the first 20 words that come to mind when you think of “relationship.”
What prevents you and your partner from having the best sex possible?
How has sex changed over time for you and your partner? What would you like to bring back? What would you like to leave in the past?
If you could give your partner a sexy name for the night, what would it be? Write about what that night would be like. Have you had nights like this before?
What is sexy about your bedroom? Are there ways you could set a more romantic atmosphere?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Erin Lee (author) from Somewhere over the rainbow ;-) on March 28, 2013:
I just finished a sex therapy class in grad school and the stats on how writing about intimacy and your desires can really improve things in the bedroom. ;-)
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 28, 2013:
Great idea! There is power in the written word. Why not put some of that power into your sex life? It might be all the therapy some need.