The other day I was reading about two kinds of memory – procedural and declarative. Declarative is facts we can recall – like our phone number, math concepts, and how to spell (at least some of us remember how to spell, for those like me God made spell check ;-) ). Procedural memory is things we have to learn by doing, like riding a bike. Once we have a procedural memory down it becomes automatic. Repeating an act based on procedural memory strengthens the memory, eventually making it deeply ingrained and something over which we no longer exercise conscious control. (For an interesting take on how this causes us to react to people based on our past, Why Is It So Hard to Be Good?)
Applying this to sex: Is what you do in bed with your wife largely a function of procedural memory? Is it much like riding a bike – you’ve learned the basics, and how to handle bumps in the road and obstacles in the street without having to really think? It’s human nature to fall into patterns like this, and most of the time it helps us a great deal. It’s nice to be able to walk or ride a bike without conscious thought, allowing us to also talk, look at the world around us, and so on. But sex is not something to do mindlessly – we should focus on sex! When you focus on sex you can enjoy it more, and when you focus on your wife you can make it better for her.
The difficulty is breaking out of the procedural memory trap. It takes real effort, and even then you’ll slip. When it starts to feel good it’s easy to fall into habit. Habit can give you good sex, but it won’t give you great sex.
You can help yourself break out of sexual habits by doing things differently. Have sex at a different time – even just an hour different. Have sex laying on the bed with your head where your feet usually go. Change the lighting. Add or remove clothing. Set a timer and change positions, or take a 30 second break when the timer goes off. Do anything to mix it up, and your brain won’t go to it’s patterns as easily.