Needing to Keep the Fires of a Relationship Hot? Start with an “Appetizer” that Sets the Mood

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Dr. Eric FitzMedrud is a Sofia University Alumni and holds a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology from Sofia U. The following self-description and blog have been re-posted from his website.

I grew up in Minneapolis where the inner city diversities around me ignited my passion for diversity issues. After High School I lived in India for a year while on the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program. I went to college in Colorado where I met my wife. I moved to the Bay Area in 2002 to begin my Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology. My family and I are now settled in this area for good.

I became a licensed psychologist (PSY23669) through a circuitous route. I began with a strong interest in spirituality and human development during my undergraduate major in Religious Studies. I considered a more academic career but I realized that what I really felt called to do was work with people one-on-one. I took some prerequisite courses for a year at Loyola University in Chicago and then began my Ph.D. in 2002. I earned my Clinical Psychology Ph.D. in 2008.

I love my job. I am honored that I get to do work that I enjoy, that is meaningful, and which helps others live meaningful, connected lives. Below you will find a brief list of different positions that I have held during my career and little further down, a brief description of my therapeutic style.

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This is a little tool that I created to help couples stuck in a sexual rut. Follow these instructions so you can create your sex menu while you read along.

Take regular sheet of paper, hold it with the long edge toward the bottom (landscape style). Fold it to make three columns of approximately equal width.

At the top of the first column write the header “Appetizer”. At the top of the second column write the header, “Entrée”. At the top of the third header write the header “Dessert”.


Appetizers are anything that helps set a mood for sex. This could be as elaborate as a day at the beach together or as simple as a little make-out session in the living room. It could be as explicitly sexual as trading erotic massages to as non-sexual yet mood setting as cleaning and vacuuming the living room floor with your partner.

This foreplay might include several context setting acts followed by increasingly erotic and sensual acts. If the people making the menu so desire it you could break this down into different sections and in keeping with the menu idea, you could label sections for soups, salads, or amuse bouches.

The important thing is that appetizers help both increase the likelihood of readiness to move to the main course. [Keep in mind folks: No one owes you sex just because you put effort into creating a mood for it]


The entrée is the main sexual event. This could be as kinky and creative as role play or as vanilla as the missionary position. It could be as directive as naming the sexual position(s) you’ll try to as open-ended as, “I give you an orgasm while you just enjoy”. The focus of the entrée is the generation of sexual pleasure but need not include orgasms. Unlike a calorie laden dinner, there’s no reason to limit yourself to only one entrée if you have the stamina for it.


The dessert is the aftercare or after-play. This helps both enjoy the post-sexual afterglow. This could include things like taking a shower together, eating actual food, or cuddling. Just make sure that the dessert course helps you enjoy your partner even more and cements this positive interaction into your memory.

Placing an Order

One way of using this tool is to have the couple complete the menu and on any given day to decide which items from the three main sections of the menu they would like to partake. In my experience, though, if they could do that, they wouldn’t have needed the menu in the first place.

I give this tool to couples when there is one person wanting the other to initiate, include more variety in their sexual repertoire, or use more foreplay. This helps broaden the couples’ repertoire and in my experience helps couples increase sexual satisfaction.

I suggest that the person with the high motivation for variety or broadening the repertoire create the menu. This person usually has more than enough ideas. My common minimum suggestion is 5 entries in each section.

Once the menu is completed, I suggest the author transfer it to the partner who has been asked to be a little more creative and spontaneous. To them I say, “You now have an easy way to improve your sexual advances. Just take one item from each of the three categories and initiate that process with your partner. Make a note of which combination you used and don’t use any of those entries again until you have sampled each menu item in that section at least once.

If a couple follows these directions they’ll have 125 sexual encounters before they repeat the same foreplay, sex, and after-glow savoring combination. Now that’s variety!


About The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University

Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings.  The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.

Learn more about our programs.

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