When your relationship is at the ‘ever after’ stage of the fairy tale, maintaining passion can seem impossible. But with a bit of effort – and plenty of good humour – you can reignite the spark.
If you love your partner but aren’t necessarily feeling happy with the amount of sex you are having, you’re not alone.
Research has found that 54 per cent of Australian men and 42 per cent of Australian women in heterosexual relationships are unhappy with the frequency of sex in their relationship – mostly because they wanted more sex.
But with a bit of work, planning and creativity you can get your sex life back on track.
1. Plan a sex date
It might sound more like the way to approach your work schedule than a means of spicing up your sex life, but there are plenty of reasons to make regular appointments with your partner just to have sex, says sex therapist and relationship counsellor Désirée Spierings.
While many of us are happy to prioritise a ‘date’, which might include dinner and a movie, very few of us take the same approach when it comes to our sex lives, she says. And the sad truth is, by the time we get home from date night, we’re often too tired to reconnect with our partner physically.
Spierings says the point of a sex date is to set aside time where you and your partner can focus on being physical with one another.
“Whether sex actually happens is not the point, it is about being intimate together in a physical way, and making sure that happens,” Spierings says.
Even if you aren’t in the mood, she says you should still give it a go. (How often have you made the effort to go out for a date despite feeling tired, grumpy or stressed, only to have a great time once you get there?) And if you really want to go out for dinner, you can always head out afterwards.
2. Put a ban on sex
A ban on sex sounds like the last thing you would want to do if things are a little slow in the bedroom, but it can help a couple who are struggling with mismatched libidos.
“I recommend sometimes having a ban on actually intercourse altogether and to focus on everything else instead,” says Spierings.
If one partner has a low libido, they don’t have the spontaneous desire to have sex, which can sometimes mean they avoid all types of physical intimacy.
Instead of focusing on sex, Spierings recommends being physically intimate – having a bath or shower together, giving each other a massage, snuggling up on the sofa or taking a romantic stroll.
“Sometimes a partner may not feel any spontaneous desire, but may still be up for a lovely massage or a bath together… once they start to feel a little bit aroused and relaxed then the response desire kicks in and they don’t mind to continue and to participate in more intense physical activities.”
3. Build bridges
In a long-term relationship, life is often busy and when things are rushed, it can feel weird to go from doing the dishes to making out with your partner.
Spierings says it helps to implement bridges in your relationship. These are things you might do that set the mood and provide a sign that you’re moving from work or family time into couple time. Your ‘bridges’ might be to have a glass of wine or cup of tea together at the end of the day, take a walk after dinner or give each other a neck rub while watching television.
The idea is these ‘bridges’ can help create an opportunity for intimacy to happen.
4. Focus on why you WANT to have sex
Everyone has different reasons to have sex, Spierings says, and spontaneous sexual desire is just one.
“So if you don’t have it then that is not your reason to have sex with your partner, but there might be other good reasons that can act as your motivator.”
Reasons she’s come across include wanting to fall pregnant, feeling alive and happy after the experience, feeling closer to your partner afterwards, and even enjoying the health benefits of a healthy sex life.
As well as understanding why you might want to have sex, it’s also important to consider what it means for your partner and your relationship to have sex.
“Again you should WANT TO make your partner happy and that should not feel like a MUST DO.”
5. Have fun
Sex can be intimate or erotic, but don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. If it is neither of these, remember it can always be playful.
And think about what worked during your honeymoon phase that you haven’t done for a while.
But there is always room for something new: a new position, location, outfit or a striptease. Be creative!
6. Love yourself
It’s hardly rocket science, but if you don’t feel good about yourself in terms of your physical and mental health, then you probably won’t feel good about yourself sexually.
Spierings says you’re more likely to feel sexy if you pay attention to your general wellbeing, as well your appearance.
“It’s important to pay some extra attention to what we look like so we can feel good about ourselves and less self-conscious and more confident when it comes to being intimate with someone.”
So this is another reason to watch your diet, be physically activity, get enough sleep and take care of your emotional health.