While sexual intimacy only takes up about 10 percent of a relationship in terms of time and energy, the payoff for a good sex life is tenfold, both for yourself and your relationship. But for many, the quality of their sex life is the first thing that starts to wan once they have settled in for a long haul. Maybe this is because the novelty has worn off; maybe this is because you’ve run out of new positions and ideas; maybe this is because it gets easy to take for granted that your mate will be there tomorrow if you have more energy or desire then. Regardless, it takes a personal and relational commitment to keep your sex life alive and healthy. So if you’ve been feeling a lack of luster in your sex life, here are some things to consider.
First, having a healthy and satisfying sex life enhances you in many ways. It relieves stress, promotes emotional and psychological well-being, releases lots of feel good hormones, supports physical health, and creates more intimacy and love within a committed relationship. Can’t beat that.
Second, there is no one right way to define a healthy and satisfying sexual relationship. You and your partner are the ones who will need to define that for yourselves. Conflict occurs in relationships when two people have different and often opposing needs and ideas. The challenge is for you and your partner to sit down with each other and find a definition that works toward nourishing and satisfying the needs of your relationship. If you approach the conflict from this perspective you will avoid settling into a power struggle of whose individual needs get met when and how. Finding a rhythm that works for the needs of the relationship will most likely end up satisfying both partners. And remember, your and your relationship’s needs will shift throughout a lifetime.
Third, it is not your partner’s responsibility to make you feel sexy. It is yours. Feeling sexy and gaining the benefits from a vital sex life starts with you. Do what you need to do to feel sexy. Take responsibility for your own sexual health. Take the initiative to spice things up. Be the seducer if you are typically not; allow yourself to be seduced if you typically don’t. Taking responsibility for your sexual health requires you to take responsibility for your self-care—physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.
Fourth, it is also your responsibility to make your partner feel sexy. That will look different for different people. Find out what your partner likes; let him know he still turns you on; let her know she’s still lights up the room. Understand that making your partner feel sexy begins outside of the bedroom; it starts with how you treat each other day in and day out. It comes out of the daily care and attention you provide for each other.
Fifth, make sex a priority. The benefits are worth it. It helps dissolve pettiness and pickiness. The dinner dishes left in the sink won’t bother you as much; the clothes left on the floor will go unnoticed and the fact that your spouse forgot to walk the dog once again, may not turn out to be a big deal. Instead you may find yourself doing the dishes for your spouse or walking the dog yourself without resentment. You may even find yourself wanting to do that something special for your mate as a surprise. You may find you have some extra energy, a glow about you, and a feeling of being in love once again.
Sixth, remember that life has its ups and downs and so will your sex life. Children will be born, family deaths will ensue, illnesses will occur. Know that if life is getting in the way today, this will pass. There will come a time when you can get your sexy back. So be patient and understanding with yourself and your partner when these times come around. Go back to working as a team, focusing on how best to meet the relationship’s needs given what stressors and circumstances are working on the relationship at the moment. Or better yet, incorporate some intimacy as a means to help support each other as you move through the transition.
Last, physical intimacy does not need to be fireworks every time. Holding each other, kissing, or even talking can provide the same benefits as passionate and hot sex. True intimacy includes the physical, but is not limited by it. Explore new ways to express and deepen your intimacy. Go beyond the sexual experience and you just may find a whole new world waiting for you. And remember to have fun!
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com
Hi Julie, I was just wondering if i can ask this question.Ive read and heard a lot advice for when couples get into trouble waters, to reflect on the memories of the first years,when they were madly in love in the beginning, well what if the relationship has been rocky from the start and there is no such years but only about a month of good beginning and only a sprinkle of stressfree memories over 12 years.I try to remember these small good times but i feel the bad memories being that i felt so traumatic at the time,hugely overweighs them, even the birth of our first child was tainted by me worrying about my partner, over the worrying start of having our child during an emergency ceasarian.I am just wondering if a couple can start a clean slate after so many years of neither feeling they’re getting their needs met, and start a new love story or will there be too much suspician and carry over of bad feeling memories.
This is an excellent question. I first want to say is that there is always the chance that a couple can learn from their mistakes, make a commitment to doing things differently, and create a more loving and satisfying relationship. However, if your marriage has been immersed in stress and pain for twelve years, there is a lot of learning and healing that needs to take place. The question is whether you and your partner can do the work that it will take. There are reasons why this relationship has been so rocky, even traumatic. It will require both of you to take full responsibility for your part in the destructive dynamics (even if your part is staying in the relationship), see what lies at the core, and do the work to heal and transform your respective wounds. I suggest you get some help with this. It sounds like there are patterns in place that will be difficult to break and change on your own. I think it would be very helpful to read The Pathway to Love and The Pathway to Love Workbook and Guide. It will be a good start. Feel free to reach out if you want to schedule any coaching or consultation services.