When you started your relationship you might have thought that passionate sex would continue forever.
Instead, the stress of work, late nights and new responsibilities, or kids, with schooling troubles and sleepless nights, have got in the way.
Sex is a rather simple act.
A penis erects and vagina lubricates, and one is placed inside of the other. Cue deep moans, orgasm, and ecstasy.
Yet despite its pleasure and role in connecting two human beings, couples will often go through periods of abstinence.
For stretches of time, one or both partners find the idea of intimacy uncomfortable.
When this happens, couples tend to feel shame and feel like their relationship is failing.
Yet there is no ‘gold standard’ to aspire to.
Glossy magazines may sell you the idea that frequent sex is the only road to relationship happiness, but there are plenty of couples in content relationships who seldom, or never, have sex.
Still, if you or your partner are dissatisfied with the current status quo, it’s worth exploring how you can improve your sex life.
Remaining with the discontent isn’t an option. Doing so will only lead to relationship failure.
Improving your sex life will rekindle your romance and passion for each other.
When you have romance and passion, you’ve trust.
And trust is one of the pillars of a healthy relationship.
The following 7 steps will help you get there.
Step 1) Get Dirty
The most important part of cultivating a healthy sex life is talking about a healthy sex life.
91% of couples who don’t talk about sex with one another are unhappy with their sex life.
Talking about sex is important!
Think about what your conversation about sex are like.
Are they vague and indirect, leaving issues unresolved?
Do you rush to finish the discussion, hoping your partner will understand your desires without you having to say much?
The bottom line is this: the less direct you are, the less likely you are to get what you want.
Neither of you are likely to get your sexual desires met if you’re uncomfortable discussing them in the first place.
Open and honest communication about sex looks like this:
“Last night when you touched my ____ and gave it all of your attention, I felt very sexy. I loved it.”
Or like this:
“Making love in the morning is the best part of waking up!”
Try to make your sex talk casual, without demands or tension. Be as explicit as you can.
If you feel uncomfortable, start by talking about your feelings about sex, such as the messages you received growing up.
Remember, talking about sex is a powerful way to enhance your feelings of safety with each other.
2) Create Maps
There is a remarkable difference in the way men and women see sex.
Most women desire sex when they feel emotionally close, whereas men use sex to become emotionally close.
That means you can’t just assume that what works for you will work for your partner.
You need to gather information on your partner’s sexual needs and draw up a sexual love map.
To create this map, ask your partner questions about what has felt good in the past and ask them what they’d like in the future.
Questions such as:
What made you feel ready for touch and sensuality?
What made you feel connected to me?
What made you in touch with your body?
What makes sex more like lovemaking to you?
What are good fantasies and thoughts for you?
What would be a good sex ritual?
One you’ve used questions like these to build up your sex map, don’t forget to keep it updated.
This requires talking about your recent sex experiences from time to time. Doing so keeps you attuned to each other’s needs. It helps you weed out any misunderstandings and continue the on-going negotiations you need to keep you both feeling loved and satisfied.
Step 3) Be Positive
The key to talking about sex is not to criticise.
If you criticise, the conversation will end faster than any lovemaking you attempt.
Try turning negatives into positives:
Saying, “You never touch my body,” is going to make your partner touch you less.
Instead try, “Kissing last weekend in the laundry room was sexy. I want more of that, I felt so good!”
Focus on what you like rather than what you don’t like.
Saying, “I hate it when you touch me there,” means your partner is less likely to touch you anywhere.
Try, “It feels so amazing when you touch me here.”
Many of us feel embarrassed at times about our bodies or our performance. Adding judgement into the mix makes things worse.
Instead, you need to make your partner feel safe.
Amazing sex requires both partners to figure out what feels good and safe and what doesn’t.
Learning to communicate sexual needs, desires, and frustrations in a way that lets each of you feel safe will enhance the experience for both of you.
Remember to focus on the positives. Focus on what you want and enjoy, rather than on what you don’t want or don’t enjoy.
Make your partner feel loved and valued.
Step 4) Be a Safe Haven
Making accommodations to each other’s longings is essential.
One common problem couple’s experience is different levels of desire. In heterosexual relationships, it’s typically men who desire sex more frequently than women.
An example is Simon who wanted sex three times per week, and Stacey who only wanted it once per week. Simon felt rejected and frustrated by this. He went and bought books and sex toys to turn Stacey on.
This pressure backfired, Simon’s frustration grew, and Stacey’s desire disappeared completely.
To rekindle Stacey’s passion, they both had to be accommodating. Simon needed to realise that sex wasn’t going to happen any time soon and pressure would make the situation worse.
Stacey needed to recognise Simon’s desire and make efforts to rekindle their intimacy.
I suggested that Stacey, as the partner with the least desire, oversee the couple’s sensual enjoyment. Since Stacey relaxed and felt pleasure from massages, she created massage nights, which included no sex, but lots of touching and holding. Eventually Stacey’s desire was back, and the couple started having sex about twice a week.
Good sex starts with understanding your partner’s needs and accommodating to them as best you can.
Step 5) Get Over Your Shame
A lot of people feel sexual shame.
It can come from many places: family, friends, past partners, or even society. Much of our culture treats sexuality as something shameful, and because of this, it’s hard to avoid sexual shame.
Embarrassment about sexual urges or anxiety over performance makes it threatening to trust your partner with your intimate secrets. Yet sexual shame is crippling, both for you and for your partner.
Your desires are a natural part of you and nothing to be ashamed of.
You’ve sexual desires. They are valid, and you’ve every right to pursue and satisfy them (if you don’t hurt anyone in the process). And your partner needs to know and understand what they are.
When a relationship works well, it’s because both partners respect the sexual nature of each other.
Make sure you set aside a time to talk about your sexual desires with your partner. Maybe it’s after sex. Maybe it’s a pre-planned conversation with a glass of wine. You pick the time.
Openly discussing your desires and what you want to experience in your sex life with your partner will greatly improve your relationship and your sexual health.
Step 6) Don’t Take it Personally
When it comes to sex, the ways you feel accepted and rejected differ from person to person.
By sharing how you experience love and rejection, you’ll deepen your understanding of each other.
Any honest conversation you can have about sex will significantly improve your relationship inside and outside the bedroom.
I know this sounds crazy (because sex includes you), but a large part of what turns your partner on or off isn’t about you.
Sex can be blocked by stress, feelings of shame, and other reasons nothing to do with you. Just because your partner doesn’t want to get frisky doesn’t mean they don’t find you attractive. Nor does it mean your lovemaking skill is lacklustre.
Don’t take rejection personally.
Try to have the same attitude a professional cook has about preparing food. A chef isn’t insulted if a customer isn’t in the mood for polenta tonight or has an aversion to olives.
Sexual needs are idiosyncratic and entrenched, the goal of lovemaking is to explore what works for each of you.
It isn’t a criticism of your attractiveness, sexual virality, lovemaking skills, or innermost being if your partner likes it harder, softer, more or less kinky, with or without lingerie or dirty talk.
Step 7) Make Time for Some Intimacy
Despite our societies narrative, easy, uninhibited, and tension-free sex isn’t easy to achieve.
The chances of you both being in the mood at the exact same time is close to zero.
Spontaneity is a fantasy.
Nothing is going to just happen.
You must make it happen.
That’s why many couples plan sex.
I’m don’t mean making sex a to-do list item or a chore that you tick off when done.
I’m recommending that you create an erotic space and time for you and your partner to connect.
What happens in the space is up to you, but the space is deliberately designed to bring the erotic emotions back into your relationship.
It gives you the space to seduce your partner, to treat them like you treated them within the first two years. Wild, free… but now it’s in a planned time.
Ironically, planning creates this sexual anticipation. It builds a romantic plot. It causes both you and your partner to long and yearn for the coming meeting.
Planned sex allows both of you to slip out of the chains of reality and allow sex to be more than just the 15 minutes before bed.
Add that Sparkle Back to Your Sex Life
Sex itself is quite simple.
Maintaining the passion and intimacy in your relationship is much more difficult.
If one or both of you are dissatisfied with the current status quo, you need to rekindle the romance and passion in your relationship.
Dealing with your shame about sex, creating a sexual love map of your partner, and openly expressing your desires are key steps to building your intimacy back.
Forget about the myth of spontaneity and schedule time for intimacy. Allow the partner with the least desire to plan and take control of these meetings.
And don’t forget that couples with healthy sex talk have healthy sex.
If you follow the steps in this post your intimacy and romance is bound to return. Your relationship will be stronger and the sex more fulling.
You’ll learn a lot about your partner, strengthening your union both in and out of the bedroom.
This strengthened unity and increased passion will last no matter what stress life stresses you experience.