The pattern is all too familiar: in the early days you can’t keep your hands off each other, but as the years go by you find yourselves having sex once a week, then once a month, and then, well, who can remember the last time?
Good sex keeps relationships strong in the long term, but how do you keep sex exciting over the years or decades? It’s a question that challenges many a loving couple.
Esther Perel, a US couples therapist and author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic (HarperCollins), talks about the difficulty of reconciling two fundamental and often contradictory human needs. On the one hand, there is our desire for safety, dependability and permanence, on the other, we have a strong need for novelty, adventure and surprise. In a long-term relationship, we want all of these things, usually from one person. Balancing these desires is the ultimate challenge.
Here are four pieces of advice that will help:
1. Love your body
When you feel sexy, you act sexy. Poor body image is undoubtedly a passion-killer. Yes, you might not be as slim and toned at 45 as you were when you met your partner at 25, but you can still pamper, strengthen and care for your body. Staying fit and healthy also means strong muscles and healthy nerves and blood vessels, all of which , contribute to good sex.
2. Talk about it
If you don’t say what you want, you don’t get what you want. And if sex is unfulfilling, you’ll be less and less keen to do it. Perhaps the best way to improve your sex life is to improve your communication with your partner.
What’s tricky, says Sandra Brownrigg, a psychologist who specialises in couples counselling at the Sandton Psychology Centre in Johannesburg, is that talking about sex is difficult for many of us. “You might feel inadequate in your own sexuality, or fearful of hurting the other person. You might just be embarrassed. People often worry that they are strange or that what they want is weird, but I’ve spoken to so many people about their sex lives, and I can tell you that people like different things.”
Focus your talk on yourself and what you enjoy, for example, “I love you and would like to have more regular sex with you,” or “It feels really great when you…” And avoid criticising your partner’s sexual performance with expressions such as “You never…”
3. Have fun!
The best thing you can do to boost your sex life is to try and revisit the spontaneity and playfulness of a new relationship. We get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to have fun. Sex doesn’t start with the act of sex, it starts way before – with a loving SMS, a lingering touch when you pass each other, or an invitation to an evening of sexy play.
4. Sex doesn’t just happen in the bedroom
If one partner is feeling resentful, over-burdened and unappreciated, it’s going to affect sexual desire. However, if both partners put effort into the relationship and practise kindness, appreciation and good connection, it will pay dividends when it comes to great sex.
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