The Surprising Time Your Sex Life Will Regain That Spark

10 sex tips to reignite your long-term relationship

The Surprising Time Your Sex Life Will Regain That Spark

When your relationship has reached the 'ever after' stage of your once inseparable, giddy, can't-live-without-you love, maintaining the passion can seem impossible.

Research has found 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're wanting more.

If you're feeling unsatisfied with the amount of sex you're having, here's what the experts recommend.

Schedule a sex date

It might sound more the way to approach your job 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, according to sex therapist and relationship counsellor Désirée Spierings.

“Whether sex actually happens is not the point, it is about being intimate together in a physical way, and making sure that happens,” she says.

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. And the sad truth is, by the time we get home from a date night, we're often too tired to reconnect with our partner physically.

Ms Spierings says the point of a sex date is to set aside time where you and your partner can focus on being physical with each other.

It's not all about intercourse

Sex doesn't have to be the be all and end all, and focusing on other kinds of physical intimacy can help couples who are struggling with mismatched libidos.

“I recommend sometimes having a ban on actual intercourse altogether and to focus on everything else instead,” Ms Spierings says.

Having a bath or shower together, giving each other a massage or snuggling up on the couch can make you feel closer and more connected.

“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, the response desire kicks in and they don't mind continuing and participating in more intense physical activities,” Ms Spierings says.

Set the mood

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.

Ms Spierings said it's important to ease the transition from daily life to couple time by 'building bridges' and creating an opportunity for intimacy to happen.

This could include having a glass of wine or a cup of tea together at the end of the day, taking a walk after dinner or giving each other a neck rub while watching television.

“You might not have been thinking about sex, but now that you're getting a foot rub and being told that you look gorgeous, you might think, it could be a nice idea to get a bit sexy with my partner,” says clinical sexologist Tanya Koens.

Foreplay starts with 'how was your day?'

While the honeymoon phase is all about getting lost in the throes of passion, couples in long-term relationships need to actively work on building mutual feelings of desire.

“Foreplay starts with 'How was your day?' It's about connecting and getting a conversation going,” Ms Koens says.

“It's not necessarily about the tingling in the loins, it's the idea of it.”

The sexologist recommends exchanging playful or sensual text messages throughout the day.

“Saying nice things to each other on a regular basis keeps the simmer going, so that you're not starting from cold each time,” she says.

Switch off your devices

Ms Koens recommends couples go one night a week without technology.

“Eating dinner at the dinner table without any TV on is good. You can talk to each other and really connect. Have dinner, share a bottle of wine, and take a bath together,” she says.

While sex may or may not eventuate, it's important to spend time away from your screens checking emails and social media.

“It's one night a week that busy people make for themselves — there can be no other plans that interfere, no working late, no seeing family. Just: this is our night, and we're going to make sure we're connecting on that night,” Ms Koens says.

Understand why you want to have sex

Everyone has different reasons to have sex, and spontaneous sexual desire is just one.

“If you don't have spontaneous desire, 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,” Ms Spierings says.

This might include wanting to fall pregnant, feeling alive and happy after the experience, feeling closer to your partner, or simply enjoying the health benefits of an active sex life.

As well as understanding why you want to have sex, it's important to consider the thoughts and beliefs you have about sex — and what it means for you and your partner to have sex.

“For somebody who thinks sex means enduring love, having a partner that has sex for sport — that's going to be really interesting, negotiating the rate and the level at which you have sex,” Ms Koens says.

She said by understanding each other's motivations, you can negotiate the level of sex you and you partner would to have, and work towards that shared goal.

The six-second kiss

“Give each other a six-second kiss hello and a six-second kiss goodbye whenever you're coming and going,” Ms Koens says.

The simple practice of being more “present” when kissing your partner and kissing them for longer can boost feelings of connectedness, she says.

“You can achieve a lot in six seconds, and it doesn't have to be tonsil hockey. It could just be a lingering, lip-biting kiss. It could be grabbing the other person's bottom. It could be gently nibbling all the way up to their ear and back again.”

Communicate what you want

People often expect their partner to know exactly what they , when they it and how they it — without ever specifying, says Ms Koens.

“I've met people who have been waiting 25 years for their partner to work it out,” she says.

“I have a mantra: you don't get what you want by saying what you don't want. You need to say what it is that you might . And if you're not sure, then some experimenting together might be useful.”

According to the sexologist, vocalising what intimate experiences you enjoy and giving clear consent to your partner will amount to “sexy and safe sex”.

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.

“Trust that your partner is interested in you and your body. Censoring yourself or 'spectatoring' during sex is not useful. Enjoy what your body can do for you,” Ms Koens says.

Ms Spierings says you're more ly to feel sexy if you pay attention to your general wellbeing, as well your physical appearance.

“It's important to pay some extra attention to what we look so we can feel good about ourselves… and more confident when it comes to being intimate with someone,” she says.

Have fun

Sex can be intimate or erotic, but don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself. If it is neither of those things, remember it can always be playful.

“You can have things a suggestions box where each partner writes down things they want to try. If you get a tick from both partners, you put it in the suggestions box for times that you're feeling adventurous,” Ms Koens says.

There are plenty of things you can do to reignite your sex life, she added, and there's always room to try something new: a position, location, outfit or striptease.

And the best news of all? Your best sex is probably yet to come.

“You get to look forward to the best sex in your 40s, 50s and 60s because you know your body, and if you're in a long-term relationship, you know your partner,” Ms Koens says.

“You can stop worrying about looking good, and get on with the fact that your body can do damn amazing things — and make you feel very good.”


13 Ways To Keep the Thrill in Your Relationship

The Surprising Time Your Sex Life Will Regain That Spark

Source: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Whether you have been together for a few months or for decades, it is important to take steps to maintain some spark in your relationship. Some consistency can be nice in a relationship, but variation from the everyday routine is important to make things more fun. If you are in a monogamous relationship, that variety needs to come from within your partnership.

While it would be wonderful for you two to get away to some exotic island where you could spend days sipping coconut-flavored drinks on the beach, you also want to have some ways to electrify your relationship during your normal days.

Here are 13 great ways to put some spark back into your relationship that don’t take a lot of time or money but can be pretty powerful when you apply them.

1. Let’s get physical. Physical touch is key to a significant relationship. Sure, this includes sex, but also so much more. Give your partner a hug, rub his back, hold her hand, offer a massage. Oxytocin is released with physical touch, which has been shown to give lots of benefits, from feeling closer to being more generous and even having a stronger immune system.

2. Smile! You’re on camera. Pretend as if a camera is following you around every time you interact with your spouse (except when you are having X-rated time). How would you want to act if you knew you were being watched by others? Kind, thoughtful, easygoing? Now act that every time you are with your partner.

3. Say “I’m sorry.” We all mess up from time to time, say things we later regret, and do things we really shouldn’t.

And yet, so often we justify these actions, to ourselves and our partners. This can lead to resentment and defensiveness—not the ingredients for a happy relationship.

Next time you mess up, admit your mistake and move on. It will help your partner feel closer to you.

4. Looking good. Take steps to feel good about your body and the way you look. This is for you and your partner. For example, when women feel good about their body, research shows they are 19 percent more satisfied in their marriage.

Don’t worry; you don’t need to look a model. Just taking steps to feel good about yourself can be helpful to you. As one of my male clients said, “I don’t need her to be skinny; I just want to know that she puts in some effort to look good. It makes me feel important.

” I have had female clients express similar sentiments.

5. Listen to your partner. This tip is multifaceted. First, it is important to listen—really listen—to your partner. Ask him about his day and then actually be interested.

(If you find it tough to be interested, you might want to practice some empathy skills training.) One client who came in because he and his wife were considering a divorce lamented, “She never even asks me about my day.

She just complains about hers.” Your partner wants to be heard and understood.

Another reason to listen to your partner is because your partner is telling you what he or she wants from you.

What kinds of things does he say or do to tell you that he loves you? For example, when we were first married, I realized my husband often told me “I am so proud of you” when I was talking about my work.

At first, I just said, “thanks,” but then I realized that was what he needed to hear from me. And when I started telling him that I was proud of him, I could tell that he felt really loved from me.

6. Have outside support and interests. Your partner cannot meet your every need—best friend, stress-manager, mentor, conflict-resolutor, chick-flick watcher, sporting even spectator.

It is important that you have additional sources of support in your life. This will take pressure off your mate to be your everything. Even better, pursue your own interests. Sure, it’s great to do things together.

But you also want to respect your own areas of interest and follow those passions.

7. Do fun stuff. If going to Target is the most exotic thing you tend to do on weekends, it's time for a change. And you don’t need a ton of cash or vacation days. Choose to do something fun together.

This could be watching a funny movie, going for a hike, trying a new restaurant, learning something new by taking a class together, volunteering, or working out together.

Anything new and positive can help boost the happiness in your own relationship.

8. Focus on win-win. Stop keeping score of all that you do (and all that your partner doesn’t). Stop your need to be right.

People in happy relationships don’t view themselves as two different sides. There is no “I win, you lose” mentality. Instead, they focus on win-win.

That means being willing to compromise, admitting when you're wrong, and focusing on being happy instead of being right.

9. Reunited and it feels so good. When you and your partner reunite—at the end of a day, when one of you comes back from a trip, or even when you wake up—do something to show your love.

When your partner comes home, for example, stop what you are doing (within reason) and devote just a few seconds to being completely present with her. Give her a hug or kiss, look her in the eyes, and ask her how she is.

Put down your phone, pause the TV, turn down the stove—do whatever you need to focus even just a short amount of time on your partner. You both will feel much more connected.

10. Be respectful. John Gottman is a pioneer on research about the longevity of marriages. In fact, in a longitudinal study, he was able to predict with 93 percent accuracy which couples would eventually get divorced.

He has identified what he refers to as the four horsemen, which are predictors of relationship problems—criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. The quick antidote for these is to simply be respectful. Rather than criticize, openly communicate without criticism.

Instead of contempt, express disappointment without eye rolls or passive-aggressive comments. Ditch the defensiveness; it is important to take feedback so you and your relationship can improve.

And rather than stonewall, listen to your partner and have a constructive conversation when things are not going as smoothly as you would . Learn to communicate even your disappointments with respect.

11. Just ask. This one takes an open mind. Ask your partner, “What is one thing I can do this week to be a better partner to you?” The response may be surprising.

  The goal is not to be defensive—“I already do that anyway!” or “Yay, I wish you would do that, too!” Instead, simply absorb what you hear and take steps to implement your partner’s desire (as long at it is within your moral boundaries).

 This is a great way to meet needs that you may not have even realized your partner had.

12. Abide by the 5-to-1 rule. While you may think giving your partner a compliment will counter some negative “feedback” you provide, think again. The “magic ratio” is not 1:1, but rather 5:1.

This means that in order to have an overall positive feel about your relationship, you need to have at least five positive encounters (actions, statements) for every negative one.

The take home? Spend more time telling and showing your partner what you love and appreciate about them, laugh more, and spend more fun time together. When you do, the tough times are easier to get through.

13. Drop the perfectionism. Stop expecting your partner (or yourself) to be perfect.

Drop the all-or-nothing attitude—“You didn’t ask me about my presentation today, so you don’t care about me” or “You didn’t want to have sex last night so you don’t find me attractive.” Stop personalizing and generalizing your partner’s actions.

Instead, accept where they are. Be assertive by communicating your needs and wants in a respectful manner. Forgive your partner. And move on.

Above all, be hopeful. Relationships, life, have ups and downs. If you are in a downward slope right now, have faith: Things can get better. Put some time, energy, and love into your relationship. Focus on being the best partner you can be. Get help if you need it. And see the positive in your partner and your relationship.


How to Rekindle the Spark in Your Relationship

The Surprising Time Your Sex Life Will Regain That Spark

From the WebMD Archives

The honeymoon may be over, but that doesn’t have to mean the end of romance. Go on, break your relationship rut, reconnect with your partner, and fire up the passion that brought you together in the first place.

Remember those fabulous qualities you noticed in your partner when you started dating? Time and stress may have brought their less-favorable traits into sharper focus, says psychologist Elizabeth R. Lombardo, PhD. But their good qualities are probably still there.

Fixating on the negatives wouldn't have worked in the beginning and it doesn't work now. “In marriage, it's easy to freeze your partner into a fixed perception. Get that,” says Sherrie Campbell, PhD. She is a marriage and family therapist in Yorba Linda, Calif.

Make a list of what you fell in love with and another list of good things you've discovered over time. “Publicly brag about those amazing qualities your partner has,” Campbell says. “Refrain from making him the brunt of a joke. Embrace his positive qualities and let him know you've fully got his back.”

One study found that couples who did novel and arousing things together felt better about their relationships than those who stuck with routine, mundane activities.

“It's amazing what getting your normal routine and pushing your comfort boundaries will do for your love life,” says Sheri Meyers, PsyD. She's the author of Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-Proof Your Relationship.

The trick is to pick something fun and exciting, not just pleasant. Ride a roller coaster. Visit a far-flung destination.

Another option is to get competitive, suggests Rachel DeAlto, a communication and relationship expert in Point Pleasant, N.J.

“When you're physically competing and experiencing new things together, those dopamine levels soar, which replicates those early butterflies and gets you excited,” she says. Try one-on-one activities tennis, racquetball, skiing, hiking, or fishing.

“So many couples hold back kissing, touching, or holding each other until they have time or the desire to have sex,” says Meyers. But that's a mistake. Researchers have found that affectionate touch boosts the body's feel-good hormones.

Hug your partner. Hold hands. Be playful with touch.

“Whisper sweet and adoring things into your partner's ear. Brush against him in a sexually seductive way,” says Meyers. “Affection is a way to make love all day outside of the bedroom.”

Having fun during sex, instead of doing it for obligation's sake, can stoke the fires of your relationship. “Sex is the playground of a marriage,” says Campbell. “Fun doesn't have to mean you have to engage in sexual acrobatics; it just means have fun.”

Do you spend a lot of time trying read your partner’s mind? Limit the guess-work by being open and honest; it can bring you closer. “Ask your partner what he or she needs from you. Take turns. The goal is to show more and see more of each other, rather than defend the status quo,” says Meyers. The rewards run deep. Great conversation often leads to more open, loving sex, she says.

Every discussion doesn't have to be serious. Lighthearted laughter goes a long way in lifting your spirits and reconnecting. Have fun. Crack a joke. Revel in the humor of a situation together. “There is nothing sexier than a smile and a happy partner,” says Campbell.

What fuels your passion? Maybe it's having an exciting career or training for a half marathon. No matter — just get out and do it. When you love yourself and your life, you bring more energy and interest into your relationship.

“Independence and a sense of purpose are sexy,” explains Campbell. When you take care of your own needs and pursue what you're passionate about, you become less predictable and more interesting to your partner.

It's a win-win situation. You'll be more confident and peaceful as you keep evolving, and your relationship will thrive.

Remember those things you did when you were romancing your new love? Make a list and do them again now, suggests Paul N. Weinberg. He is the co-author of The I Factor: Simple Insights for Connecting in Your Personal Relationships. “It could be as simple as a way you kissed your partner on the cheek or as elaborate as the effort you put into a special date.”

Identify your relationship's strengths, then build on them, say Les Parrott, III, PhD, and Leslie Parrott, EdD, husband-and-wife founders of the Center for Relationship Development in Seattle. Know what works well in your relationship and do more of it.

Finally, dream big. Envision a future together than inspires you. Maybe it's a home bustling with a big family or vacations to new, exotic places. Whatever your dream, you can create a plan now to start making it happen.


Elizabeth R. Lombardo, PhD, psychologist, Chicago, Ill.

Sherrie Campbell, PhD, clinical psychologist, Yorba Linda, Calif.

Aron, A. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, February 2000.

Sheri Meyers, PsyD, marriage and family counselor, Los Angeles, Calif.

Rachel DeAlto, communications and relationship expert, Point Pleasant, N.J.

Paul N. Weinberg, co-author of The I Factor: Simple Insights for Connecting in Your Personal Relationships, Los Angeles, Calif.

Les Parrott, III, PhD, and Leslie Parrott, EdD, founders, Center for Relationship Development, Seattle.

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