In my work as a Relationship Coach and my wife Tracy’s work as a therapist, we often talk to couples dealing with sexual dissatisfaction and frustration in their relationships. After the initial "honeymoon phase," when anything and everything about your partner is sexy and exciting, the "flatness" of a routine eventually settles in. The complaints we hear most commonly from couples are that they're not having sex frequently enough and/or that they feel a lack of emotional connection or "spark."
Add children, demanding careers, and the everyday stressors of life and you have even greater challenges to overcome in order to maintain a hot sex life.
Most of us have been in this place, or one like it. But just because this feeling is common doesn't mean it's insurmountable. So what do you do if you find yourself in this frustrating situation? How do couples keep sexual passion and fire in their lives through life's challenges and distractions throughout the years?
Sure, you could just find a new partner and relive that "honeymoon phase" again. However, if you run away from sexual frustration in your current relationship either to pursue an affair or leave your partner all together, you will most assuredly find yourself facing the same challenge at some point. Instead, here are five positive and proactive tips we recommend in order to rekindle the sexual fire in your relationship.
1. Make your sexual relationship a priority.
Over the years, we tend to let our emotional and sexual relationship with our significant other take the back seat to all the other responsibilities in life. We take our connection for granted, and often don't realize that we need an input of energy and commitment, especially when it comes to sex.
There are limitless ways to make your sexual relationship a priority. But one of the simplest tricks is one we learned early on in our sexual development: flirting! Flirting is a powerful way to keep the sexual relationship "on the table," and can be done almost anytime. Flirting can be subtle or more overt ranging from sexy emails or texts, a touch as you pass each other by, a deep look into your partner's eyes or a whisper of a desire in your partners ear. Make a commitment to flirt on a daily basis with your partner and watch what unfolds.
2. Rekindle nonsexual intimacy first.
Often times, couples struggle with sexual frustration because there is frustration elsewhere in the relationship. By the same token, nonsexual intimacy is an essential foundation for a hot sex life. It is what nurtures a feeling of romance and emotional closeness, which thereby makes sex far more vibrant.
We all know that there's much more to sex than the "act" of intercourse. That's where nonsexual intimacy comes in. While there are many ways to cultivate nonsexual intimacy, try this one for starters: when you and your partner see each other at the end of the day after being apart, take a moment to deeply connect. This exercise can be as short as 30 seconds to a minute. What's important is that you make sure to be fully present: look into each other eyes or deeply hug one another. After, you can go onto the tasks of the evening, whether it's cooking dinner or going to the gym. Plus: if your children are around, they will feel comforted by watching their parents take the time to show affection for each other. You'll be an excellent partner and relationship role-model all at once!
3. Realize the importance of talking.
Opening up to your partner is an essential component of intimacy. So take time each day to check in with each other emotionally. Of course, we often check in with our loved ones about the logistics of our day. But try asking your partner how they are doing emotionally and listen with empathy.
Another way to rekindle emotional connection is to check in with each other about how connected you are currently feeling within your relationship. You can literally ask, "How connected to each other are we feeling today?" Chemistry is more than physical attraction. Emotional connection helps keep the passionate fires alive.
4. Commit to one or more sex date night(s).
Having sex begets having sex, and not having sex begets not having sex. So commit to a night or nights where you will have sex. You can have fun with this and flirt your way through the day leading up to your sex night helping to build the energy. At the same time, let go of expectations of this being the most romantic, passionate, or movie-screen sex. Let it just be how it's going to be. If you are tired, acknowledge that you are tired, yet still make love. If you are open in your hearts, you will feel more connected, in love and likely will also have a little more spring in your step the next day.
5. If issues persist, don't be afraid to ask for help.
If there are emotional wounds, resentments or other relationship issues that are blocking your sexual expression and openness, don't wait to seek help. The longer you sit with unresolved issues, the longer it will take to clear them. One of the biggest issues we see with couples is that they wait much too long before seeking third party help. We all need help sometimes, and of course it can be scary to ask for it. We are not taught relationship skills in school and very few of us have had healthy relationship role models. So why not seek out a relationship coach, couples therapist or attend a couples training such as we offer to help you learn how to navigate and clear these challenges?
Start now and take a step forward. The step you take today is a step toward revitalizing the passion in your relationship.