Are you in a long-term relationship? If so, how’s your sex-life going? Perhaps it’s starting to fade a bit, losing its punch, becoming boring. Or maybe it’s a rarity now or, worse, has disappeared altogether. Both of these options are common in long-term relationships, but sadly, many couples never stop to discuss what’s happened to the sexual/romantic chemistry they once had. Not surprisingly, many split up, citing a lack of closeness as the reason.

Can you keep a satisfying sex-life going after ten, twenty or, gasp, forty years? The answer is that it is possible, provided you are prepared to put the effort in to making it so. Yes, I know that doesn’t sound very exciting, but there can actually be some wonderful rewards in doing this. A satisfying sex life with someone who knows you well can give you something that you can’t get from a new or casual partner.

In the beginning of a new relationship, the sexual and romantic chemistry is fairly bubbling away and we don’t even consider that there will be a time when sex becomes routine and boring. But, as time goes by and we become more and more attached emotionally to our love, the sexual urgency wanes and romance is often pushed aside by life stresses. It’s not that we stop feeling sexually attracted to our partner, just that the need to ‘do-it-like-rabbits’ lessens dramatically.

Now, put in a decade or two – or three – of being together, and other ingredients enter the chemical mix: seeing each other every day, attending to raising kids, dealing with aging parents, work pressures and all the tedious and ordinary aspects of life in general. No wonder it’s hard to keep the attractions and desires going. In fact, several studies have shown that a lessening of sexual activity in relationships is quite predictable and is largely due to one single factor – length of relationship. Of course, other factors, such as couple issues, having sick children (well, having any children really), sexual difficulties, past sexual satisfaction and age can play a part, but these are smallish issues when compared to how many anniversaries you’ve shared together.

Before you head back to bed (to hide under the covers), let me offer some tips for keeping sex alive in long-term relationships.

1. Regularly (each week or fortnight) make a definite date to go out – just the two of you – and do something that is fun (it doesn’t have to be expensive – a walk in the park is just as effective as dining together in a fancy restaurant). Did you know that laughter is the best lubricant you can use?. Fun leads to more affection which leads, in turn, to sex.

2. Keep in mind that the more sex you have the more you want.

3. Try to think about all the reasons for having sex, such as comfort, intimacy, escape, affection, reducing stress and so on. In other words, have sex for reasons other than physical attraction.

4. Don’t hang onto the ‘doing-it-like-rabbits’ standard that you had in the beginning. This sets up an unreasonable idea of what sex ‘should’ be like.

5. Take risks. Try something different. Women tend towards conservativism, which in the bedroom, can often be a real dampener and even spell the death of sex. Boredom is a passion-killer. You simply can’t stay aroused if you can predict exactly what is going to happen next!

6. Don’t forget that while sex is perfectly natural, it is not naturally perfect. So you may have to practise sex until you’re both able to satisfy the other. Be open to learning and avoid criticism. Gentle guidance is definitely recommended here.

7. Lastly, and most importantly, you need to WANT to keep sex alive in your relationship. Without the motivation, none of the above will happen.

Many people in sexless (and love-less) long-term relationships are not happy with their situation and would like to change it if they could. Sometimes this seems an impossible task, and trying to sort it on your own may well be too hard. If you need further help, go and see an experienced psychologist who is experienced in the area of sexual therapy.

Dr V




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