Many couples find sex and intimacy take a back seat once they have children and life becomes more routine, predictable and domestic. The initial high of a love affair is caused by chemical changes in the brain and those heady feelings that accompany hot sex last around 18 months.
If things have become a little routine and you’re not feeling inspired sexually then don’t panic, says therapist Andrew G Marshall. It doesn’t mean your sex life is over and you’re no longer attracted to your partner.
One of his suggestions is to slow sex down: “If you stop in the middle of lovemaking to have tea and talk to each other, it shows how desire comes and goes – that sex isn’t just a race to the end. It allows you time to be intimate with each other. Sex that used to last 15 minutes suddenly lasts an hour-and-a-half. Sex doesn’t have to involve going outside your comfort zone, although challenging yourself is good.”
Marshall suggests reinventing your sex life every few years and focusing on building confidence, self-esteem and openness so that it gets better over time. Sharing vulnerabilities builds trust and intimacy. It’s not always easy to talk about sex with a partner because we don’t want to criticise so it’s best to frame things in a positive way – explain what you enjoy and want to build on. Improving your erotic life is about making a decision to prioritise it and taking the time to plan things.
Spontaneity is great but anticipation can be just as exciting and it means you will have sex more often and therefore come to want it more.
“Be the change you want to see in your relationship. Want more romance? Be more romantic. Want more spontaneity? Be more spontaneous. Don’t sit around and wait for your partner to read your mind and do all the work. Instead, take the initiative and make positive changes in your sex life to empower yourself,” says sex therapist Dr Laura Berman.
Treat your body as a temple – dress to excite yourself, enjoy your body and feed your mind – the brain is the biggest sex organ. Explore different forms of erotica, sex toys, sex-positive porn and fantasise more.
Sex is a microcosm of life and the more excited we are about our work and passions, the more this energy will feed into our sex lives. Create a sensual home – if you have a TV in the bedroom, move it and create boundaries for sex and sleep.
If your sex life has reached a plateau then you need to reconnect in a non-sexual way rather than add more pressure with ‘sexy weekends’ or ‘date nights’. Do something physical together such as walking or a bike ride. “All relationships plateau but you need to re-engage with one another and have a proper conversation,” says Christine Northam, a Relate counsellor. Don’t underestimate the importance of non-sexual touch – cuddles and eye contact will help build intimacy.
Widen your definition of ‘sex and intimacy’
Society likes to put us in boxes and it’s easy to define someone as kinky or vanilla when there’s room for both within a relationship. Advertising showing the virgin/vamp dichotomy and how a ‘sexy’ woman should look and act surrounds us.
Playing dominant/submissive doesn’t have to involve pain either. Tantric teacher Rebecca Lowrie told a beautiful story about power play – it can be as simple and loving as giving a partner a bath and putting them to bed, not allowing them to do anything. Explore raising your sexual energy in other ways through tantric massage and using sex toys throughout the day – wearing jiggle balls for example will give you an internal massage as you work and keep you tuned into your body.
Erotic art, music – create sexy playlists for each other. Sex-positive porn presents sex as something mutually pleasurable rather than from the male-centric point of view. Bleu Productions, Blue Artichoke Films, Comstock Films, LUST Films and Tristan Taormino all make erotic work that will stimulate your mind and fantasies. Porn and erotica also give you a dialogue to work with if you’re a little shy about aural sex and expressing your pleasure verbally. Write down phrases that turn you on and practice using them when you’re pleasuring yourself.
Playing with domination and submission encourages you both to behave in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways, which makes sex feel exciting. Novels like 50 Shades of Grey and Bared to You have helped many women to share a dialogue around this and encouraged them to explore new sex toys and games. The book 50 Ways to Play by Don and Debra Macleoid will help you to translate fiction into actual play. They believe that sex should be surprising and pack a punch. The ethos of BDSM is education so if you’d like to learn the art of spanking, prostate massage or Japanese rope bondage check out websites like FetLife for local listings.
Learn how to surrender
Berman suggests a ‘surrender date’ where you let your partner take charge of everything from your outfit, accessories and lingerie to the choice of food. Let yourself relish the feeling of freedom from responsibility and see how opens up your sex life.
Take sex out of bedroom and look at domestic items in a new light. Have fun with theatrical props such as a slapstick… Explore naturism if it appeals. Be a voyeur or an exhibitionist at a fetish or sex club or try an intimate massage party.
“You need to intrigue your partners, woo their minds and take charge,” says psychotherapist Phillip Hodson. A friend of mine told her husband he could take her whenever he wanted, which adds a little frisson to that shopping trip…
Boost your libido with food and aphrodisiacs
Go on a cooking retreat for couples to stimulate your senses. Some foods may offer aphrodiasiac properties and feel good to eat and play with too.
Feed your body with nutritious, high vibration foods like raw foods and maca. These will give you energy for life and sex rather than consuming it and making you feel tired, as wheat, grains and dairy tend to do. More on boosting your libido here.