Marriage is a long-term commitment that can last a lifetime. Throughout the course of a marriage, couples may experience changes in the dynamics of their relationship. When things change, couples may find that certain aspects of their relationship don’t quite feel the same anymore.
One area which may be susceptible to change is a couple's sex life. Sex has been called a “defining feature” of marriage and may be related to marital success. However, during marriage, numerous barriers to sex may occur. For example, couples may find that they have less one-on-one time, which could be due to the introduction of children or a time-intensive career.
Other factors can also affect sex within marriage such as physical or mental health conditions as well as relationship difficulties. When married sex becomes unsatisfactory, it may feel like the ‘spark’ that was once there has now gone. The good news is that with a little work, it’s possible to reinitiate sex within a sexless marriage.
- Communicate the issue with your partner
- Don’t force it; work through the barriers to intimacy
- Become intimate outside to bedroom
- Make each other feel good about one another
- Spice things up (focus on each other's preferences, introduce sex toys, etc)
- Find time for each other after intimacy
1. Be open about your concerns
The first step to making a change involves voicing your concerns to your partner. Although you may find this daunting, they could feel the same way you do. If the feelings are mutual, it could feel like a weight has been lifted from both of your shoulders.
Communication is a crucial step in restoring sexual intimacy to your relationship.
Alternatively, your partner may be unaware that the issue exists. In this case, communicating with them will put your concerns on their radar. This will allow them to give you their thoughts and input. Communication is a crucial step in restoring sexual intimacy to your relationship.
2. Don’t force it
You might feel inclined to put more effort on trying to be intimate with your partner. However, if it feels forced then this approach may backfire. It may be possible that intimacy is missing due to underlying issues within your relationship.
Without addressing these first, efforts to become intimate may feel forced. For example, one partner may be feeling stressed out from work or childcare duty. Until such stressors are mitigated, trying too hard to become intimate may not lead to the desired outcome, resulting in potential frustration for both partners.
3. Address unresolved issues
Part of communicating your concerns will be identifying the current barriers to intimacy. For example, stress has been found to negatively affect sexual activity among couples. Other examples may include a lack of time or relationship difficulties.
Once you have identified the barriers, you can work on addressing them to free up time and headspace for intimacy.
An example of this may include taking measures to spend more time together. For example, hiring babysitters or arranging playdates to give you some alone time. Alternatively, if you have relationship issues then you may explore how you can resolve these (see point 6).
4. Be empathetic and supportive
Regardless of where your issues lie, it’s vital that both partners understand each other's difficulties. Being empathetic towards each other will ensure that you both feel heard and are reassured your feelings are valid.
Being supportive of one another is also crucial for working through your problems. Showing your partner that you are supportive of them is a great way to display your love and affection. It will also offer them comfort knowing that they are not alone in their difficulties.
5. Respect your partner's privacy
If you’re having relationship issues, you might be tempted to express your dissatisfaction to others. It’s important to understand that by doing so, you may leave your partner feeling upset or even betrayed. Especially if you’ve communicated the issue to somebody else before your partner.
While it’s good to have support from friends and loved ones, where intimacy is concerned some people prefer to keep things private.
If you do talk about the subject with your friends or family, try adopting a general and subtle approach. You may be able to discuss the topic without explicitly declaring your sexual issues.
6. Go to couples therapy
If you’ve identified that you have relationship issues, couples therapy may be an effective tool for working through them. There could be some barriers to couples therapy, which might include the cost and associated stigma. However, for some couples, therapy can be a worthwhile investment.
If you can’t vent your thoughts and feelings during one-to-one time with a partner, therapy sessions may offer a safe space to do so. Therapists can act as an impartial mitigator for your relationship troubles. The therapy can give both partners an opportunity to feel heard, under the guidance of a trained professional.
7. Start with sexless intimacy
While increasing the frequency of sexual intimacy may be your end goal, you don’t need to be sexual to be intimate with your partner. Intimacy can start with spending more time together. Examples can include having intimate conversations and enjoying each other's company.
Engaging in intimacy in a nonsexual setting can help both partners feel closer to each other.
By doing so, when the time comes for sexual intimacy it may feel like it happens naturally. Ultimately, intimacy is an act that should take place throughout your relationship, not just in the bedroom.
8. Discuss your fears and preferences
Communicating your sexual preferences as well as fears can help to improve your sex life. Explaining your preferences will help your partner to feel confident in their capacity to sexually satisfy you. Doing the same for your partner is a great way to express care and affection. One study noted that husbands reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction when their wives reported greater sexual satisfaction.
Understanding each other's fears will allow you to alleviate one another's concerns. This may extend to exploring sexual tolerances and boundaries. Part of improving your sex life as a couple means making sure that both partners are comfortable and feel safe during intimacy.
Foreplay can also be enjoyed without sex occurring subsequently.
In some cases, foreplay can be used when you don’t have time for full intercourse. Alternatively, you may wish to offer your partner some selfless sexual relief, foreplay is a great tool for this. Some research even suggests that foreplay may be more important to women than sex itself.
9. Express what you want in an affirmative and positive way
There can be a number of different ways to get the same message across, think about how your partner would like to be spoken to. Research acknowledges that people who express affection in their partner's preference experienced increased satisfaction within their relationship and sexually compared to those who meet their partner's needs less.
Try thinking of your sexual needs in a way that will make your partner feel good about themselves. For example, instead of saying “I want this” (a demanding/selfish expression) try: “I would love it if you did this”. Although you’re asking for the same thing, the latter expresses your enthusiasm for the act and makes your partner the focal point of the equation.
10. Spice things up
Spicing things up can be a good way to make sexual intimacy more exciting. After you’ve communicated your preferences you may find that you have new ideas for acts of sexual intimacy. This may involve acting out each other's fantasies or focusing more on the preferences of your partner.
Spicing things up can help you be confident that you are satisfying your partner's fantasies and feel comfortable disclosing your own. This will allow you to create an environment where both partners' needs are being met sexually, which can bring a new lease of life to the bedroom.
11. Improve your foreplay
The age-old analogy where foreplays are concerned is “heating up the oven”. While it might not be something that everyone engages in, foreplay can be an excellent way to pleasure each other and ensure that you’re both fully turned on before sexual intercourse. If you get good at foreplay, your partner may even reach climax prior to intercourse.
12. Plan it with your partner
Planning ahead allows you to find time to be sexually intimate. This is an especially useful technique if you or your partner have time-sensitive schedules. Planning ahead will help you to ensure that you’ve set some time aside for one another so you can prevent other commitments from becoming a barrier to your sex life.
This can be as simple as creating set days that you’re intimate with each other. This technique may not work for everyone. Some people may dislike the idea of scheduling sex and find themselves more turned on by impromptu acts of intimacy.
13. Improve your flirting game
If you’ve heard the phrase “the thrill is in the chase” you may know that one of the most exciting times in a relationship is during the early stages. This involves getting to know each other and trying to figure out if you feel the same way. Generally, it’s an effort-intensive period in any relationship and one that involves a lot of flirting.
Poor flirting has been associated with difficulties in initiating intimate relationships. Trying to rekindle some of your old behaviors when you were trying to impress each other such as becoming good at flirting and making each other feel good about themselves could go a long way to restoring the early spark.
14. Suggest showering together
If it’s difficult to find time to be sexually intimate together, you can try bringing intimacy to your everyday life. Showering is something that most people do regularly and doing so together may help bring couples closer together.
You don’t necessarily have to be sexually intimate while you shower. However, being in the presence of your partner whilst unclothed may lead to arousal and sexual activity being initiated. Another perk is that you might save some water in the process!
15. Try out sex toys
Sex toys are an excellent way to bring excitement to the bedroom. They’re available in various forms, some of which include dildos, cock rings and prostate massagers. Utilizing sex toys may prove an effective way to increase the pleasure you experience during intimacy.
Certain sex toys can pleasure both partners simultaneously. An example of which is a vibrating cock ring, which can help lead to firmer erections and provide vibrations for both partners to enjoy. It’s important to note that hygiene should be considered when using sex toys and they should be cleaned regularly in accordance with your manufacturer's guidelines.
16. Find time for each other after sexual intimacy
Spending time together after you’ve been sexually intimate can be a great way to prolong the feelings of satisfaction and closeness to your partner. This can be as simple as laying in bed together after sex, or even heading out to spend the day together.
Exceptions could apply if you’re fitting sex into a busy schedule. For example, if you’ve organized a quick session before a social event or work you may not have the time together afterwards. However, sending your partner a message to let them know how much you enjoyed being intimate with them could go a long way.
If you’re worried about a lack of sexual intimacy in your relationship, fear not. There are a number of techniques you can try to reinitiate a sex life within your marriage. Communicating the issue is a vital part of fixing it.
By airing your concerns you allow your partner to become aware of the problem.
Once both partners are on the same page, finding ways to address it such as freeing up your schedule, couples therapy, or discussing your preferences may help. Taking steps to improve your intimacy skills may also be a great help. For example, focusing on your partner's preferences, introducing sex toys, or improving your foreplay may lead to both partners feeling more sexually satisfied.
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