It’s been years and years that you’ve been together. You still love and care for each other. But routine and predictability have become the order of your day. Familiarity has settled over your relationship like an old, comforting blanket. And something’s gone out of your life.
What? When you put your finger on it, you know it’s that indefinable quality that provided the spark, the thrill, the body-and soul-thumping passions of those early days together. Your sex life has become more predictable, less spontaneous. You hate to admit it; but there’s no getting away from it: the glow has begun to dim.
And you’ve begun to wonder: is this the lull before the dull?
And even more worriedly: is this inevitable, inescapable, and irreversible?
As a matter of fact, it’s not. Monogamy is not necessarily synonymous with monotony. Of course you’ve got to work at re-kindling that old excitement, but then nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.
So, if your sex life is worth some of your while, here are suggestions that can help you light a new fire even if all you see right now is the valiant flicker of dying embers!
1. Another time, another place: If you’ve tried every possible position, now try a change of place. To start with, there’s a whole range of furniture to exhaust beyond the bed. Have you tried the living-room sofa, the dining-room table and each of the dining chairs sequentially? Then there’s: behind the blinds, under the shower or in the tub – anywhere, except near a kitchen fire.
There’s almost an air of impropriety about love-making in places other than the bed – and that’s the very quality that makes them such deviously delightful possibilities. And adds that edge of new adventure to an old pastime.
2… Now try a change of pace: The traditional height of machismo has been forceful – even, violent – penetration, followed by a piston performance. Men in particular harbor the misconception that every sexual encounter progresses relentlessly from a crescendo of passion to the climax of orgasm.
Revise that notion. You can get instant gratification without a partner. But you’re a twosome: so, make the most of that by using delayed gratification, teasing and tantalizing your way to the heights. Go slow, remember that sensual Abba serenade: “Andante, Andante.” Use touch more often, build up sexual tension more gradually.
3. Bring the courtship back into your relationship… It’s almost a truism now that the moonlight-and roses routine peters out sometime after the honeymoon – and sooner rather than later. To believe that – and to “accept” and “adjust” to it – is the quickest way to put out the sexual fires. One of the best-kept secrets is that romance ranks among the top turn-ons. So, don’t underestimate sweet nothings in the ear, a bouquet on a birthday and little gifts not to mark any occasion, but just because…
If your relationship has descended into a limbo, try simple acts of revival like these.
4. Enjoy the obstacle course: When children come into your life, privacy goes out the window. And, without real privacy, there can be no real sex. (For children, too, it can be unsettling – even traumatic, psychologists tell us – to come upon their parents making love). What do you do?
Take up the challenge. To get time and privacy for yourselves, you might have to send your four-year-old to join the neighbour’s tots in a long spell of play. Or, when your children are older, you might buy them movie tickets as a weekend treat. Not forgetting that you’ll be laying by a treat for yourself at home.
Put the furtive element back into your love life – you’ll be putting the excitement back into it!
5. Make a date: Sounds corny after 15 years of married life? But, in our crowded, scurrying existences, if we leave love-making to chance and impulse, other more ‘demanding’ jobs are likely to elbow it out of the way. Instead, set aside a time (or times) during the week when you will not permit anything else to intrude into your appointed hour under the covers.
Scheduling sex, as we schedule almost everything else in our lives these days, may be the only way to get round to it except on a catch-as-catch-can basis.
Does it sound too mechanical? Actually, you may find it works out to be just the opposite. Because you have to wait, you can fantasize about it. Anticipation and expectation heighten the intensity. You can spend the whole day or the whole week wondering about it, planning it, wishing it. Much as you used to look forward to your dates in the days before you married.
6. Get away from it all: Changing your love-making scenery is one way to pep up your sex life. When was the last time you took a weekend off together? Very often, when you get out of the rut, you get a whole new perspective on your love life – and the motivation to do something about it.
7. Give – and receive: Take turns in being the aggressive partner. If you’ve always been the one to indulge in all the foreplay, try giving your partner a chance to make some of the moves. Not by saying, “Why don’t you… “. Instead, kiss or touch him/her. Then retreat – that gives your partner a chance to respond. Try being the passive partner now and again – you’ll realize what you’ve been missing!
8. Tell your partner what you like: (And ask him/her what he/she likes). It’s the rock that most sexual relationships flounder on: lack of communication. You assume you know (by now) what your partner enjoys in bed – although you may never have asked him/her. You also assume your partner knows by now what you enjoy – although you’ve never told her/him.
If, instead, you try talking about each other’s desires, you might find a few surprises in store.
One problem, admittedly, is that most women have been brought up to believe that good girls don’t. Even talk about what they like in bed, that is. And they can go through years and decades of marriage, and grow from girls to women, without their husbands ever finding out.
It’s not a problem that’s insurmountable. It does require a great degree of sensitivity, patience and trust. Instead of asking her straight out how she likes hers (you’re not talking about bed tea, remember), try gentle persuasion. Caress her in one way and ask her how she liked it. Then, in another way, and ask her which was better.
Another way: Read the same book on sex (not pornography) together. Then, discuss your experiences in the light of what you’ve read. Not only will this help to ease off embarrassment on the subject of sex, it may even suggest new ideas that you can try out!
It is not easy to throw away half a lifetime’s mental blocks, but keep trying. The bedtime bonanza will be worth it.
Of course, some men are also guilty of not talking about what they like in bed. For a different reason – they presume they’ll just take what they want. In the long run, of course, this does their sex life no good – but it may be years before they find out.
So, TALK. As sexologists keep reminding their clients, it’s the only four-letter word you need to pepper your sexual experiences with.
Dream up some excitement: Mental routines in sex can get as tiresome as the physical. And arousal is really in the head. Enter fantasy.
It’s what most people try not to allow to enter their heads when they’re in bed with a long-time partner whom they love. Guilt is the predominant feeling associated with fantasizing at such a time: In the mind of, say, a faithful, fortyish wife with conservative values, to fantasize about being seduced by her husband’s best friend while she’s being made love to by her husband, is tantamount to infidelity, no questions about it.
The main reason for this sexual guilt is that, in the minds of most people, fantasy equates with desire: What you conjure up in your fantasies, it is presumed, is what you want in real life.
But, several studies, including one at the Masters & Johnson Institute, have shown that this is far from being necessarily so Masters and Johnson report, “We have found that most women who are aroused by fantasies of ‘unusual’ sex practices such as rape, incest, sex with animals or sado-masochistic sex, indicate that they have no interest whatsoever in acting out the fantasy.” In other words, a woman who fantasies about being raped doesn’t generally want to be raped. But the fantasy provides a safe release valve for sexual feelings and is a harmless turn-on.
There are exceptions, of course, where a particular fantasy may virtually take over a person’s life, becoming such an obsession that it causes psychological problems. In these cases, counselling is called for. But, to use fantasy as a means of getting arousal to orgasm is a bit of erotica that most sexologists would have no hesitation in recommending.
Should you share your fantasy with your partner or even act it out together? Here, the experts are far more cautious. Among the problems that can arise:
- A highly-sensitive lover who feels that his/her partner’s satisfaction derives from fantasy rather than from their sexual experience per se might feel inadequate, belittled or even unwanted.
- In the overwhelming majority of cases where fantasies are acted out, reality falls far short of expectations, as a result of which the fantasy itself loses its fizz.
- In an attempt to enliven your sex life, you may end up devastating your relationship. Take a situation like this: Both partners have fantasized about group sex. Eventually, they share the fantasy with each other and, then, they decide to act upon it. However “broad-minded” they consider themselves, and however confident of their relationship, there is a definite danger here that actually trying out this fantasy will lead from thrills and titillation to turbulence and trauma. Again, there are exceptions, but it would really be too risky to try and find out if you and your partner rank among them.
The bottomline about sexual fantasies is that they are probably the best aphrodisiac around, provided you keep them, in most cases, where they came into being: in your mind.
9. Discover the whole body: Expand your horizons. Sex is not just the penis and the vagina. There’s a whole array of erogenous zones you may never have explored – rom the mouth and the ears to the love button and the underside of the feet.
And, yes, in the case of women, there’s the clitoris – the seat of their orgasm, a fact that many men are vet to discover.
10. Take a new look at sex: Remember that sex is not always orgasm on demand; it’s not even always intercourse. If you can get rid of this mind-set, you may well find that other kinds of passion play bring equally satisfying arousal. Try a sensuous massage. Or watching an erotic movie in a tight cuddle. Or playing footsie over a candlelight dinner at your favourite beachside café. All this is body talk. And isn’t that what sex really is about?
Clean up your act: It’s inevitable with some men and women that, when they begin to take their partner or the relationship for granted, they slide into carelessness and even slovenliness over their personal appearance and hygiene. Buy how can you expect the loving to be great when you get into bed with the same sweaty T-shirt you’ve been wearing all day; or with your breath reeking of onion; or with your body embellished only by five o’clock shadow or underarm fuzz?
Cleanliness is next to sexiness. Haven’t you noticed – when you’re freshly showered and powdered/perfumed, you feel more sensual, even wanton? So, get fresh. Literally.
11. Check your lifestyle: If your sexual performance is being impaired by organic disturbances such as erectile difficulties, consider aspects of your lifestyle that might be to blame. Things like smoking and drinking too much alcohol. As long ago as 1919, it was suggested that there might be a link between smoking and impotence problems. Now there’s evidence to back this belief. Researchers have found that smokers are more likely to have abnormally low penile blood pressure – a condition that may contribute to erection problems.
Alcohol has a reputation as a sexual stimulant, but in excessive amounts it’s actually a depressant. Among its other effects: it can lead to erectile difficulties by impairing blood flow to the penis, it can damage the tests in the long run affecting the libido as well as the production of sperm, it can even result in impaired or absent orgasm! All these effects are well documented.
The third lifestyle factor is just plain stress. It can lead to impotence/frigidity, dampened desire and compulsive masturbation.
12. Finally, take it easy: Don’t work too hard at injecting new spontaneity into your old love life. Work doesn’t work for sex!
Love-making should be leisurely, relaxed, not a goal-oriented performance. Sex is not a circus, and you are not a performing flea. If you analyse, decode and dissect each move and every response – such as whether she sighed yearningly enough, or whether his erection lasted long enough – you’ll forfeit all the enjoyment.
The bottomline is that, in order to please your partner, you’ve got to be having a good time yourself. So, put your heart into it – more than your sinews and your sweat!