Just as great sex can prolong an unhealthy relationship, bad or unsatisfactory sex can sadly torpedo a good one. However, that doesn’t have to be the case.
Where there is love, respect, and an equal amount of self-awareness and good humour, there too, exists the possibility of sizzling clinches and tender intimacies.
To get more of the latter, here are five ways to put the snap, crackle and pop back into a committed sexual relationship that’s gone soggy.
1. Bad sex is a warning light not a STOP sign
Unsatisfactory sex is indeed a sign that something’s wrong in a relationship — but maybe not as much as you think…or feel. Unfortunately, bad sex can sometimes loom very large, overshadowing other positives in a partnership.
“There is an oft-repeated saying in the realm of sex therapy that when sex is satisfactory it is an important component of a relationship — adding about 20 percent to the overall positive experience of the relationship. However, when sex isn’t going well, it registers a negative impact of up to 70 percent on the experience for the individuals,” explains Toronto-based sex therapist Marion Goertz.
Don’t think of a stale sex life as a sign that your relationship is doomed. Rather think of it more as a signal alerting you to the fact that a relationship tune-up is needed. “It’s like the engine warning light that a relationship is needing attention.”
2. Your mantra: It will get better
Complacency and resignation is the enemy of progress in a relationship. And if you’ve given up on your partner’s ability to please you in the boudoir — or your ability to return the same — then that may be part of the problem.
Recognition that intimacy can deepen and become more satisfying is an essential ingredient in solving your sex dilemma. We can “absolutely” change “our ways of interacting, connecting and experiencing intimacy,” says Goertz.
“When two people are open to increasing their intimacy on all levels — not just in the bedroom, when their minds and hearts begin to connect in new and more intimate ways — our bodies quickly follow.”
3. Commit to the process
Change takes effort and commitment. “Choosing to work to improve any part of our human functioning, to the degree that we are physically and mentally able, is first and foremost a choice — and a commitment,” she explains.
That means you’re going to have to talk about your dissatisfaction with your partner. But before you do that, you may need to sort out just exactly what’s turning you off and why. For example, is the issue that you want to have more sex or less? Or even, perhaps, none at all? Do you long for more variety? Do you want your partner to show greater tenderness and attention?
Once you’ve sorted out what’s turning you off, think about the reasons that may underlie your dissatisfaction.
“When we look closer,” says Goertz, “the couple tends to have lost their safe middle ground and have disconnected due to busyness, outside stresses, illness, etc.” Other factors that may influence sexual satisfaction may be a history of infidelity or suspicions thereof, fertility stresses, feelings of shame that make sexual expression difficult, or unresolved emotional issues.
4. Be nicer to one another outside of the bedroom
If your relationship is suffering from a lack of overall enjoyment in one another’s company (clothed or otherwise) boost the pleasure principle in your interactions by applying the golden rule to your loved one.
“Show appreciation, say please and thank you,” suggests Goertz. Buy your beloved his or her favourite brand of potato chips — nothing says ‘I want you’ like a bag of artisanal dill pickle chips — or buy them their favourite magazine, or flowers.
“Say something nice about them that they will overhear. Call as you are leaving for home. So many things that say, ‘I respect you, your feelings matter to me, I want you to know that I delight in you’.”
The more beloved your partner feels by you in the kitchen, dining room and living room, the greater the intimacy and sense of trust in the bedroom.
5. Make a project out of it
“Good sex requires scheduling, planning, creativity…and playful, respectful collaboration around frequency, timing and technique,” explains Goertz.
If performance or technique is the problem, ‘fess up to your partner and tell him or her what you’d like them to do. Be bold and show them.
If time and home life stresses are taking their toll on intimacy then it may be time for a dirty night, or weekend, away.
“The best sex is about taking turns planning and carrying out adult play dates, with fun high on the agenda in a pleasant environment with plenty of time and good appetizers. That’s why many people report better sex when they are away on a holiday together.”
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