Promoting healthy relationships and sex lives
Most couples in long-term relationships wonder at some point whether their sex lives are normal. With the added pressure of life, work, children and the changing roles the pair of you navigate, it can feel like sex takes a backseat and can create a divide at home as you wonder, “is this normal?”.
A healthy sex life is simply one that you are happy with.
And that is different for every single couple. Don’t let others weigh in with their own observations and standards.
Here are seven simple suggestions about how to keep your sex life healthy and fulfilling for you both:
1.TALK about your needs honestly and openly with your partner.
If you don’t discuss how you are feeling, the small signals you think you are giving about the state of your intimacy may go unnoticed amongst the chaos of the day. When you talk about your needs in a caring, open discussion, you are making time for one another and allowing each other to check in without distractions. Don’t assume your partner can read your mind or that you know what they are thinking, either. Assumptions can make intimacy worse when all that is needed is an open, loving conversation where you both get to say how you feel.
2. Don’t fixate on how often you are having sex.
Keeping score over how often you’re intimate with your partner can make it feel a lot worse than it is and force you to analyse your relationship in an unfair light. As life gets busier and you’re sharing your lives with more responsibilities, it’s important to focus on quality over quantity and be realistic with your expectations.
3. Make sex dates if you have to.
As unsexy as it may sound, when life truly is busy, scheduling sex or intimate dates can ensure you make the time to be together without being distracted by your kids, jobs and commitments.
While spontaneity is great, so is a healthy and maintained sex life – and sometimes scheduling sex is a way to help you stay connected when life is at its busiest. And just because you schedule it doesn’t mean you have to have sex when the time comes; it can be an opportunity to cuddle naked, give each other massages or just unwind together, even if sex isn’t what feels right at the moment. Your scheduling time for you and your partner to focus on each other.
4. Try new things.
After many years, sex can feel a bit same-same and as if you’re going through the motions, and sometimes it can mean you don’t really actually crave it anymore since you know exactly what’s going to happen. This is a common reason couples stop being intimate.
Be open to trying new positions and times of the day, or even add some toys to the equation to get that flutter of exploration back between the pair of you. Familiarity can be comfortable, but it can also be the death of desire. (But it doesn’t have to be!)
5. Don’t compare.
We’ve all heard that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’, and it’s true when comparing sex lives, too. Those friends who spend half the time in bed with their partner and the other half talking about it are on a different journey from you. You can be happy for their love life while also feeling content with your own. You don’t have to bend to suit other people’s standards if you and your partner are happy.
If you are comparing your situation to others, be sure you have all the facts before you jump to conclusions about the state of your own relationship. The last thing your partner wants to hear is that you’ve been complaining about your sex life to friends. It is likely to hurt your chances of increasing sexual activity rather than spur your partner into action once they hear how much “better” a friend’s relationship is. Comparison can make us do and think ugly things, but the only other person who matters in your quest to change your sex life is your partner, not your friend.
6. Prepare for life changes.
Big changes in your relationship, such as welcoming a new baby, are going to be wonderful, but they are also going to mean some things for your sex life. Be prepared for these changes by discussing them openly with your partner and being kind. Priorities are going to shift, and it’s important always to be aware of how to remain intimate even when sex is off the table.
Make plans such as scheduling time to be intimate or choose to sleep and cuddle naked instead of wearing bedclothes and remember that big life changes don’t have to make your sex life worse, but they will make it different. Preparing for it together makes the transition or temporary period of change much easier.
7. Last but not least: Don’t forget to woo your partner.
At some stage, a lot of couples forget that you need to warm your partner up before you get down to business. It can feel mechanical, forced, or dutiful, to have to sex when there is no romance involved. Foreplay can start as early as the morning, and we don’t just mean raunchy nudes sent over text. We mean notes left on mirrors, surprise dinner plans, flowers, spontaneous back rubs and acts that speak to your other half’s love language. Neglecting to romance your partner is almost guaranteed to reduce the number of times you end up having fulfilling sex.
As you grow together, couples go through many life stages that cover a huge range of internal and external factors that will change the way you are intimate with each other. While it would be nice to think that your sex life will be as frequent and passionate as it was at the very beginning all throughout the long years of life, it can be an unrealistic expectation. Hormones, age, body changes and life changes will undoubtedly change the way you want to interact with your partner, and it is a natural part of being a long-term couple.
Instead of worrying whether your sex life is ‘normal’, take the time to focus on your own journey. Consider each period of changed sexual intimacy as a special time that may or may not be repeated. When it’s frequent, and you have lots of spare time, cherish it, and when you are doing it less – cherish that too.
Instead of aiming for a strained sense of ‘normal’, enjoy each other and cherish the life you are building together that includes sex, but doesn’t revolve around it.
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