Relationships are a bit like parenting. When you’ve been doing it for a while, you think you’ve Got This. And then something unexpected happens and you realise that comfy seat you’d foolishly thought you’d settled in was all an illusion – and you’re back at paying attention and working at it again.
When you’ve been together for a while, what started out by being a totally comfortable groove can quite quickly become a rut with sides that are intimidatingly high to climb out of.
But a boring sex life is not a broken-never-to-be-seen-again sex life! Let’s upcycle, people! Take what you’ve got, and make it gorgeously fun again. No one should be blamed for a stale sex life – except those who just gave up on it!
But the joy of it is that it’s never too late. Even if you haven’t been doing it regularly for years, this is the summer you’re going to going to Make That Change, right? After all, you used to love it!
And having a strong relationship isn’t just a selfish thing that’s good for you. Strengthening your relationship benefits the whole family. And no, obviously sex isn’t the be-all and end-all of any relationship; but I think it is a handy gauge, a quick polaroid of the relationship portrait.
Couples in their 20’s have sex on average 2-4 times a week; couples in their 30’s do it twice a week, and into their 40’s & 50’s that gently slows to once or twice per week. Now there’s no rules as to what’s good for you – some will be more and others less. But do pay attention to the frequency, don’t let it drift and become forgotten. Maintaining a physical connection genuinely gives your relationship staying power and protects it from the stresses of life. Sex should always be a ‘tension reducer, not a tension producer’!
But of course, it’s all very easy to say – once you find yourself in that ever-slowing rut, how do you get yourselves back on track?
Well, now, I’m glad you asked… Here’s my top 5 tips on keeping things hot and healthy…
1. Being intimate is not about having sex.
And Intimacy is even more essential then the sex itself. It’s not even really about what goes on in the bedroom. It’s really important to set aside times to simply be together – cooking together, give each other massages, reading the paper together, learn something new together. And while you’re dashing through your days stop and touch each other. As the old song goes “touch my hair as you pass my chair…“. Hand holding, kissing hello & goodbye, sitting on the sofa next to each other – little things really DO mean a lot .
2. Talk about it.
No, not like that (though if that works for you, go right ahead…). If you know there’s awkwardness or irritations – dig them out and show them the light (the husband and I once had a very frank and in-depth talk about the rather unsatisfactory post-baby sex life that we’d settled into throughout a rare meal out at the local Indian restaurant. Goodness knows what those at the neighbouring tables thought…) The more you talk, the comfortable you are at talking – and apparently then the more likely you are to experiment and try new things!
Also, never stop saying I love you. It’s a small thing that should never be lost.
3.Too tired is not a good reason!
Too little time is a never-ending, reasonable and easy excuse for lack of effort. Instead of telling yourself there is no time, make time. Arrange a playdate for afterschool. Grab a takeaway instead of cooking. Ignore the laundry/vacuum/dishwasher until tomorrow.
Believe me – I know how it goes. By the time your head finally greets your pillow at night with a quiet hello of recognition, you’re so exhausted the last thing on your mind is sex.
But d’you know what I worked out? In the time it took me to have the conversation about why I wasn’t in the mood, and exactly what kind of day I’ve had, and how I couldn’t possibly feel like sex right now… I could have had some lovely sexy time, skipped the wounded almost-fight in the air, and gone to sleep relaxed and smiling. Totally a better way to end the day.
4. Try something. Anything.
One of my favourite quotes is by Paul Coelho
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.”
It’s too easy to slip into a routine in the bedroom. And what a killer that routine is when you’re looking for a sparkle of excitement. Yes, predictable is comfortable – but who feels sexy in their old worn-in-nicely slippers? No, the let’s-go-dancing smile happens when you slip on those new killer heels, or that bold red lippie you’ll never be brave enough to wear out but can’t help trying on occasionally.
So go ahead – I give you permission to try a different sex script.
Try having some fun and flirty products in the bedroom – even if in a busy house you decide that the bedroom is the best place to be, that doesn’t mean you have to follow a routine when you shut the door.
Try a silk or velvet bed throw. Light some candles – or turn all the lights out. Chill a bottle of champagne to enjoy together. Wear less – or wear more. Keep your eyes open and watch each other – or dig out a scarf and let them see nothing at all.
Take charge – your partner won’t ever mind; nothing makes you hot quicker than feeling that you’re desirable.
5. Be Flexible
(No, not in the ankles-behind-your-eyes way *eyeroll*). If you’ve got kids (of any age) then uninterrupted private time in the bedroom is pretty limited. Don’t waste the time you do have on foreplay – by the time you get to the main event someone will be yelling for you, or knocking on the door, or blowing up the house. Foreplay is all about the anticipation; it doesn’t need to be long slow touch massages. Sexy text messages, rude notes, explicit emails… they all work just as well.
And obviously your spontaneity is severely hampered once there are children in the house… remember how there used to be a trail of clothes across the kitchen and you never used to actually make it to the bedroom? Yeah, that happens a lot less once there are small people in the house. And that’s okay (quite apart from anything else, sex on the stairs is overrated and bloody uncomfortable) – don’t whatever you do think that you have to wait until all the planets of sex and privacy align, or you’ll not get another shag for ten years. Be flexible in your thinking, and get creative about the when and where. After all, a 5-minute quickie can you leave you smiling all day long – it doesn’t have to be an earth-moving marathon every time…
And don’t forget that during July you can WIN some Wild Excitement (worth over £100!) with Durex over on the competitions page. Adults Only!