Recently, a couple came in for premarital counseling worried and terrified. Apparently, several of their already-married friends told them that their sex life was about to die once they say "I do", and that once the honeymoon ends, the arguments about when/how often begin.
"Is it true?" they asked. They enjoy a wonderful sensual sex life together and wanted to know how to keep it alive.
It is true that every couple's sex life goes through stages and that the "new couple sex" stage ends. Sex in marriage changes, matures, gets better, and has downtime over the lifetime of your relationship.
But it is also true that you can maintain a strong sexual, sensual, and erotic relationship that is vibrant, exciting, and fulfilling with these four simple steps:
1. Understand that married sex differs from "new couple" sex
Great married sex is about understanding that the two of you will have a lifetime of sensual and erotic experiences together. Some will be great, most will be just okay, and some will be bad.
The most difficult piece of work is making the OK sex ... okay! This kind of sex happens when one person has a higher level of desire and the other person just goes along for the ride.
Most couples I see have a deep belief that there is something wrong with their sex life if they have different desire levels. This is actually perfectly normal. Age, stress, hormones, injuries, and medications all have an impact on your sex drive and ability to orgasm. It's important to learn to navigate this OK sex with creativity, understanding, and generosity.
2. Realize that sex isn't only intercourse
The goal for your sensual life together is to have a buffet of touch—intimate, erotic, intercourse, and so on. Just because you are touching in an erotic way does not mean you must have intercourse. It's a very freeing feeling to disconnect the link between touch and sex.
Sometimes intercourse is not an option (broken leg, sprained back, babies), but don't let that stop you from having playful and intimate dates. Plan a date night with your spouse where you agree to a level of touch (intimate or erotic) and stay there without moving up the scale to sex.
3. Schedule sex
This is greatly debated among couples. How can scheduled sex be sexy? When you schedule sex with your partner, you are stating that your sensual life is important to you and that you want to carve time out for your partner.
You are not just waiting to see if there is enough energy left at the end of the day to give him or her. It also allows for anticipation to build as you get ready, pick special clothes, and imagine all the what's and when's. Try scheduling a few sex dates and see if it works for your relationship.
4. Be spontaneous and try something new.
It always feels odd counseling couples to schedule spontaneous sex. It seems impossible, but the spontaneity I'm referring to is not about when you have sex; rather, what you do during sex.
Passion and desire stem from the unknown. It is important that each month you add something new to your sex life. I'm not talking about a big "new," but a small "new"—a slight change to the position or location, a different rhythm, turning the lights on or off, saying something kinky, or keeping some clothes on. These small changes invite the unknown back into your relationship and keep passion alive.
There are many octogenarian couples who report having wonderful and satisfying sex lives. When we hear that, most of us throw a wish into the universe: "I hope that's us someday!"
It can, but you need to allow your definition of sex and sexy to change. And, as always, talk with your spouse about these four steps, about sex, and about your desires and needs.
If this is difficult, consider meeting with a couples counselor to help facilitate these important conversations.