This guest article from Psych Central was written by Nathan Feiles, LMSW
Sex in relationships is not always easy to maintain. Many things get in the way, from creating time for intimacy, to our own emotional issues that block intimacy, to issues in the relationship. It would take an entire book to discuss all the possible obstacles that could come between a couple and a healthy sex life, so rather than do this, let’s go right to some possible solutions.
There are many things couples can do to improve the state of their sexual relationship. The suggestions I’m presenting here are intended to cover a range of possible obstacles couples run into.
Here are seven suggestions to help get your sex life back on track:
1) Take care of your body. It is common for some people to put less effort into their appearance and health when they’ve been in a steady relationship for a while. If you don’t look like you care about yourself, it’ll be hard for your partner or anyone else to want to be sexually intimate with you. Going to the gym, yoga, aerobic exercise, keeping clean, groomed, and generally showing pride in your physical health and appearance brings with it a sense of confidence in who you are. This in itself is an attractor.
2) Let yourself be vulnerable. Fear of vulnerability can be a significant obstacle to a healthy sex life. If you were raised to feel shame with sexual desire, or to feel that your independence is being compromised by needing someone else to satisfy you in a very personal manner, it can be emotionally threatening to be sexually intimate. Whether it’s through therapy or through pushing yourself to take emotional risks to get beyond these obstacles, allowing yourself to be vulnerable — including accepting sexual desire as a natural and human urge, and also realizing that all relationships come with natural dependencies — will enhance your sex life.
3) Ask for, and offer directions. As we learn to accept our sexual desires, we become more in touch with what we want sexually — including setting the environment (e.g. romance), foreplay, positions, and otherwise. The more directions we can give to our partners about what we want, and the more we can ask when we’re uncertain what our partner wants, the better the overall experience will be for both.
4) Discuss sex with your partner. If your sex life is not functioning the way you’d like to see — whether it’s frequency, lack of adventure, avoidance, awkwardness, and so on — talk with your partner about sex. If the topic is tough to bring up, couples therapy is a good place to go for help. Partners who are unable to talk about sex when things aren’t going well usually experience more difficulty getting things back on track. Opening the conversation, and doing so in a safe and accepting manner (don’t ridicule your partner’s desires even if they don’t align with yours!) is important in this process.