How to Maintain Intimacy in a Long-Term Relationship
A long and happy marriage is often its own reward. Still, after many years together, couples can find that their intimacy with each other dwindles, even if their feelings don’t. Life goes on, routines are put in place and suddenly it can become hard to find the time or energy for meaningful sexual encounters.
If you’re experiencing this then please don’t be alarmed. While it’s not a pleasant situation you’re far from alone. Sex Therapist Laurie Watson, author of ‘Wanting Sex Again’, claims that within two years 20 percent of all marriages end up sexless (10 times a year or less), with an additional 15 percent becoming low-sex (25 times or less).
Before you throw in the towel and consign yourself to a life absent of sexual satisfaction ask yourself this: How does my partner feel? One of the biggest causes of sexual dissatisfaction in a marriage is the mismatch between a couples’ personal sex drive. It’s been estimated that 1 out of every 3 couples have a gap in their sexual desire so what you consider to be an internal crisis may seem completely fulfilling for your partner. Before you can fix anything it’s important to take those first steps and actually talk to your partner about how you feel. Once you’ve taken this step then you can both begin rebuilding an intimate relationship which works well for both of you.
One of the biggest obstacles for married couples, especially as the years go on, is time. Perhaps you have children or jobs. Big commitments that see your personal time dwindle and your time as a couple decline even more so. Sometimes time even becomes an excuse. Before even thinking about working with each other one or both of you decide “There’s not enough time” and things get further out of hand.
Next time you think to yourself “I don’t have time” instead say “it’s not a priority” then decide if that really feels right. Chances are that maintaining intimacy in your marriage is a priority so you’re going to need to find the time to make it just that: A priority.
If you really are struggling then start out small: Decide as a couple to make time for each other once a week and build up from there. Plan ahead with this time so that a commitment has been made but don’t be afraid to be flexible either; if your partner comes down with the flu, for example, it might be worth rescheduling.
During this time together make sure that you’re proactive and fully engaged. Another big hiccup for married couples is routine. Sex becomes something that you just do and there’s a standard order with standard positions, usually done within a certain timeframe. Break this chain and try to do something new with each and every sexual encounter. Be direct about how much you desire your partner, create a romantic build-up and don’t be afraid to explore. Bring new items into the bedroom, share what turns you on, and try new positions. Not everything has to be a success and you can laugh off failures together, but when you do find something that works then make sure your partner knows.
You may not always feel motivated to have sex sometimes but if your partner initiates then it might be worth exploring together and seeing how things go. Popular relationship therapist Michele Weiner-Davis describes rekindling a sex-starved marriage in the same way as running: Sometimes you don’t always want to put those running shoes on and hit the pavement, but once you start you often find that momentum builds. If you accept your partner’s advances and things still don’t heat up then not continuing is always a viable option. Respecting each other’s boundaries is also important, after all.
Finally, in order to maintain intimacy in the bedroom, it’s important to be intimate elsewhere too. Make sure that you’re affectionate with your partner every single day and let them know just how much you value them as a partner. Leave little notes for them, be direct with your compliments and make time for random romantic displays. Arranging a dinner date every now and then can be a fantastic way to increase both romance and intimacy in a marriage. Plus, if you want to really shake it up you can incorporate some roleplay and tease each other as if this were your first time dating. You might just find your heart has a familiar flutter if you do.
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