When you first started dating your partner, you had chemistry, attraction and, yes, sex. But now that you’re in a committed relationship, raising a family, and building good lives, you may notice that, at times, your sexual connection starts to falter and all but cease. This is an issue that all couples struggle with: keeping their sexual intimacy alive for the long haul. Sometimes, there are bumps in the road, but you may find that it takes a date on the calendar to ignite the passion that you first felt in your dating days.
It can be hard to admit that you and your partner are not clicking. It’s easy to blame it on being too tired, too busy, too involved with the kids, or telling yourself that you’re fine without the sex. But in reality, you feel that absence on your mind and it’s causing discomfort.
Knowing that your partner loves you, desires you, and is as committed as you are to keeping sex alive is something that you need — and he needs from you — for a deep feeling of wellbeing. Since maintaining this bond is a fairly universal challenge, and remains a challenge through everyone’s lifespan, there’s much thought and knowledge about how one can realistically keep the sexual connection alive.
So what’s to be done? The answer is hard to hear, at first. Spontaneity and waiting for passion to overtake you is apparently not something you can rely on these days. Instead, you must make a commitment to plan a time for sex and make sure that you follow through. Yes, a sex date seems cold and calculated compared to how you wish it could be, but this seems to be the only way to get the sex going again and keep it going.
In order for this to work, there are a few steps to follow:
Begin with a gentle talk about how you’re missing the lovemaking, and explain that you need to hear that your partner is, too. Talk about whether you’re both willing to do what’s necessary to resume your sex life.
If so, the next step is to have a somewhat theoretical conversation — no pressure — about what would be a frequency that both of you would feel comfortable with (at this point, weekly may seem to be a great start) and a mutually agreeable time for your sex date.
In this conversation, you also want to confirm if both of you are willing, until things are back on track, to do your part in keeping the topic and the outreach alive, and not leave all the responsibility to your partner.
As you continue on the path, and are committed to making sex happen, you will see that getting it going is a departure from your old dreams, as well. You’ve made the date, the time has come, you’re both lying there, and you don’t even feel emotionally or physically in the mood.
This is the time for a hero to emerge: one of you has to have the bravery to reach out for the other. And, it’s a commandment that if either has the courage to suggest a time, and at that time actually physically reaches out, the other will consider it a sacred obligation to be loving and receiving, because, as we know, one can feel very vulnerable — and can shut down — if one thinks her sexual outreach is being rejected.
Most amazingly (since you’re following the commandment), as you relax into your partner’s arms, and start nuzzling and kissing, you notice your resistance melting away and the emergence of pleasure and desire in your body.
The rest is history: the history of how this really does work. The passion does comes back, resulting in satisfaction, and best of all, in the days after, you feel affectionate toward your partner and notice that your mind is at peace. It’s comforting to know that, since you’ve seen it work, it’s a drop easier to make the next sex date and follow through. There’s no other way. Enjoy.
Dr. Joan Emerson is a New York psychologist who specializes in couples therapy. Visit her website at www.JoanEmerson.com.