In Part 1, I discussed ways to heat up a relationship outside of the bedroom. By investing in spontaneity, getting personal with gifts and telling your love story loudly and often, you can avoid many of the more lethal causes of slow relationship death; especially boredom. However, boredom is just one consequence of relationship burnout: another is infidelity. A 2001 study published in The Journal of Family Psychology found the number of cheaters inthe United States at between 20 and 25 percent of all married people. The authors admitted their estimates were probably conservative. While most relationships begin with a bang (literally), before most couples realize it, life has intervened. Unfortunately, those once-supercharged libidos are among the first things to flame out. Jobs, mortgages and kids begin to take away from quality lovemaking opportunities until one or both partners are begging for mercy instead of begging for more. Pretending that sex doesn’t matter as much in a relationship as those other things can be a big mistake. At some point in a relationship—often when things are at their bleakest sexually—temptation and opportunity will cross paths. “All married people have to grapple with temptation in their own way, run their own cost-benefit analysis to come up with the reasons why or why not,” says Kyran Pittman, author of Planting Dandelions. If you don’t want to end up as just another statistic, there’s no time like the present to put your relationship in the tumbler and give your sex life a good shaking up.
Behave Like Adults (In the Best Sense)
If you have kids you know how easy it is to get caught up in childish things. Dirty diapers, bedtime stories and play dates replace adult conversation, lazy Sunday mornings and midafternoon romps. It’s often easy to forget that the sweat pant-wearing, tousle-haired person across the table from you was once the object of your desire. “It’s important for each partner to maintain balance between their three roles: themselves as individuals, as partners who comprise a couple and as parents,” says Renee Haas, marriage and family therapist. She suggests regular time away as a couple with no talk of kids. Other adult ways to get your sex drive back include teasing each other (in the erotic sense), pretending you just met (seeing your spouse through someone else’s eyes) and using technology to stay connected throughout the day (think sexting).
Fake It Till You Make It
Like a lot of couples, writer Joe Mills and his wife Lily had mismatched libidos. “I would have sex most days given the opportunity. Lily is more of a lazy Sunday morning kind of woman,” says Mills, adding, “and not every Sunday at that.” After one particularly long dry spell that lasted 12 weeks, Joe (not his real name) struck on an idea. What if he could get Lily to agree to 100 straight days of sex (the exact amount of time their drought lasted) under the auspices of writing about it later? For the sake of his career—and their relationship—she played along. “The person with the lower libido sets the pace and I didn’t want to feel like I was pressuring Lily into sex out of obligation,” says Mills. The couple initiated the help of a relationship counselor, a sex therapist and even a biological anthropologist to help them with their plan. Even though it wasn’t always easy, the couple did it—sex every single day for 100 straight days! “Are we still having sex every day? No,” says Mills after the experiment, “but we have met in the middle in terms of our libidos.” He says it has taken what was a good relationship to an entirely new level.
Open It Up
“If you are expected to be monogamous and have one person be all things sexually for you, then you have to be whores for each other,” says America’s leading sex advice columnist Dan Savage. If you’re not willing (or able) to fulfill your partner’s sexual needs, there is another option: open the relationship up to the occasional fling. Savage, who coined the term “monogamish” to describe such an arrangement, argues that if you consider the rates of infidelity, someone who has only a handful of affairs over the course of a decades-long relationship is actually good at monogamy, not bad at it. “People…need to understand why being monogamous is so much harder than they’ve been led to believe it will be,” he says. He acknowledges that non-monogamy is not for everyone. However, for those couples with a solid foundation and good communication skills being monogamish can be just the ticket to keep life interesting and can even spice things up at home.
Try These DiscoveryGames – discover yourself and your partner on a sexual, emotional and intellectual level and have fun while doing it.
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