One reason so many couples are stuck in sexually frustrating marriages? They're uncomfortable talking about sex, said Erica Marchand, a Los Angeles-based psychologist specializing in sex and couples therapy.
"It's usually a very present issue on both partners' minds, but they don't discuss it," she told The Huffington Post.
So how do you address your lackluster sex life and get back to getting busy? Below, Marchand and other sex experts share their best advice for couples unsatisfied with their sex lives.
1. Get to the heart of why you're rarely having sex.
Increased intimacy and a renewed spark come from being honest and not denying or ignoring your feelings, said Kristin Zeising, a San Diego-based psychologist and sex therapist. Ask yourself -- and your spouse -- what has been causing you to put on the brakes?
"When you clear the air, you have the space to feel like a sexual being again," she explained. "Is it because of longstanding anger or resentment? Underlying medical issues, like illness, hormonal changes or depression? Pressures of work or daily responsibilities? Expecting that sex will 'just happen' will take you down a path of continued sexual disconnect."
2. Stop making excuses.
We make excuses for everything in our lives, from not going to the gym all week, to skipping friends' birthdays. Don't make excuses for why you're not having sex with your spouse, said Shannon Chavez, a psychologist who specializes in sex and couples therapy in Los Angeles.
"You just have to start small and go big -- desire doesn’t start at an accelerated pace," she told HuffPost. "It may have in the past, but generally desire is more responsive than spontaneous. Take small steps toward being more sexual each and every day."
3. Put "sex dates" on your calendar.
It may sound supremely unsexy to schedule in sex, but doing so could lead you to having regular, non-scheduled sex, Marchand said.
"All my clients hate 'scheduling' sex, but really, with the busy lives we all lead, there are rarely opportunities for spontaneous sex," she said. "Consider scheduling a date and letting your partner know in advance that you'd like to be sexual. Then have a nice date -- even at home -- and transition to sexy time."
4. Make your spouse feel wanted outside the bedroom.
Part of feeling sexual desire is about feeling desired, Chavez said. To that end, find ways to feel connected, loving and sensual with your partner throughout the day: Send that sexy text in the middle of the work day. Wrap your arms around him when he's making dinner.
"You have to make a point to show your partner you want them," Chavez said. "Most of the time in sexless marriages, there is a communication breakdown or mixed messages."
5. Start with a massage and work up to sex.
After years in a relationship, simply touching each other in an intimate way can be a game changer, Zeising said.
"Decide with your partner to take sex off the table for a few weeks and engage in sensual touching exercises instead," she said. "This can help take the expectation and pressure off sex and allow you to relax so that you can once again enjoy physical intimacy and connection."
So what exactly does a "sexual touching exercise" entail?
"Give your partner loving, affectionate touches from head to toe," Zeising explained. "Take turns initiating the exercise at least once a week for 20 minutes and negotiate the pace that works for the both of you."
6. You may have to work at getting in the mood.
Not quite as turned on by your spouse as you used to be? That's OK, as long as you're willing to work on getting aroused, Marchand said.
"If you're not opposed to sex but just not in the mood, consider going along with the idea for the pleasure or the relationship benefits," she said. "Desire and arousal often follow from a conscious decision to engage in sex. It can be kind of like working out -- it feels good once you start."
7. Keep in mind that sex should be fun.
It might take some of the stress out of intimacy to remember that sex should, first and foremost, be fun, said Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex, And Kids: Stop Fighting About The Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. Stop stressing over orgasms and simply enjoy the moment with your spouse.
"Because of movies and TV, most couples have an exaggerated, stressful image of sex," she said. "Focus on having fun and realize that some sex encounters go well, some don't. Lighten up and spend more time giggling, talking and being silly during sex."
8. Risk stepping outside your comfort zone
It's easy to get stuck in a sexual rut with your spouse: always the same sex position, usually the same time of day. To move beyond the routine, Zeising tells couples to discuss sexual turn-ons they may have developed over time but never discussed.
"Think about all the sexual desires or fantasies you've kept to yourself because you’re embarrassed or fear how your S.O. will react," she said. "This is the time to tell them and let them know you’re open to what they're into, too, without any judgement. Sometimes, just talking about the turn-ons you’ve kept hidden for years can bring new excitement to the relationship."