Over the years I see more and more couples where one partner complains about the frequency of their sex life or about having no sex at all for long periods.
The first thing that needs to be done is to uncover their sexual history. How long have they been together, how did they meet, what was their sex life like at the start of their relationship and when did things change?
They usually remember the first years as the best time. This phase of a relationship is called limerence -- a word coined by American psychologist Dorothy Tennov -- which is defined as the "falling in love and lust stage". Limerence is driven by the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine, in combination with dopamine and norepinephrine, and creates pleasing positive feelings between people.
These so-called love chemicals can prompt euphoria, increased energy and sexual desire. They are responsible for intense passion and the rose-coloured glasses we see our partners through. Limerence feels good, but unfortunately it only lasts from about six months to two or three years and its decline is gradual.
My clients often say they just don't have the time and by the end of the day they are exhausted. I explain that sex doesn't just mysteriously happen.
This decline often coincides with couples becoming more domestic, living together 24/7, often working long hours and, for some, starting a family. But just because the limerence phase is over does not mean that the great sex you used to have has gone. You just need to find time and ways to keep your relationship exciting.
My clients often say they just don't have the time and by the end of the day they are exhausted. I explain that sex doesn't just mysteriously happen; if they want to have good sex, they have to create the time and space to get in the mood and look forward to it. The best way is to plan or schedule it, and while that doesn't sound very romantic, it can introduce anticipation and excitement knowing it's "in the diary".
We plan everything else in our lives! We don't just plan everyday household needs and tasks, we also plan other activities for our enjoyment. When you plan a beautiful dinner, you have to work out what to buy and cook. When you go on a holiday, you have to decide when, what destination and what hotels to book. These activities involve anticipation, which is part of the fun. So why should planning to have sex be different?
Women often tell me they have to be in the mood, they have to feel sexual and "it should just happen". I point out that they may be waiting a long time because to feel sexual and want sex calls for anticipation and mental foreplay. I remind them of the early days when they were dating, when they would wash the sheets, shave their legs and wear sexy underwear to make sure they looked good, just in case. Wasn't that also some sort of planning?
Suggesting to have sex is an invitation to connect with your partner. Women often say: "I was really tired and didn't feel like it, but when I decided to have sex because I felt guilty, I actually really enjoyed it and was happy I instigated it."
You just have to make time for sex and make it important. What about the often-ridiculous amount of time many people spend on social media, checking Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for hours?
Getting in the mood for sex is usually a lot easier for men -- they don't need to be very excited and can choose to make love for reasons other than strong desire. For women it's different -- they need some time to become turned on.
You just have to make time for sex and make it important. What about the often-ridiculous amount of time many people spend on social media, checking Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for hours? This is another important issue couples complain about -- no time for intimacy, no time to talk to each other and sex has gone on the backburner.
There are many ways to find time to have sex, and if you are still hesitating about the idea of planned sex, consider these simple suggestions:
Determine which time of day you prefer to have sex. It doesn't have to be at the end of the evening when you go to bed and both of you are exhausted. It needn't be in the bedroom either -- use your imagination. When was the last time you had fun during sex?
Sex early in the morning doesn't do it for everyone, but why not give it a try and set your alarm half an hour earlier. Or plan to have sex during the day or on the weekend when it may be easier for parents to have the children looked after for a while.
Childless couples should decide what's more important on Saturday or Sunday mornings: the jog, the gym -- or sex.
Finally, try to make foreplay important. Send sexy messages, give your partner more compliments, show your desire, and do more kissing, touching or hugging.
Remember the limerence days and just do it!
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