Are you in a sexual rut with your spouse? Do you feel disconnected, undesirable, or just too busy or tired to have (or enjoy) sex?
Marriage is hard and life is busy. Understatement of the year, can I get an amen?
Tons of factors can creep in and disrupt a married couple’s sex life, such as:
- Kids (bless their hearts. We love them, but they sure do take it out of us!)
- Physical changes (weight gain, health issues, fatigue, lack of sleep, etc.)
- Stress (work, kids, household, finances, marriage or other relationship issues, etc.)
- Infertility (this can add an intense layer of stress around sex)
- And more
Many married couples get sucked into going through the motions of day to day life and begin to grow apart, losing the spark they once had. The truth is, it takes work to keep love and romance alive. But even if you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, don’t lose hope — it is possible to rekindle it!
Is sex even important?
Before we dive into the 6 Ways to Reignite Your Sexual Intimacy, we know there are people out there that will say “My relationship is fine as it is. We don’t need sex.” While it’s true that sex isn’t all there is to a marriage, years of research and in-depth study (not to mention centuries of human experiences) have shown that sexual intimacy is a very key component to a healthy marriage — and a healthy life!
So just because you’ve grown accustomed to a sexless marriage doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.
- Regular sex is linked to lower divorce rates
- Sex releases endorphins which increase happiness and build a stronger bond
- Orgasm releases oxytocin, which calms and strengthens intimacy
- Orgasm also releases prolactin, which improves sleep
- Sex reduces stress and improves moods
- Sex improves heart health and lowers blood pressure
- Sex improves self-esteem
- More frequent sex has been linked with improved cognitive function and growth of new brain cells
- Sex improves immune function
- Frequent sex is associated with lighter periods and less painful menstrual cramps in women
These are just some of the benefits associated with regular sexual intercourse. As you can see, sex is an important part of our function as human beings — and it’s also what sets marriage apart from other types of human relationships, making it a very special type of bond.
6 Ways to Reignite Your Sexual Intimacy
1. Prioritize emotional intimacy.
Emotional intimacy creates a deep level of safety and security that allows you to be fully yourself, faults and all, and to be vulnerable with your partner. Think of emotional intimacy as the foundation for a fulfilling sex life.
Couples who have a greater emotional connection have better sex — and vice versa. Here are a few ways you can prioritize your emotional intimacy:
- Spend quality time together, no distractions
- Ask open-ended, connecting questions (our book, 365 Connecting Questions for Couples, is a great resource!)
- Give your spouse compliments (try the 60-Second Blessing!)
- Initiate non-sexual touching and affection (hold hands, hug, cuddle, etc.)
2. Talk about it.
If you’ve never really talked about sex with your partner, or it’s been a while since you have, now’s the time. We know it’s uncomfortable at first, but don’t worry, it gets easier. And it pays dividends!
Ask your partner questions like: Where and how do you like to be touched? What helps get you in the mood? What turns you on? What’s your favorite position? What is something you’ve always wanted to try? When and where do you like to have sex? How often would you like to have sex? What can I do to make our sex life better?
Create a safe space for you and your spouse to discuss these questions. Listen without judgment, don’t take their answers personally, and make a plan going forward for ways to improve your sex life!
Note: If you think you could be experiencing issues like erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, vaginismus, anorgasmia (inability to have orgasm), etc., educate yourself and talk to your doctor or specialist about it. There are therapies available that may be able to help you! The anxiety and shame around these issues often worsen the conditions themselves, so empowering yourself and normalizing the conditions can be very beneficial.
3. Change it up.
Let’s face it: Most of us are creatures of habit. It’s so easy to get caught up in a routine, even with sex. Think about your typical sexcapades: time of day, location, style, position, duration, who initiates.
Get spontaneous. Heck, get kinky even. Shake things up a bit!
- Take turns initiating
- Try some new positions
- Have oral sex
- Use lubrication, a vibrator or other sex toys
- Act out a fantasy one of you has
- Have sex in different places (just don’t get arrested please)
- Vary your style of sex (gentle, intimate to highly erotic)
- Take your time!
This might sound like the opposite of being spontaneous, but if you know us, you know we’re big fans of scheduling sex. Does it take the spontaneity out of it? Heck no! It ensures that it happens. We bring spontaneity by the ways we keep things fun and interesting.
4. Set the mood.
When it comes to sexual intimacy, the environment matters. Studies have shown that creating a romantic ambience can actually help get you into the mood and improve intimacy. It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. Think of your five senses.
You’ll want a clean, uncluttered space that smells good and has nice lighting. Close the blinds, light a scented candle, put some sexy music on, remove technology from the area (aside from your music player), maybe run a warm bath, and have a comfortable space prepared for your sexy time.
Don’t forget to prep yourself physically! Don’t eat or drink too much. (Bloaty sex is never ideal.) Eat light, imbibe if you want, but not too much that you’ll be tired, and make sure your body parts are clean and well groomed.
5. It’s all about the foreplay.
One of the biggest mistakes couples make in the bedroom is skipping foreplay. You might think of foreplay as the optional appetizer before the meal, but we see it completely differently.
While quickies are sometimes necessary, they shouldn’t be the norm, and here’s why: Foreplay helps to build intimacy in and out of the bedroom. It also stimulates the body and leads to longer sex and better orgasms. The buildup of arousal during foreplay helps a woman’s body prepare for penetration by self-lubricating and elongating the vaginal canal. Women typically take longer to reach orgasm than men, so foreplay is an especially important component of sex.
Rather than thinking of foreplay as the optional pre-game snack, think of it as an integral part of the sexual experience.
6. Be present.
If you’ve fallen into a sexual rut, you might need to be reminded that this isn’t a sprint. Sex isn’t something to get through, it’s an intimate experience to enjoy with your partner.
Put aside all the stresses and worries of the day — kids, work, household responsibilities, finances, all of it. Focus only on your partner and yourself.
Note: This can be especially difficult for couples struggling with infertility, as sex when trying to conceive is often a high-pressure situation. Check out our course, Coping with Infertility as a Couple.
Don’t go into auto-pilot or zero in on getting to an orgasm. Be present and curious and enjoy the process. Explore and appreciate your partner’s body. Experience and savor all the sensations you’re feeling and don’t rush it. Even if it doesn’t end in an orgasm, sexual intimacy can still be extremely fulfilling and bring you and your spouse closer together.