From staying in the moment to clearing the air, there are many things you can do to maintain a satisfying sex life, or to help rekindle a lacklustre love life. Here, some leading therapists share their ideas on how to give your sexual relationship a helping hand.
“So many people worry about the ageing of their body, or about their weight or size or shape and they forget that their body is a source of great pleasure. One minute you are having sex and having a lovely time and then your mind takes over and you think, ‘What if he touches my cellulite’ or ‘What if he notices this or that bit of my body?’
Remain totally in the moment and experience the physical sensations during sex, rather than judging and being a spectator. Have a conversation in your head along the lines of ‘It feels really great when he touches me there, I really like that part of his body, he looks hot from this angle, I love the way he smells…’
Focusing on the senses puts you in the here and now. And remember that anyone who is lucky enough to get naked with you is not running a judgment conversation in their head about cellulite or your belly – they are thinking about how good it feels to be with you.”
– Tanya Koens, sex therapist, Surry Hills Therapy, Sydney
“If your sexual experience is very good 20 per cent of the time, and good for 40 to 60 per cent, you’re doing well. Don’t worry about the remaining 20 per cent because you can’t expect a perfect performance every time.
Not every sexual experience will be mind-blowing. You don’t need to orgasm every time either. Instead, think about the other benefits of sex, such as it making you feel closer and more connected to your partner. And don’t think that everyone around you is having lots of sex. They aren’t!”
– Jocelyn Klug, sexologist and relationship therapist, Brisbane
“Sex can start with a conversation but it goes beyond that. It begins with incidental intimacy – the little things people think are non-sexual. People think sex starts with kissing or touching, but it starts with what you’ve been doing for each other for the past 24 hours, the past few days, week or month.
Small things matter – a kiss, a hug, holding hands while watching TV, rubbing your partner’s shoulders. Those small acts build up to mean something bigger. So, think about what small things you’ve done lately that would encourage your partner to want to have sex with you.”
– Dr Christopher Fox, sex therapist, Sex Life Therapy, Melbourne
“Don’t think you should try something new because you think everyone else is trying new things – that’s rubbish. There are lots of people having cuddly sex, doing the things they know and love and having a great time. But every now and then if you want to, try what I call ‘hotel room sex’ – go away for a weekend, use fluffy handcuffs, play strip poker or watch a sexy movie together.
Read things online about different sexual positions and techniques, or learn how to kiss or touch differently. You and your partner can write a list of what you’d like to try, put those ideas in a suggestion box, pull things out of the box one at a time and try what you are both comfortable with.”
“Both people in a relationship are responsible for their own sexual pleasure. Sometimes one of you can think it’s the other person’s responsibility to initiate sex or give pleasure, perhaps because of the myth that nice girls don’t initiate sex.
Take responsibility for initiating and creating your own pleasure and find your sexual voice to say what you like and want. And remember, if you wait for the spontaneous desire for sex that you may have had in the beginning of the relationship, you might be waiting until the cows come home!”
“Try and resolve arguments quickly because anger and resentment can kill passion. If your partner is hurt about something you did or didn’t do, say ‘Yes, you’re right. I did that.’ It stops arguments quickly because you validate your partner by recognising they are upset.
And if you are the angry one, look out for when your partner makes a real attempt – they may make a joke or a comment about something routine. It will be something small but it is an attempt to connect. But if you’re angry and roll your eyes and block the repair attempt, that will affect sex. Your partner will think, if you’ve just been rolling your eyes at me, I won’t want to have sex with you; I won’t feel that generous!”
“Open and honest conversation creates intimacy but listening is equally important. People forget to listen to each other. Your partner may be talking about something and in your head you are thinking about work, children, what you have to do next.
When your partner talks, don’t have those other conversations in your head. Or if your partner starts to tell you something, don’t break in and tell them what you think they’re going to say. Listen and show you’ve heard what they said because listening builds rapport, trust and intimacy.”
“For three minutes at a time, each take it in turns to ask what you’d like from your partner in terms of touching and intimacy. It makes you braver about saying what you want and like, and that makes sex more satisfying for both of you. Perhaps you’d like your partner to stroke your hair or rub your back. Or maybe you’d like something more sexual.
People don’t ask for the kind of touch they don’t want, so it also lets you know what your partner wants and your partner finds out what kind of sexual touch you enjoy.”
“Trying to have sex at night is possibly the worst time because our bodies want to wind down. Decide on a time together when you can have sex without feeling tired and rushed so you can prepare yourself and get in the mood.
Suggest that if neither of you have anything happening on Friday evening or Saturday morning, what about you spend time together? You can both get in the right frame of mind and look forward to that time. And plan sex for times when you know the children aren’t going to be around, visitors aren’t likely to knock on the door and you don’t have to rush off to work.”
Text: Bauer syndication