When was the last time you ‘did the deed’ in bed? Can’t remember – or don’t want to – and definitely don’t want to talk about it?
This is for you.
If you’ve been erotically exiled or decided to forsake your partner along with all others, it’s hard to know where to start to fix it all.
Here’s eight easy steps that will rescue the sorriest sex life. It’s worked well for lots of couples I’ve counselled over the years, so may just work for you too!
Getting back in the mood: Relationship expert Tracey Cox shares her eight fail-safe tips for rekindling your sex life, no matter how sorry a state it is in. Stock image
Step one: Confront the problem
Force yourselves to talk about what’s going on
You can’t shut couples up talking about sex when it’s going great, then when you really need to talk – when problems hit – you’re both quieter than a three-year-old discovering their Mum’s make-up stash.
Hurt, tense, anxious – talking under these circumstances isn’t fun but talk you must.
Approach it as a couple problem that’s no-one’s fault
Both of you are hurt and no-one’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
The person who wants sex more isn’t ‘sexier’ or ‘better’. The person who wants sex less isn’t ‘frigid’ or the one with ‘the problem’.
If there’s a desire mismatch, one of you feels rejected, the other feels pressured and hassled. It doesn’t feel great on either side.
Stop blaming and start working as a team.
Don’t blame: Couples must not think of one as ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’. Stock image
Step two: Set realistic aims together
Look after your needs solo
Your partner’s not a robot that you can program to always feel like sex when you do. If only.
Sexual frustration turns us into grumps so get busy with that hand guys. If you’re a woman and don’t have a good vibrator (really?), go online now and buy one.
Use it often until the problem’s solved.
Talk about what you’d like to do in future sex sessions
Don’t just talk about how often you’d like sex, talk about what you most like and least like, focusing more on the positives than negatives
How could you improve things that aren’t working? Be specific about what you need and want.
Talk about when you did have great sex. What made it work when it worked? What did you both do differently back then?
Don’t expect it to be solved overnight
After the first honest chat, couples often feel so liberated, uplifted and relieved, it feels like everything is fixed already – just by talking!
Don’t get me wrong, you’ve just tackled the hardest part – admitting there’s a problem – but there’s still a little way to go before you start to see real results in the bedroom.
Don’t give each other the ‘leftovers’
Sexual boredom is a given in marriage, says David Schnarch, a top US sex therapist.
He says lots of couples end up doing the ‘leftovers’: ‘Whatever is left over when he says he’s not comfortable doing that and she says she isn’t comfortable doing the other.’
Depressing or what!
What do you fancy? Making a meal, night after night, out of scraps or putting a bit of effort in and turning raw ingredients into a glorious feast?
Step three: Get fit for sex
Exercise boosts libido levels, makes you feel and look better and also gets you ‘unstuck’ in other ways.
If you want to change someone’s mind in an argument, get them to move from whatever position they’re in. Changing position opens them to new ideas.
Same applies to your relationship.
Get off the sofa and go for a walk together rather than watch that box set.
Get a medical
Tackle any chronic conditions that interfere with sex.
Migraines, back pain, a dodgy knee – see what can be done to ease the symptoms.
Any sexual problems like erection difficulties, vaginal dryness, painful sex – your doctor can help with those too, or refer you to a specialist. Take all the medication you regularly take into the doctor with you and ask if they could be affecting your sex drive.
Anti-depressants, blood pressure pills, the contraceptive pill are all culprits. Ask for alternatives.
Step four: Go out
Go out with friends together
Desire feeds on newness and seeing your partner in the company of others makes us see them through fresh eyes.
And don’t stick to the same old group of friends, mix it up! Say yes to any invitation that exposes you to different people and things.
Don’t be freaked if your partner seems ‘different’ in different situations. This is a good thing!
We try to turn our partners into someone who won’t surprise us because surprises make us feel insecure. The downside: you’re safe but bored senseless.
Step five: Do exciting things
Do shocking things that get the old heart thudding. It is possible to shock your brain into falling back into lust.
Any type of adrenalin boosting activity drives up the dopamine level in your brain, making you feel lustier and more in love.
Do anything that slightly freaks you out – ride a pushbike through traffic, kick-box, play fight, jump on a roller coaster, wear your hot pink skyscraper wedges to the office.
Apply the same rule to sex: if doggy style seems terribly risqué, that’ll do it for you.
So will giving your partner oral sex as he leans out the upper storey window to chat to the neighbours, leaving you hidden from view.
Step six: Act on a mere flicker of lust
You sort of wouldn’t mind if you had sex?
Don’t just ponder the thought, pounce on it – and do it as soon as you can!
Studies show the more time that passes between having an idea and following up on it, the more likely you are to lose motivation.
I’m not saying you should burst into your partner’s work place and drag him out, but don’t let things like dishes or the meal being ready or ‘I’ll just answer that email first’ get in the way.
Think of your sex life as a bank account:
You need to make regular deposits to keep the balance healthy.
If you’ve just come back from a pleasant little shagathon in the Greek Islands (kids happily tucked up at grandma’s), the balance is nicely topped up.
Saying ‘No’ the night you get back isn’t going to cause problems.
But if you haven’t made a deposit for six weeks or more, that balance is getting dangerously low.
Don’t feel bad about faking desire
It’s childish to expect both of you to always be gagging for it simultaneously and numerous studies show lots of us warm up once we get going.
Step seven: Be the one to make the first move
Whoever wants sex the least, needs to be the one instigating sex
The low desire person sets the frequency because it’s only when they give the thumbs up that sex happens.
If this is you, turn the tables to be the one who suggests sex, rather than rejects it and watch the dynamics change dramatically.
Being the one to want sex, the one asking for it, instantly makes you feel sexier, more powerful, in charge.
Help each other get in the mood
Tune in to when you both most feel like it. After a good night out and a few drinks? After a good chat and a movie?
Be honest and say what you need.
Keep it light and say, ‘If you pour me a big glass of wine and massage my shoulders, I’ll be a much surer thing’.
Get yourself in the mood: put on sexy underwear, run a tried-and-tried fantasy in your head, read a sexy book.
Do what made you feel sexy the last time around. This sends a signal to your brain ‘She’s going to have sex again’, triggering the right physical responses.
Step eight: Change the way you have sex
The longer you’re together, the more ‘efficient’ you’ll be sexually
Sex becomes business-like and brief. You know each other’s triggers and buttons to push and press them accordingly.
Blindfolded, most of us could pick our partners within three minutes.
We all have a certain style of kissing, a certain way of using our hands, tongues and fingers, a certain way of thrusting and moving our hips. Repetition dulls desire.
Go onto my website (traceycox.com) and you’ll find lots of blogs on new oral or hand-job techniques to try. Each choose a few and try them out.
Take turns to come up with new things you want to try each time you have sex.
Slow down and take your time
Yes, you both know what’s going to ultimately going to push each other over the finish line but deliberately steer away from it.
Rediscover places like the neck. Remember how good it felt when you got kissed or bitten there? Stroke each other’s backs and thighs.
Don’t rush to the finish line.