It's a question that many women have at one time or another during the course of a long-term relationship: Where did the passion go? Can I get it back, or does my lackluster sex life mean that I'm with the wrong person?
Happily you can restore the passion, but it won't be like it was in the beginning — and you have to work at it, says sex therapist Laura Berman.
But first, how do so many of us arrive at this passionless state?
The daily grind can play a big role in derailing our sexual interest in our partner. "Stress, anxiety, depression, whatever it is — can really affect how you respond sexually," says Jennifer Berman, a urologist and expert along with her sister Laura in women's sexual health.
But nature plays a role, too. The truth is, says Laura, "your libido is never going to be like when you first met — when you were in the "infatuation" stage. Our bodies can't sustain infatuation. We'd never get anything done if we lived in that stage all the time. It's nature's way of moving us into a better, more functional place called the "attachment" stage — "a sweeter, calmer kind of phase that some people confuse with infatuation."
When Sexual Problems Arise
It's during this phase that a couple's sexual problems often arise, notes Laura. "When you move into this phase, people assume that sex should always be spontaneous and you should always have that driving, crazy urge like you did in the beginning," she explains. "But you have to actually produce that and it feels very unspontaneous and very strange at first. But if it becomes a habit, it really can help to spice things up. Sometimes it's a matter of actually inserting some of the spontaneity in it and taking control."
By taking control, will you soar to the heights of passion again? Not necessarily, but there are many things you can do to reconnect with your partner which "certainly drives the sexual interest," says Laura.
Ways to Revive Your Love Life
Here are ten ways Laura recommends to kick-start your life love:
- Take time with each other, separate from kids and work, where kids and work are not discussed.
- Plan a weekly date — whether it's going out to dinner or talking a walk. Don't go out to the movies or someplace where you're not going to talk or look at each other the entire night.
- If you can't afford a babysitter, go out on the porch and have a glass of wine together after the kids go to sleep, or go out by yourself.
- Do interesting and exciting things together. In a study of three couple groups, those who engaged in activities like bungee jumping and white-water rafting had the greatest improvement in intimacy, connection and sexual interest, Laura notes. "No one else in their day-to-day-life was really a part of the activity, so it sort of bonded them together more."
- Take time for yourself every day. While this can be tough with hectic schedules, jobs and kids, even 10 to 15 minutes a day can help reduce your stress and give you more energy for your partner. What's more, says Laura, "it's really hard to go out and go bungee jumping if you've neglected your own life. It's important to keep your own energy going. The more connected to who you are, the less you get lost in the daily grind, which pulls you away from your partner. And the more sensual and the more connected to yourself you are, the more available you are for your partner. I think it's really tough when one partner stays really connected with themselves and the other is still lost. Both partners really need to make a commitment to do that."
- Ask your partner to take the kids a couple of afternoons a week while you read, take a bath, meditate or exercise.
- Dress yourself up and hand your partner the keys to a hotel room.
- Be physical with one another without expecting sex to be the outcome — cuddle, hold hands, touch one another.
- Experiment with different sexual positions.
- Do something you've always wanted to do like take a yoga class.