Many couples struggle with the problem of desire fading as the years of marriage pass. They miss the times when oxytocin (the love hormone) was bubbling in their veins and made them euphoric and excited. Is it possible to regain at least some of those emotions and enjoy them in a long-term relationship? Yes, if we ensure that intimacy and closeness are present in our everyday life together. Couples who take care of the emotional part of their life together are more likely to enjoy a successful sex life. How can this be done? The focus should be on satisfying your partner’s needs, while communicating your own needs. The way we do this is important – it should be loving and respectful of the other person. Small, everyday gestures of tenderness such as kissing, hugging and holding hands are also important.
10 tips on how to restore passion in marriage
The Gottman Institute website offers 10 tips for couples who want to restore passion in their relationship:
Change your pattern of initiating sex – avoid criticising each other and stop the “blame game”. Those who distance themselves from sex may want to be able to initiate intimacy more often, and those who are dominant in this sphere may look for more subtle ways to tell their partner that they are sexy, while avoiding criticism and demands for intimacy.
Hold hands more often – according to author Dr Kory Floyd, holding hands, cuddling and touching can release oxytocin, causing reassurance. Studies show that this hormone is also released during orgasm. In addition, physical proximity reduces stress hormones – lowering cortisol levels.
Allow tension to build up – our brains experience more pleasure when the anticipation of reward lasts for a while. Not rushing through foreplay, sharing fantasies, surprising each other, will make sex more romantic and satisfying.
Separate intimacy from routine – plan intimacy time together and avoid talking about relationship problems or household chores at that time. Sexual arousal drops sharply when we are distracted and stressed.
Find time to spend just with your partner – try a variety of activities that bring you both pleasure. Play with courtship and practice flirting as a way to ignite sexual desire and intimacy. Dr Gottman says that “everything you do positively in your relationship is foreplay”.
Focus on tender touch – give each other a back or neck massage. Tender touch is a powerful way to demonstrate and re-ignite passion.
Practice being more emotionally vulnerable during sex – share your innermost fantasies and desires with your partner. If you are afraid of emotional intimacy, consider engaging in individual or couples therapy.
Keep a sense of curiosity about sexual intimacy – experiment with new ways of pleasing each other. Look at sex as an opportunity to get to know your partner better.
Add variety to existing sex – have both gentle, tender, intimate and highly erotic sex. Break the routine and try new things as your sexual needs change.
Make sex a priority – turn off the TV and the work computer and create a mood of intimacy. A light meal paired with your favourite music and wine can set you up for great sex.