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 of Australia’s leading sex therapists share their ideas on how to give your sexual relationship a helping hand.
Clear the air
“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 repair 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!”
– Tanya Koens, sex therapist, Surry Hills Therapy, Sydney
Be realistic and aim for the 20:60:20 ratio
“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
Be responsible for your own sexual pleasure
“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 to 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!”
– Jocelyn Klug
Remember that sex starts well before the sexual act starts
“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
Play the three-minute game
“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 to 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.”
– Tanya Koens