Where do you start when it’s been weeks, or months, since anything has happened in the bedroom?
It’s the secret worry so many of us carry: how to get the passion back in our relationship.
Perhaps things slowed down in the bedroom once the baby came along, but then weeks, months, even years passed, and it just hasn’t heated up again. You’re tired, he’s stressed, the kids wake up at all times – and… it’s just not there.
But this part of our lives matters.
As whole and passionate women, we must have every part of our lives thriving again if we are going to feel complete. Sex matters. Passion is important. And when it comes to a long-term relationship, finding a way back to each other physically can be the spark you need to begin the next season of your time together.
So, how do you do that? Especially when it’s been so long it almost feels like you’re back to the beginning again?
Here, our Sexologist and Relationship contributor Isiah McKimmie shares how to start when it’s been so long.
Sexual intimacy just doesn’t seem to happen anymore.
Perhaps it’s been a month?
A few months?
Or maybe even a couple of years?
It’s more common than most of us realise.
We tend to think everyone else has a great relationship and sex life. We can think that there’s something wrong with us because we’re the only ones not doing it – or arguing about it.
But, you’re not alone.
Sometimes sex stops suddenly. There’s an event, a turning point of some kind and that’s it.
Other couples notice a slow decline, until they can perhaps count on one hand the number of times it’s happened this year.
And there is counting. Because it’s always in the back of your mind – even though you try not to think about it.
Sometimes you think it’s when you had kids, but while that certainly didn’t help things, you probably noticed a decline before then.
Maybe you wish you could just understand why it happened. Hoping that will solve things.
The truth is, there are many reasons why sex stops – and it’s often a complex mix of things.
What’s really important to know is it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
Perhaps you’ve been wishing this will just ‘fix’ itself, or wished that you could just get on with your relationship without sex.
Maybe you build yourself up, telling yourself ‘I know I need to do something about this – tonight’s the night.’ But then you forget or feel too nervous or just don’t feel in the mood anymore.
The longer you go without it, the more awkward and uncomfortable it can feel.
You remember a time when you loved making love, when you felt passionate urgency between you. But that feels so far away now.
You wish you could just want to ‘want to’ again.
But you don’t know how or where to start. And it seems like all the sex advice in the world can’t get you over that first hurdle.
Well my love, this is for you.
In this post, I’m sharing the first steps for reigniting desire and being intimate with a partner again – even if you haven’t had sex in months or even years.
There’s something I want to say about desire first though, because changing the way we understand desire can make a huge difference to your journey.
We tend to have an expectation that desire is spontaneous – that it will just arise spontaneously. And that’s our cue to then be intimate with a partner. We can think that ‘feeling in the mood’ is a pre-requisite for starting intimacy.
Science is now understanding that our sexual desire is actually responsive. That is, it arises in response to stimuli.
What this means is that we need to cultivate the conditions in which desire can respond. And for women, this begins long before we enter the bedroom. So that’s where we start. We want to build the house of our desire on a strong foundation.
Here’s how you can begin rebuilding your sexual intimacy…
Decide that sexual intimacy is important to you
You’re going to make change on this fastest if you feel like this is important to you.
Research shows us that there are two key things that keep passion in a relationship. The first is staying god friends, the other is making sex a priority.
While sex might not seem important to you at the moment, if it’s important to your partner, it’s important to you relationship.
And the truth is, sex really can bring you closer because of the beautiful cocktail of hormones and endorphins that sex helps you release. One of the key hormones released during sex is oxytocin, which helps you feel bonded and connected to each other.
So decide that having a loving, fulfilling sex life is important to you and your relationship. This mindset will help you stay motivated and taking action.
Share appreciation with your partner
When we’re not having sex, our partner can end up feeling unloved and undesired – contributing to increased tension.
When there’s tension in a relationship, we can find ourselves focusing on the things that annoy us about our partner and the relationship.
And that doesn’t lead to us feeling sexy.
Sharing appreciation with our partner can help them to feel loved, appreciated and wanted. It can help your partner understand that your lack of desire isn’t a lack of love for them and contribute to more harmony and ease between you.
When you focus on the things you appreciate about your partner, you’ll feel more open and loving towards them.
Make a point of sharing something that you appreciate about your partner with them each day to build the love, connection and closeness between you.
Spend quality time together
If you’ve stopped having sex, it’s likely you feel disconnected to your partner on a couple of levels.
Perhaps you just don’t spend as much time together (or any) as you used to. With so much going on in your lives, you can feel like two ships passing in the night.
You might feel like you’re missing the emotional intimacy that helps you feel close to your partner. Maybe you only connect on practical issues now, not as lovers like you used to.
Becoming close to your partner again requires that you spend time together. It’s important to make it a priority. This connection can then flow into the bedroom.
Small amounts of quality time together can make a world of difference to your connection.
Try starting with just 10 minutes a day where you sit down uninterrupted and just talk about how your day was.
Start with non-sexual physical touch
When you’ve stopped having sex, you may have found that physical touch gets avoided completely.
Maybe you pull away from affection because you don’t want to give your partner the ‘wrong idea’.
Perhaps you’ve stopped kissing passionately too.
We want to get that back. And we do it one small step at a time.
Physical affection helps build oxytocin, that hormone that helps you feel bonded and connected to each other. Oxytocin is also an important contributor to women’s lubrication and arousal.
Begin bringing non-sexual touch back into your relationship to build closeness and desire.
Don’t put pressure on yourself for it to ‘lead anywhere’. It may help for you to have a conversation with a partner about it.
You might say something like:
‘I really miss being physically intimate with you, but I need us to take this one step at a time. I’d like to hug you more, but I’m not ready for it to lead to sex at this stage. Is that okay with you?’
Try some of the following suggestions to rebuild physical connection:
- When you next kiss goodbye, kiss on the lips… and linger a little longer than usual.
- Hug your partner for no reason at all.
- Snuggle up to your partner while you’re watching TV together.
- Offer your partner a massage.
- Invite them to the shower or bath with you.
Reestablishing your connection will be easier with support
Starting again when your sex life has been in decline isn’t easy, but it is possible.
Often, taking the first step is the hardest.
I want you to know you don’t need to do it alone.
Isiah McKimmie is a Couples Therapist and Sexologist who has been helping couples reconnect and reignite intimacy for over 7 years. She is currently offering a free ebook to Happy Mama readers: How to Rediscover your Spark and Reignite Desire.