It’s a common myth that if you’re in a healthy relationship, you should be having a lot of sex.
The problem is, this expectation puts the cart before the horse. A healthy couple is a couple that listens to each other, is present with each other, and is committed to learning about what makes their partner feel secure. If sex is the only priority, it opens the possibility for misunderstanding and hurt feelings, like when one partner feels that they aren’t being listened to or understood. The truth is, sex is a very vulnerable process that has the potential to bring out attachment issues, previous wounds, or any history of sexual trauma for either partner.
While sex is important in a relationship, it should be viewed as a natural outcome of intimacy, a delicate process of learning what brings you both pleasure. Therefore, one of the most important things when it comes to sex is being honest about how you feel, both physically and emotionally, and what you want. These feelings change day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year.
Having frequent conversations about your sex life, or about any good things or bad things that you are feeling as a result of changes to your sex life, is key to having a healthy sexual relationship with your partner.
Revision your sex life together
One reason why couples may not have as much sex as their relationship matures is because they don’t take the time to revise the definition of their sex life. As time goes on, aspects of a relationship change. Maybe there are now kids in the equation, or one partner has recently had a big career change, or one partner has started taking care of an elderly parent in a more full-time capacity. These types of changes can take a toll on one or both people in a relationship, and they cause people’s priorities to change. Therefore, there could be a myriad of reasons why a couple finds it difficult to prioritize intimacy.
In these cases, the couple may continue to adapt to the new circumstances and support each other, but fail to actually pause and say something like, “Hey, we’re not 20-somethings anymore. We have kids, we have new jobs, we don’t have the energy we once did. How has this affected our sex life?”
So what does it look like to have a visioning session where both parties sit down to talk about their sex life?
Honesty leads to a healthy sex life
Try asking your partner: how can we start making a more regular effort to do something sensual together? This doesn’t necessarily mean you are scheduling time for sex. For example, every Sunday morning you could make a point of spending one hour engaging physically in some way. Maybe this is a massage, or time spent just cuddling together. The purpose is to just be together and relish a sensual moment together. Then you can see where it goes from there.
Regardless of what you actually talk about, the most important part of this conversation is honesty. Both partners may operate under different perspectives about what’s happening for the other person. Each person may not fully understand each other’s perspective. One person may think, “he’s just not attracted to me anymore, because he’s not approaching me in sexual ways very often anymore”. But on the flip side, the other partner may feel something like, “It seems she doesn’t like when I approach her in this way, so for the moment I will wait until she makes the first move”.
Here, each partner is holding their own information about their perspective, but the other party isn’t privy to those internal thoughts. Therefore, the most important thing in this revisioning process is to sit down and confess these internal narratives that you’re holding about your sex life, so that the other person gets a window into how you’re feeling. It’s going to be uncomfortable, and it’s going to be awkward. But hopefully, you can hold the conversation with some lightness and some laughter as you confess your feelings, and your partner can fill in the blanks for you about how they perceive your relationship and your sex life.
Take time to understand your partner’s changing comfort level
Another reason why couples don’t have as much sex as their relationship goes on is because they don’t recognize the importance of slowing down and establishing safety in intimacy. They aren’t experts at knowing what it takes for the other person to feel safe, especially because this can change day-to-day. Each person in a relationship will want different things at times. You can support your partner’s process by helping them figure out what they want.
For example, to my wife it’s really important that we have eye contact, that we sit close face-to-face, and that we listen to each other. It’s a big part of our intimacy and sensuality, even when it’s unrelated to sex. In our relationship, we focus on being curious and asking questions to assess where we are at, with the goal of building this sense of safety so that my partner knows I will be receptive to any potential expression of discomfort, fear, or worry, and vice versa for her.
Other distractions make sex a lower priority
Another thing I see in a lot of relationships is that we get busy involving ourselves with other activities, such as exercising, taking care of the house, or raising children, that results in exhaustion and a distinct lack of the sensual, erotic aspect of oneself. Our sensual sides get pushed aside and neglected, simply because we have other, more important things to focus on. This is both natural and common – in fact, it’s basically a cultural norm.
It takes effort to get out of this pattern. You have to decide to put aside the other things so that your once-intimate and erotic life can be prioritized and restored. Like anything, if it’s neglected it won’t grow. The longer it remains neglected, the more effort it will take to rekindle it.
We must educate ourselves on what constitutes a healthy, satisfying sex life
Most of us were never taught how to have deeply satisfying sex lives. It’s something that’s seen as a taboo in some ways. Particularly in the Western world, we get a very limited amount of sex education in our youth. The education we do get tends to be ineffective and uncomfortable, because we don’t live in a society that encourages open conversation and exploration regarding how to have a mature, enjoyable, and safe sex life.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what this kind of relationship even looks like, and this misinformation leads to a lot of expectations and pressure that we put on ourselves in sexual relationships. This can become confusing and even overwhelming at times.
I invite you to try to simplify your perception of your sex life. The most important thing is that you are engaging in a curious, honest, and vulnerable conversation with your partner. To say to your partner, “I want to have a conversation about our sex life” can be scary. You have to trust that your partner is going to take it seriously, that they’ll come to the table with the same level of interest and dedication that you have. It requires self-acceptance, humility, and a shit ton of courage, but overall it’s just about being honest and listening and being willing to grow in this way. That’s the most important thing.
If you want help starting these types of conversations with your partner, reach out and book a free call.