Rev Up Your Sex Life
Where's the Spice Gone?
When my husband and I first started dating, we were so hot for each other that nothing got in the way of our urge to be together. It didn't matter how busy we were at work, how many errands we needed to accomplish, how many family or social obligations we had. If the time was right, we were together. And the time was nearly always right. I remember returning to his apartment after a wedding. It was very late, we were very tired -- but we still had our clothes nearly all the way off before we'd even gotten fully in the door. It was unspoken, delicious, and very spontaneous.
Fast forward several years. We got married. We had a son. We still have sex, to be sure, but it's just not as ... spontaneous as it once was. A typical conversation: "We should really have sex sometime this weekend." "Hmm, yes, you're right." Like most long-term couples, we're sometimes left wondering if the spark of early-relationship sex is gone forever.
The bad news: Yes, it is. The good news: If you maintain the right attitude, sex can get better in the years to come. But first, a look at why couples together for a long time go through such a shift.
Back when you two first fell in love, you experienced chemical changes in your body that you felt as lust. In that period, just thinking about your beloved counted as foreplay. But when that initial intensity fades, as it inevitably does, some couples feel betrayed by their own bodies. One or both of the partners, not feeling as instantaneously turned on, initiate sex less often, or gradually stop having sex altogether. They've fallen into the trap of believing that supercharged sex is the only good sex. "We have outsized notions of what a 'good' sex life should look and feel like," agrees Aline Zoldbrod, PhD, a certified sex therapist in Lexington, Massachusetts, and author of Sex Talk: Uncensored Exercises for Exploring What Really Turns You On (New Harbinger, 2002).
"We expect that the effortless arousal we used to feel will continue until we are old and gray." It's not just a woman thing, either. Both husbands and wives, says Zoldbrod, feel sad when they find that foreplay takes forethought. When they have to start thinking about or scheduling sex, "they interpret this to mean that they are not attracted to their spouse anymore -- and not attractive to their spouse anymore." But in the majority of cases, that could not be further from the truth.
Other factors play into the problem too. When you were first together, your sweetheart could do no wrong. But once you've been in the relationship for a while, the rose-colored glasses come off, little annoyances escalate, and larger resentments may set in and fester. "Over the years," says Zoldbrod, "partners inevitably end up hurting one another. And anger and hurt feelings tend to suppress sexual feelings, particularly for women." Throw in the hormonal shifts and sleep deprivation women experience after childbirth, and sex takes yet another hit.