If you've been with your partner for a long time, chances are high that you're not having sex like you used to. (It's no secret that the gotta-have-you-right-now passion naturally levels off after a while.) But that doesn't mean you still can't have a rich, satisfying sex life.
Sex and relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh says it all starts with getting real about what you need to feel sexually fulfilled.
UNDERSTAND WHAT'S NORMAL
According to popular culture, normal couples should be having sex 24/7—but Walsh says this idea is both inaccurate and unhealthy. "The message to couples is that everybody should be having hot, swinging-from-the-chandelier sex for as long as possible, or there's something wrong with your relationship," she says. "The first thing you should know is that no relationship on the planet is supposed to be hot sexually for longer than a couple years."
When it comes to sexual frequency, what is considered normal? According to Walsh, passion is naturally dialed up at the beginning of the relationship in order to promote bonding and procreation. But over time, both partners tend to experience a decline in desire. The good news is that there are other ways to maintain the bond.
"Research has shown that frequency of kissing—more than frequency of sex—is connected to more relationship well-being, happiness and longevity," says Walsh. "It's really about the affection, and it's about the kissing more than it's about the actual sex."
In other words, cuddling up together on the couch with your favorite TV show is a great way to keep the intimacy alive; despite what popular culture might have you believe.
OPEN THE LINES OF SEXUAL COMMUNICATION
Just like the other areas of your relationship (finances, child-rearing, etc.), communication is a vital ingredient for sexual satisfaction. "It isn't whining or begging for sex; it's about talking very rationally about your needs and figuring out a way to connect in a physical way," says Walsh.
For example, she says that most women need a good bit of sexual novelty to get their engines going. This can be as simple as a new pair of sexy underwear or getting busy in a different room of the house. Opening up with your partner about things you'd like to try that you're both comfortable with is key.
"When a woman does not get enough sexual novelty, her sex drive shuts down," says Walsh.
She adds that when people have been together for a long time, they almost get to know each other's bodies too well. In other words, they use the same go-to moves and positions to get the job done. This is a surefire way to extinguish sexual excitement. Instead, get talking about ways to keep novelty alive and well.
SCHEDULE TIME FOR SEX
It may not sound super sexy, but putting sex on the calendar is a genius idea for long-term couples. According to Walsh, if you sit around waiting for sex to be spontaneous, it'll never happen. She says part of the reason behind this is that women traditionally take a little longer to get revved up.
"Women are a crock pot and men are a microwave oven," she says. "If you want to have sex with your wife on Saturday night, you have to turn on the crock pot on Wednesday."
This will both build anticipation and allow each person to make any necessary preparations (like booking a babysitter or buying lingerie, for example). Scheduling sex also represents a tangible way of making intimacy a priority.