“MY wife and I are bored with our sex life. We love each other, but cannot seem to find the time or urge for sex again,” a friend who’s been married 17 years confided in me recently. After three children, the youngest clocking 10 in February, the couple’s love life has been in a rut for years and they want to get out. The last sexual encounter either could remember was an early morning quickie that created more frustration than pleasure. Indeed the excitement and spark present at the beginning has waned significantly.
It wasn’t surprising news, but how could I help? Although in a long-term relationship, they are into a routine that takes up time for everything in their lives, except them. With too much to do, they are too tired for love when the need arises.
They are workaholics, leaving home at the crack of dawn and not getting back before 10pm each day. All their children are in boarding school, so no school runs except during visitation and holidays. Even then, this couple’s social life is non-existent – no parties, no night-clubbing, the odd Church service, or family meeting, etc.; even Saturday and Sunday are spent attending official seminars and post educational classes. The lesson is that even if you are together as a couple, you still need to create time to be together.
Don’t suffer in silence
My friend who confided in me obeyed this rule. It’s may not be that he and his spouse are not feeling in the mood; could be that their body isn’t cooperating because sex is dull or painful. This can be a big issue for women approaching menopause, who might be too embarrassed to tell their partner.
According to a sex expert, with age, oestrogen levels decrease, and this affects a lot of organs, including the vagina. When tissues atrophy and thin out, losing some of their blood supply, intercourse becomes more painful.
Fortunately, there are remedies for painful sex or check with your doctor if the pain continues.
A dwindling libido may be more than just a sign of aging. It may be a sign of another health problem. For example, depression, anxiety, and hormonal imbalances can all contribute to sexual dysfunction. In men, not being able to get an erection can be an early warning sign of diabetes or heart disease. And some medications, including antidepressants and blood pressure drugs, can lower your sex drive. Behavioural issues can also interfere with ability to have sex. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can put a damper on sexual response. Even the way you exercise can be a factor. For instance, too much time on the bike can lead to problems in bed. There are remedies for these problems. Getting enough sleep can help.
All couples are tired at the end of a long day, and routine gets boring after a while. Have you ever tried a different place, a different time, or a different position? Try sex in the shower or in a different room in the house for instance. It works if you can be open-minded enough. Prioritise what’s important, a sex educator advises. Tired as you might be, it’s OK to just make it a quickie sometimes. Sex is so important to the overall health of your relationship. Instead of waiting until it’s time to put out the lights, take a break for a romantic encounter or first thing before you beging the day’s chores.
Rediscover each other
If you haven’t had sex for some time, a come-on from your partner can feel very artificial and forced. It helps to reconnect in a non-sexual way first, says psychotherapist Christina Steinorth. “If you haven’t had any kind of quality time together, you’re not going to feel sexual,” she says.
Steinorth says it’s important to mix it up: Forgo the old “dinner and a movie” cliché in favour of something new, and make it a priority on your calendar. Schedule time each week for a “date” with your spouse. A shared experience – cooking, washing – something silly. Plan a surprise trip or go out for sightseeing on a Sunday morning. Let it become a habit. The desire will just grow from there.
A quick sexual encounter may regain its excitement once you’ve reconnected. When the relationship’s alive like that, the 10-minute ‘let’s sneak off and do it’ quickie works great. It’s like your little secret and helps further build the bond between you. But that bond has to be there in the first place.
Focus on what you like
Many of us have things we’d like to change about our bodies, the sex expert notes. “Maybe you never lost the baby weight, or you’re not happy with how you’ve stopped going to the gym. Ultimately, low self-image comes down to not being in love with you. And if you don’t love yourself, you’re not going to share yourself with someone else. Short of therapy for poor self-esteem, you can try finding things about yourself that you do like and focus on those sexually. Alternatively, focus on your partner’s body instead of your own. What do you love about the person you’re with? What about his or her body arouses you? That way you can shift the focus from your own insecurities to what makes being together fun. No matter what the reason for diminished desire, getting back on track with your partner sexually is going to take some effort. “Sex takes work, and you have to focus on it just like everything in your relationship,” the sex expert notes. “There isn’t a magic pill.”