Of all the sex problems couples write to me about, the most usual’s not having it. My bet is that if you took a (truthful) head count round any restaurant – or workplace, or shopping mall – you’d find that most couples who’ve been together more than a month aren’t making love as much as they used to – or would like to.
So if you’re in that situation, you’re not alone.
But while you’re not alone, you may be completely confused. The reasons you’re not making love can be so complex that they can seem like one of those convoluted murder mysteries. Did it start when he went on night shift… or when the baby arrived… with that world-ending row… or with that big project at work that made sex the last thing on your mind?
But as in a murder mystery, it is possible to track down and solve the problem of why you’re not making love any more. Through motive, means and opportunity…
To have sex, you need the opportunity to have sex. You have to have the time, and the space, to simply do it.
You may not have that opportunity. There aren’t that many hours in the day. Or, there may not be the space – particularly if you have children who are likely to walk into your bedroom completely unannounced. The best contraceptive in the world is a three-year-old who hasn’t yet grasped the point of sleeping.
So set aside prime time. Book it in. Take a whole evening for sex each week rather than just the quarter of an hour before you fall asleep. Go away for the weekend rather than trying to juggle home life and sex life together. You may spend the first three dedicated evenings or weekends just sleeping. But gradually, you’ll catch up and start making use of the opportunity you’re giving yourself.
To have sex, you need the means to have sex. In other words, you need to get turned on in the first place, and then let each other know you’re turned on.
Sometimes the turn-on simply never happens any more. You love each other, you feel comfortable with each other. But aroused? Excuse me?
This is particularly likely if you haven’t had sex for a while, and every time you think of it, you get nervous and embarrassed, and your mental circuits close down. So, start being romantic again. Overcome the nervousness and embarrassment with sheer good feeling about each other and confidence in the relationship.
Another twist is that you get turned on, but don’t tell each other. You’re scared of getting rejected. Or you’ve lost that set of nonverbal signals that originally meant ‘let’s do it’. So, make it more obvious when you want each other.
And, be willing to at least give it a go when your partner makes it obvious that they want you. Sure, if you’re really not getting turned on after five minutes, then say stop. But sometimes moving just slightly towards sex can create the arousal you need in order to go all the way.
Also, use fantasy. It’s not a betrayal of your love – and it is a wonderful engine-starter. So talk about what you want to do to each other, spin stories of ideal sex, talk about the best time you’ve ever had together. If your bodies won’t slide easily into a sexual gear, use your minds to make the connection.
To have sex, you need a motive to have sex. You have to be able to imagine there being something worthwhile once you’ve got past that initial foreplay.
So most basically, make sure that both of you are having an orgasm. In particular, if she’s never had one, or used to have them but doesn’t any more – because foreplay’s got shorter and shorter – find out or rediscover how you need to make love so you both climax most of the time.
Also, update each other on what turns you on. Tastes change and so do nerve endings, and what was a turn-on for both of you when you were first together may now be just routine or irrelevant. So, do a regular inventory of “what do I really like… what would really turn you on…”. Or swap one request – not complaint – every time you do start getting physical.
Lovemaking also has to motivate emotionally. If you don’t feel appreciated, trusted and trusting, then you won’t feel like sex. The most effective aphrodisiac is telling each other that you still love and like, not only that you lust.
There’s a final warning. You need body, mind and emotions to all work together to get a fading sex life back. Because passion isn’t stupid – it can tell when some part of you isn’t really interested or committed. So it won’t work just to put on silly costumes or try out wacky new techniques for the sake of it. And it might even be necessary to get professional help to overcome your problems, particularly emotional ones – seething resentment and erotic fulfilment aren’t good bedfellows.
But if you want the sex back and are prepared to prioritise getting it back, then you’ll almost certainly succeed.
Resuscitating dead passion can feel impossible. But it can be done.
If you’d like support with your sex life, please email and tell me about it. If I feel I could help, we can arrange for an initial coaching session to explore how we would work together. I’d love to hear from you.