Relationships

Are you having enough sex?

Author: Canadian Living

Relationships

Are you having enough sex?

After a long day working at the office, taking the kids to dance class, and making dinner for six, the chances of you being "in the mood" are slim, but you might want to think twice about faking a headache. "Sex is extremely important in terms of giving and receiving physical pleasure, and connecting spiritually and emotionally…it's a powerful tie that binds," says Caroline Lensen, a psychotherapist based in Toronto.

But as a long-term, monogamous relationship matures, and marriage, kids and financial responsibility come into play, sex is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. Read on to find out why the flames of passion might be extinguished, and how to go out about reigniting them.

Figure it out
If you're concerned about your interest in sex, or lack thereof, there's a good chance an underlying physical or emotional issue is to blame. Prescription medication such as birth control pills or antidepressants, as well as medical issues like hormonal imbalances or pain caused by an undiagnosed illness can all lower or completely obliterate a person's sexual impulses. Changes to the structure of a relationship, such as the birth of a child, aging parents or career stress, can also take their toll in the bedroom. Getting to the source of the problem will allow you to deal with it quickly and more successfully.

Turn it on
As the term turn on implies, sexual desire can be easily switched on or off with something as simple as a word, touch or action, and everyone's list of dos and don'ts is different. "A man's sexual response is very physical and it can happen in minutes. It's sort of like a traffic light: red, yellow, green," Lensen explains. "But a woman's response to sex is a bit like a cockpit in an airplane – sending up all sorts of lights and signals before it can take off." Understanding what makes you excited, and sharing that information with your partner is the key to sustaining a passionate sex life.


Page 1 of 2 – Lensen shares three more tips to improve the intimacy in your relationship on page 2.
Communicate
Most people avoid discussing sex and intimacy issues with their partners for fear of hurting their feelings, but by not saying anything, they could be doing far more damage. "We're taught about sex in terms of procreation and how to not get diseases, but never about how to talk to each other in terms of what we really need and want," Lensen says.

Treatment is available for problems such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, so if your partner suffers from one of these conditions encourage him to seek advice from his health-care provider. Many women won't approach the subject with their husbands because they don't want to embarrass them, but Lensen says you should be as open to talking about your sex life as you are about what's for dinner. Remember to speak positively so as not to make the other person feel attacked or ashamed.

Build back your intimacy
"After couples have been together for a really long time, they're very close, they feel safe together and they’re committed, but that’s not passion or eroticism. The challenge is to revive those initial feelings," says Lensen.

She encourages couples who are working through a dry spell to recapture the excitement of their early courtship days, the ones filled with anticipation and excitement, by having a regular date night, experimenting with role-playing or taking a romantic getaway. "Going away for the odd weekend, if a couple can afford it, can completely renew a relationship," she says.

Find your magic number
Society, and the media in particular, has created a misconception that there is a "normal" amount of sex that monogamous couples should engage in. It's a fabricated standard that can create feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in couples, or individuals within a couple with lower sex drives. The truth is there's no such thing as the right amount of sex. "The right amount is really what pleases and satisfies both partners. So, if a couple is satisfied with both their frequency and the quality of their sexual life, then it's not a problem – it could be once a month, twice a month or twice a week," explains Lensen.

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