Some years ago, I was having a rollicking chat about relationships and men with the nearly 80-year-old grandmother of a dear friend of mine when, out of the blue, she said, “You know, they say that if a couple puts a penny in a jar every time they do it in the first year they’re married, then they take a penny out every time they do it after that, they’ll never get all the pennies out of the jar.”
I pondered this rather bleak-sounding prognosis for a moment, thinking that it confirmed a lot of my and my friends’ experiences with sex in relationships – after awhile, it feels like there’s nothing new to discover, and everything sort of becomes old hat, routine – and then suddenly my friend’s grandmother totally derailed my train of thought.
“But I don’t know,” she said. “Me and the mister, well, we never did have a penny jar, but if we did, I think by now we’d be in a pile of debt!”
As it turned out, her 50-plus year marriage was still sexually vigorous and exciting, and she was, quite justifiably, tickled pink about it. How nice to know that it really is possible! We chatted more, and in the years since I had that conversation, I’ve often thought about what it takes to keep the sexual parts of a long-term relationship alive. I’ve talked to long-term couples, psychologists, my own partners, and to my fellow sex educators. While everyone agrees that there’s no “magic bullet” that is guaranteed to keep sex hot forever, it also doesn’t happen on its own. Here are some thoughts, tips, and techniques that can go a long way to help cause a severe shortage of pennies in your penny jar.
Cheap Motel Therapy – A few years back, I wrote an article about liking to go on road trips with my sweetie because I love doing the wild thing in cheap motels. I got a flood of responses from people who were thrilled to know there was someone else who liked cheap motels as much as they did, including many from women and men who used a little overnight or weekend trip to some nearby roadhouse as a way to jump-start their sex lives. Being in an anonymous little room gives us all a bit of a blank slate, a chance to let our wild side out to play. Bonus: you don’t have to wash the sheets!
Reach Out and Touch Someone – “Seventy percent of backrubs lead to sex,” a guy who was trying to seduce me once told me. Now, that may or may not be true – consider the source and what he was trying to accomplish – but it’s no secret that many a sexy interlude begins with sweet touching, stroking and massaging. Been awhile since you ran your hands up the backs of your sweetie’s thighs? Can’t remember the last time your significant other gave you a headrub? There’s no time like the present to trade a few strokes.
Go Head to Head – A little change in perspective can do amazing things. Lie flat on your backs with your feet in opposite directions but your heads side by side. You can still feel your partner’s presence, hear them and talk to them, but you can’t really see them. Do you feel how soft and warm your partner’s face feels next to yours, how intimate that seems? Whispering little secrets, maybe about things you’ve wanted to try or reminiscing about torrid times past, seems to come naturally when you lie head to head. When the talking gets juicy, don’t forget to let your fingers do some walking, stroking your own body and, if you want to, your partner’s head – ears, lips, scalp, forehead and cheeks are all very sensitive to erotic touch. Who thought putting your heads together would get you so turned on?
Schedule Some Nude Time – These days, we all have to schedule time to give our lives a chance, and that includes our sex lives. Pick one evening (or another time that works for you and your partner – at least three or four hours) every week, clear the decks and make it your time just to be together. Turn off the TV, take the phone off the hook, take your clothes off and get comfy. You don’t have to immediately start having sex – that’s not the point. The point is to have a chance to talk, and to remember that this other person in your life is more than just a housemate and a co-parent, but also a vulnerable, feeling, thinking, warm, lovable human being. It doesn’t always end in sex, and that’s okay. Just spending that kind of intimate time together can make for much better sex down the road.
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