In my practice I often see couples who tell me that they have lost the excitement they experienced early in their relationship and that sex is not that much fun anymore. They don't understand what has happened or changed, as they still love each other very much.
During the first six months of a romantic relationship couples enjoy a phase called limerence. A couple's intense passion for each other at this time is due to a chemical called PEA (phenyl ethylamine), a natural amphetamine. Couples enter a rose-coloured world with the belief that their partner is perfect and can do no wrong. They have sex as often as they can and are over the moon with happiness. Then things gradually change and they wonder where that beautiful lustful romance has gone to. What happened to the strong desire and passion they once had?
This might also coincide with becoming more domestic, working long hours and for some couples starting a family and having babies. But just because this limerence phase of your relationship is over, it does not mean that that the great sex you used to have should be also be gone. You just need to find ways to keep your relationship exciting.
There is a myth that sex is spontaneous - well it is not. If you want to have good sex you have to create the time and the space to get both of you in the mood and looking forward to it. For example planning a date night once a week is a good start.
You can go out and get a babysitter or when the kids are in bed make it "your time". Forget about the dishes, the emails that need to be answered or whatever chores need to be finished. Have a glass of wine, play your favourite music, relax and retreat to the bedroom. If you have children make your bedroom a private parent room, change it into an intimate space with soft lighting, beautiful sheets, candles, definitely no TV and put a lock on the door!
The most important thing to keep your relationship happy is real 'communication' so make sure that you find time to talk to each other properly. It is not the responsibility of your partner to read your mind and make you happy, it is important to tell your partner about your needs or feelings and vice versa.
There are many other ways to bring passion back to your sex life and here are some simple suggestions on how to spice things up. Sex does not always have to be in the bedroom as there are lots of different places to have it; in your car, on the beach, in somebody else's house, just use your imagination! Visit a sex shop together and buy some sex toys, erotic books or videos and then try out some new positions.
Talking 'dirty' turns on most people. Our brain, the biggest sex organ, responds to the spoken word by evoking emotions, sensations and blood flow to the genitals. Talking about your fantasies with your partner can be very stimulating and exciting. Blindfolding your partner can be very erotic, as is caressing him or her with a feather. Incorporating more humour and play into our daily interactions can improve the quality of our relationships and allows us to be more adventurous.
Why not surprise your partner with a crazy fancy dress outfit and act out a little fantasy sex, dressing up is fun. Playing games is also very pleasurable so challenge your partner to a game where the loser has to please the winner in whatever way he/or she chooses. Buy some beautiful massage oil and give your partner a relaxing sensual massage and it does not always need to end up in having sex, it can be a great way to explore each other's body and just have some fun.
But now I have a subtle warning for couples with children. Is it really that necessary for your children to have so many after school and weekend activities? Sport, music, tutoring: does this all have to be done at the same time?
Allocating one day a week to family time is a worthwhile goal but try to keep it relaxed. A walk, a picnic, or an afternoon at the local park are inexpensive and offer far greater scope for parent child interaction than ferrying kids through Saturday morning traffic. Sometimes, trying to do the "best" for your children can be detrimental to the relationship with your partner. Parents are often so tired that there is little time left to enjoy each other.
Children deserve happy and sexually fulfilled parents. A loving, a physical bond between parents underpins a harmonious family environment and provides children with positive couple role models.
Trust me there is no Olympic Gold medal for being the "best ever" parent!