We all want to have great sex throughout our relationships, but how do you keep that burning flame alive? Sexologist Robin Millhausen shares her expert knowledge on the evolution of sex during a marriage.
The Honeymoon Phase
Sometime between six and 30 months into a relationship, relationships shift from passionate, romantic love to a more companionate, intimate love otherwise known as a slow burning flame!
People may feel their relationship is flawed in some way but this is a natural progression - if we stayed in that intense, passionate love for much longer, it would distract us from other priorities such as work and family!
This phase is characterized by intimacy, connection, improved communication - and less danger, mystery and excitement.
Make a commitment to try new things sexually. Try to recreate the mystery you had in the early stages of your relationship.
Babies in the house
This is the lowest point in a sexual and romantic relationship, so be aware. When you first have a baby (or babies) you are on a high from the new lives you've created, you feel close and connected. However, over time the exhaustion and competing demands of work and family overwhelm even the strongest couple.
Before, it was just the two of you - you could find privacy and time for intimacy any time you wanted. You knew if you didn't have sex today, you could have it the next day or the day after that. But now you have a third (or fourth or fifth) person to consider, and their needs take precedence.
Take opportunities when they come! You don't know when the next one will arise. Open communication at this stage is key - you must communicate to your partner that you still value them, are attracted to them, desire them, even if you don't seem to have the time or energy to connect sexually.
Teens in the house
All of a sudden your kids know what sex is, and what you might be doing behind closed doors! This leads to a new shyness and embarrassment in couples. As well, parenting adolescents is stressful - a time often characterized by conflict between couples.
Find a way to get privacy! Capitalize on evenings when your teenagers are out or away overnight, or rent a hotel room over lunch!
Your children are finally vacating the home - off to college, university, or the world of work. All of a sudden, people that have been the central focus of your life are gone - and it's just the two of you!
Before you were too busy to focus on each other, now you have nothing but time alone.
Reopen the lines of communication - what do each of you want out of life? Are you happy in your careers? Are there places you've always wanted to travel? By connecting together in a nonsexual way, sharing adventures and dreams, you can fall in love all over again. Beware: this may be challenging. Many divorces happen around this time as couples realize they have little in common once the children are out of the picture (evidence for why you should have made the effort to stay connected all along!)
The Golden Years
If you are in a relationship with a partner in relatively good physical health, these years truly can be golden.
In heterosexual couples, finally the sexual response cycles come into alignment. Men take longer to get erections, to ejaculate - finally.
Even if you are experiencing physical challenges, you can meet them with creativity. Switch from a focus on penetrative sex to one which eroticizes the whole body. Take more time, use more lubricant!