I was asked by MSN.com this week to comment on some new research reported by CNN that says many couples are too tired for sex.
You can read the article by clicking here. The article obviously hit a nerve and was very popular, ending up on the home page of MSN.
Couples that are too tired for sex is a growing problem for many in long term relationships. This is brought about by many reasons, including physical and emotional stress from work, less relationship and family time and our insatiable desire to be connected with each other via technology.
I’m often amazed when couples report that their sex life is in the doldrums, yet they both sit in bed together typing on computers, smartphones and iPads. Technology in the bedroom (including televisions) can be a massive passion killer.
It’s important that your bed and bedroom are associated with only 2 things- sex and sleeping. If you can ban technology from the bedroom, you’re off to a good start.
If you must have a tablet or Kindle in the bedroom because that’s how you read to go to sleep, that can work, as long as you’re not checking emails, surfing the Internet or on social media. And by the way, this is also really good sleep hygiene to help you establish healthy sleeping patterns.
While it’s quite common to have some reduced frequency in sex after the first few years of being in a relationship, sex always plays an important role in any relationship.
Sex is important on a number of levels because:
- it’s a natural mood enhancer and antidepressant
- it helps you to feel safe and secure in your bond with your partner
- it relieves physical stress and tension
- it allows you to let go, open up and intimately trust another human being
- you re-establish your relationship bond every time you have sex
- it reminds you that you’re important to one another
- it improves your self-esteem, confidence and overall well-being
How do you make time for sex when you’re tired?
It’s important to work out when you are at your best for initiating sex. Many couples are tired in the evening, so that may not be the best time to initiate. If you are morning people, then see if you can alter your morning routine to make time to be able to have sex before you leave for work. This can be a great mood enhancer and get you off to a great start for the day.
Even when you’re tired, it can be really valuable to just carve out ‘connection time’ where you go to bed and even agree to have non-sexual time. This is a time where you can hold each other, lay on your bed with your heads on your pillows, facing each other, and talk about what’s going on in your life, while stroking, hugging and holding. This very important connection time is often a pre-cursor to having more sex, because it improves your bond and increases your sense of safety and care in the relationship.
There’s no rule book on how often couples should be having sex. It’s about talking and working out together what your needs are and finding a frequency that works for you both. Some couples are fine with once a week, others once a month, and others need it much more frequently.
How you can rejuvenate your sex life with your partner
Great sex comes from elevating your arousal levels to a point where your blood is pumping and you’re ready to go.
Sameness is a relationship can be a passion killer. So trying to bring in more excitement by changing up your schedule, having a spontaneous date night or flirting with your partner throughout the day via email or SMS can help bring up your arousal levels.
John Gottman PhD, famous couple’s researcher says “every positive thing you do in your relationship is foreplay”, so if you can develop this mindset, this will help you prepare the ground more for the possibility of sex.
It’s important to speak up when you’re feeling sexual and/or emotionally disconnected from one another, so you can find ways to reconnect and re-establish your secure bond. When you are experiencing different desire levels, you can consider the following:
- try to go to bed at the same time and rise at the same time, so you’re on the same schedule
- if you can’t go to bed together, have the partner that goes to bed later go in a ‘tuck’ the other partner in- this is sacred connection time
- leave smartphones, computers and iPads out of the bedroom
- don’t have a television in the bedroom
- schedule non-sexual touching, holding and caressing time together
- help your partner achieve orgasm on their own
- make time to be alone and touch, hold and caress, without the pressure of having sex (though sex often does come from this)
- do positive things for your partner without asking, for example, do all the washing, cook a nice meal or generally take away tasks so there is more time for the two of you to have sex
Many people don’t feel like sex, but once they start and their arousal levels increase, then they feel the desire. So it’s important not to always say no just because you don’t feel like it. The research suggests that many people can enjoy very satisfying sex even when they don’t have the desire, but they start anyway.
Do you need relationship help?
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.