Sexual intimacy often experiences dips or lulls as a couple goes through life together. You can’t predict the changes life will throw at you, and some are easier to handle than others. However, some challenges will take a more significant toll on your life and relationship.
Long-term increased workload, stress, health problems, medication (with side effects), trauma, loss of a loved one or pet, and having children can all wreak havoc on your personal life as well as your relationship. These things have a big impact and often change the overall shape of your life.
These changes can cause you to put your relationship on the back burner while you manage this new change in your life. For short periods this is fine, but deprioritizing your relationship for a year while your partner works through a serious illness can leave you both feeling disconnected and aware of a lack of intimacy that has grown into your relationship.
Significant life changes can create a shift in expectations around sex when you and your partner were previously on the same page. This is important because different expectations can cause feelings of confusion, insecurity, and resentment.
Reconnecting with your partner
Fear not, you’re not in a hopeless situation. It’s possible to reconnect and rebuild sexual intimacy back into your relationship. The first step is to acknowledge the change, the change in your life that resulted in a change in focus. You’re juggling multiple claims on your time, and your relationship has taken a back seat.
Make a point to make time for your relationship again. This may sound easy, but it requires you to put time and effort back into your relationship. You’re effectively choosing to take your relationship off that back burner and reprioritize it again.
Here are 7 tips to help bring your sexual intimacy back to life:
- Date night
Lay down some ground rules for date nights to keep the focus on you, your partner, and enjoying your time together. Don’t talk about stressful things like work, your kids, health problems – date night is a time for fun, not stress. Do activities you enjoy together but also be creative. Mystery and anticipation can easily spark and rejuvenate the erotic connection you share.
- Arrange alone time together
Set up people in your life who are willing to lend a hand, to allow you to have some alone time with your partner and spend that time on each other and your relationship. Maybe your parents take the kids for an evening, and your friend looks after the dog, then you and your partner have no interruptions for a night, and you can focus on each other.
- Have a communication avenue just for flirting
Set up a private method of communicating with your partner (a text thread or an email address, remember this is private, so don’t use a work handle!) for flirty, lovey-dovey, and erotic messages only. This is supposed to be a place for fun and exciting messages, not the housekeeping of your day-to-day life.
- Have a late night out
Step away from your home and all the stresses of your daily life and have fun together. This is not a childish tact for younger people; it’s a dedicated way to focus on enjoyment and each other. Be silly, be spontaneous, have fun. Doing this once every 6-8 weeks is an easy way to put erotic energy back into your life.
- Prioritize individual alone time
Alone time together is important for building relationship intimacy, but making sure you have time for yourself is just as important. You can’t put energy into your relationship if you’re burnt out all the time. Set time aside for yourself, your interests, and your needs. Spend an evening reading a book for leisure, connect with friends, or pursue something new you’ve always wanted to do.
- Plan couple-time together
Date nights are great opportunities for building intimacy. Work together to plan this time. You can have one person plan the date logistics and one logistics for the household (who will look after the pet or kids etc.) or do both together. The focus should be on arranging and having a good time together.
- Schedule sex
This may sound dull and boring, but it can actually build anticipation. Regardless of whether you know you’ll be having sexy time that night when you get up in the morning, the pleasure and intimacy are just as enjoyable as when you don’t know it’s coming ahead of time.
It’s okay if you are struggling to reconnect after a big life change, and sexual intimacy may not be the only disconnect you are feeling now.
Working with a counsellor either individually or as a couple can help you work through this change, building upon the existing strengths in your relationship and giving you the tools to build more resilience as a couple for life’s challenges in the future.
Do you need relationship help?
If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can 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.