How to Rekindle Your Sex-Life in a Long-Term Relationship
Want to destroy your sex-life? It’s easy!
Just keep some opinions to yourself, don’t speak up when your feelings are hurt, throw in a secret or two and BAM. Your desire for your partner will magically disappear! You will suddenly be exhausted with a headache every night and sex just won’t happen much anymore.
The longer the relationship goes on the more likely this is to happen. Without regular, vulnerable conversations about your feelings with your partner, this is bound to happen. Of course, there can be other factors such as stress, erectile dysfunction, etc. But lack of communication is almost universal in sexless relationships.
If you’re like me this probably isn’t what you wanted to hear. Nobody hates clear, honest, communication more than me. I suck at conflict. Most times I would rather seethe in unspoken resentment for decades rather than speak my true feelings.
Even when I know it’s for the best, most times I would rather have a root canal than those raw conversations. But I still have them with my partner every few months or so.
I force myself (or my partner forces me) to have them because these are exactly the type of conversations that are essential to keeping great sex throughout a long-term relationship. Nothing gets in the way of desire more than the things left unsaid.
The image I like to use for this concept is one of two lovers face to face between a glass window. When the relationship starts out it’s clear and clean. The lovers are constantly pawing at the glass, trying to get closer to each other. Nothing makes them happier than gazing through the window.
Time goes on and sticky situations start to come up between them, perhaps something petty like one person being late to a dinner date. The early lover doesn’t want to rock the boat so they don’t say anything, even though the tardiness makes them feel disrespected and unvalued by the late lover. A little blob of gunk appears on the window. It’s still 99.9% clear, but the little blob is definitely there.
The relationship goes on, life happens, and more blobs start to accumulate. An unspoken opinion here, a white lie there, and slowly more and more bits of gunk start to appear on the lovers’ window.
Before long, the lovers can hardly see each other. They are both still standing there, the window is still there, but now it’s so covered by gunk they don’t even want to touch it. It’s tough to tell who’s side the gunk is on but at this point, there’s so much of it it doesn’t matter.
And of course, when there is that much gunk on the window there are massive consequences to their sexual connection. Who wants to fuck someone they can barely see? Who wants to caress a window that is covered in mysterious grime? At this point, if sex happens at all, it’s pretty unsatisfying and empty.
The lovers can do three things.
Pretend there is no gunk and live life as if they are happy with the situation as is.
Leave and go find a new, clean lover’s window.
Clean off the gunk.
How do you go about cleaning off the gunk? Raw, real communication. 100% honesty. Scraping off gunk can and probably will hurt, especially at first. Most of the time avoiding pain was the reason the gunk got added to the window in the first place. But it’s the only thing that will bring the transparency needed for real intimacy.
The process may be difficult and uncomfortable, but once you’re clear, the passion has the light and space it needs to grow back. You can connect on a far deeper, more intimate level than ever before. And the vulnerability and courage required to scrape off the gunk becomes the fuel for the sexual fire that will result.
To be fair, the process can break some couples. There are some relationships with so much gunk that trying to scrape it off cracks the window. But you’ll never know if you don’t try. Nobody wants to look at their lover through a dirty window for the rest of their life.
So what do I mean by raw, real communication with 100% honesty? It’s not the type of “tough love” and “real talk” that our society likes to talk about. It’s an utterly gentle, deeply compassionate, yet profoundly honest form of communication.
Your words are ultimately intended to heal your relationship and demonstrate love to the other person, which is a much different context than debate or criticism.
Here are some tips on how to have a raw, real conversation with your partner that will allow the intimacy to flourish.
Use a gentle, compassionate tone of voice. Do not yell. If you find anger building stop speaking and just breathe deeply for a moment. This is crucial for your partner to really hear what you’re saying Even the painful words “I’m not sure I love you anymore,” will be better received with a soft voice than a loud one.
Use “I” phrases instead of “you” phrases. For example: “I feel disrespected when I come home to a dirty house,” instead of, “You don’t do the dishes enough.” This keeps it from becoming accusatory and makes it more about feelings than behavior.
Let one person speak at a time. This isn’t a normal conversation where the topic is batted like a ball back and forth. This is a time for each person to truly and deeply express their truth and be really listened to by their partner. If your partner pauses but your gut says they have more to say you can always ask, “Thank you for sharing. Do you have more to say about that?”
Keep going until you find the core. Often what’s really going on can take some digging. A petty argument about finances can be a cover for a core-level issue of power in the household and/or poke at long-held emotional wounds. Go until it feels unbelievably raw and vulnerable. Wait for that “aha” moment.
Listen with your whole heart. When it is your turn to listen rather than speak, really listen. This isn’t about you and your emotions or your reactions to what they’re saying, it’s about them and their truth. Listen with your whole soul and hang on to every word and the potential meanings between the words. Don’t plan what you’re going to say next, LISTEN.
Say “thank you.” No matter what they have shared, thank them for their honesty and vulnerability. The words of your partner are a precious gift and should be treated as such.
Ask deep but open-ended questions. For example, “How do you feel about money?” “What are you afraid of?” and “What do you have on our sex life?” or similarly deep questions go a long way to push the level of the conversation.
There is nothing like the unspoken bullshit to shut down your sexy chemistry with your partner. And there’s nothing like a raw, deep conversation to bring it back to life. You may not want to jump in the sack right after such an emotional exchange, but it can definitely lay the foundations for passion and fireworks once the tears have dried.
If you or your partner can’t handle this kind of conversation, consider this an invitation to do some emotional strength training. Most of us aren’t turned on by going to therapy or reading some personal development books, but you’ll probably do a lot of things for the sake of your sex-life.
Sexuality needs profound and continued emotional safety to flourish in a long-term relationship. It can be a challenge to maintain clarity with each other through the years, but it’s essential to keep your desire burning.
Sex is an incredibly vulnerable act, even with someone you’ve known for decades. By creating an honest foundation, your sex-life will have the space it needs to blossom.
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