Relationship advice: An expert reveals how to rekindle your sex life

The “non-existent” sex life of a man with his wife for many years “kills” the relationship, and he wants to bring back the spark.

Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, without restriction. This week, our resident sex therapist Isiah McKimmie hears about a reader whose sex life inside a committed relationship is in trouble.

QUESTION: I have been married to my wife for many years and when we first met the sex was okay but not amazing. Now it’s non-existent and it’s killing me. We can’t talk about it because she changes the subject or it ends up turning into an argument. She is going through menopause, so her hormones are out of whack and she is also stressed from work. What can I do to revive our sex life?

ANSWER: I hear how frustrating and upsetting this is for you. Wanting to have a pleasurable sex life with your wife is a reasonable desire.

Looks like your wife has a lot going on right now. While the factors you mentioned impact desire, I suspect there’s a lot more going on than that.

Incompatible libidos and less than exciting sex lives are some of the most common issues I support couples with in therapy. I’ve supported couples in their 20s all the way up to couples in their 60s with this. It will take effort from both of you, but it’s possible to rekindle your intimacy and have the best sex of your life, no matter what your age.

The fact that you’re having a hard time talking about sex right now without it turning into an argument tells me that there are other issues besides sex that we need to look at.

Experience tells me that your overall emotional connection may need strengthening and that you find it difficult to communicate on difficult topics.

How to jump-start your sex life

To jump-start your sex life, you’ll need to broaden your view of what’s going on. Your sex life does not take place in isolation from the rest of your relationship.

I guide couples in some key areas to help them make changes and create a relationship in which they both feel good.

1. Build your connection

Connection is the basis of your relationship. Research has shown that couples who have passionate, long-term relationships:

• Stay good friends

• Say “I love you” every day

• Go on regular dates

• Cuddle every day

The quality of your connection has a direct impact on your ability to communicate with each other and the passion you feel in your relationship.

2. Improve your communication

Most couples who seek my support due to lack of sexual desire or incompatible libido find it difficult to talk about the issue together, so you are not alone.

Couples are often stuck in a cycle of attack and withdrawal, which makes effective communication impossible. They continue to hurt each other through their attempts at communication and drift apart, never feeling understood by each other.

Being able to talk about this issue and understanding how the other feels about it is key to being able to move forward together. Learning to communicate smoothly and effectively with each other takes time and practice.

3. Revive your sex life as a team

Building a strong foundation of connection and good communication allows you to address the issue of sexual intimacy as a team.

Research has shown that couples who have long-term passionate sex also experience:

• Cuddle every day

• Kiss passionately for no reason

• Make sex a priority

• Maintain sexual variety

But all of that is hard to do (and ineffective) when you’re arguing or feeling disconnected, so we’re building a solid foundation first.

4. Remove “sexual brakes” and increase “accelerators”

A useful way to think of libido is as a car. It has brakes and an accelerator. To get it going, you can’t just step on the accelerator, you have to take the brakes off as well.

Everyone’s brakes and accelerators are a little different, which is why it’s important that you and your wife can talk about it harmoniously together. This will let you figure out how to remove some of the brakes she might be having and add some boosts that work for her.

Bringing up emotional topics like sex can be hard to do on your own. If you can, I recommend that you contact a couples therapist and a sex therapist who can offer you tools and advice to help you.

Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sex therapist, sex therapist and speaker. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her on instagram for more advice on relationships, sex and intimacy.

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