Sex advice: Inject some excitement into marriage and try new things

Sex advice: Inject some excitement into marriage and try new things

My husband and I have been together for 20 years and I can’t even remember how I used to flirt with him. I tried fiddling with my hair in what I thought was a vaguely coquettish manner the other day and he asked me if something was wrong. I still fancy him and our sex life is OK, but I think things would hot up if we flirted more.

It is a strange function of long-term relationships that the more time you spend together, the less visible you become to each other. It’s often termed “taking each other for granted”, but it is more complex than that.

Your coquettish flirting was a bid for attention; for your husband to notice and desire you the way he once did. The reason his response was so unsettling is because it confirms that he no longer “sees” you as the same sexual person. It’s not unusual after 20 years together, but if you want to catch his eye again, you’re going to have to do more than bat your eyelashes.

The mathematician and relationship guru John Gottman says:

Long-term relationships are like the second law of thermodynamics - closed energy systems that tend to run down and get less orderly over time.[/quote

]

What he means by that is: if you do nothing to actively make your relationship better, it will get worse.

At the moment things are OK, but if you compare how things are now with how they once were, you can see how slippery the slope is. When you first met it was probably less like sex and more like mutual predation.

In those first throes couples don’t just flirt, they consume one another mentally and physically, staying up all night having sex and revealing their innermost selves to each other.

After those intoxicating early stages your relationship endured, so you built a life together. You forged careers, built houses, raised a family and as you moved through life together your eyes were so firmly fixed on the road ahead that you stopped seeing the person walking beside you.

The obligations that are part and parcel of marriage mean that you have to live life to a schedule, but routine is the enemy of excitement.

When the psychologists Irene Tsapelas, Arthur Aron and Terri Orbuch published the results of a study that had tracked the happiness of 123 married couples over a 16-year period, they found that the strongest predictor of dissatisfaction at year 16 was boredom in year seven. Although marriage provides closeness and companionship, familiarity and sexual desire are opposing forces.

Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to help. The first is to spend time together doing something radically different from what you normally do.

Train for a marathon, join a choir, raise money for charity. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it forces you both out of your comfort zone. Working towards a goal will give you a shared sense of purpose. It will also help your husband to see you in a new light.

The second thing that will help is to explore yourself as an individual. The sexiest ingredient in any relationship is autonomy and yet it is the thing we sacrifice most easily. Think back to who you were when you first met. What were your passions? What defined and distinguished you as an individual? If you have lost sight of yourself, it is unsurprising your husband has stopped seeing you too.

Ask yourself where you want to be in ten years and then waste no time in getting on with it. Whether you decide to change jobs, learn salsa or finally get that PhD, differentiating yourself will make you visible, not just to your husband, but to everyone.

Reclaiming your identity will create tension in your relationship because the separate, newly accomplished you is someone your husband will feel he has to work a bit harder to hold on to. That’s a much sexier way to get his attention than twiddling your hair.

Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com

More on this topic

Sex File: I’m inundated by overly keen younger menSex File: I’m inundated by overly keen younger men

Sex File: Dating a younger man is socially acceptableSex File: Dating a younger man is socially acceptable

Sex File: Why won’t she cuddle me after sex?Sex File: Why won’t she cuddle me after sex?

Sex advice: I can’t cope with the constant complimentsSex advice: I can’t cope with the constant compliments

More in this Section

Inside Out: It's a kind of magic - How real-life wizards are transforming livesInside Out: It's a kind of magic - How real-life wizards are transforming lives

How can I stop my child feeling scared about the future of our planet?How can I stop my child feeling scared about the future of our planet?

Trend of the week: Fashion goes full circle with a season dedicated to dotsTrend of the week: Fashion goes full circle with a season dedicated to dots

Period pain: Living with poorly understood endometriosisPeriod pain: Living with poorly understood endometriosis


Latest Showbiz

The British fitness guru is hosting live fitness sessions aimed at children on his YouTube channel every weekday at 9am.Body Coach Joe Wicks donates money from YouTube PE sessions to NHS

Host Matt Lucas was due to make his debut in the Bake Off tent.Channel 4 delays Bake Off filming until it is ‘safe to proceed’

The acclaimed series will be back on TV sooner than expected.BBC announces good news for Killing Eve fans

He announced his decision to quit Strictly on Thursday.Former Strictly star AJ Pritchard says he wants to emulate Ant and Dec

More From The Irish Examiner