Get the love bug!
Sex can be a prickly subject when you’ve been together a while. Try these tips to start feeling fruity again.
In her book, Why we love: The nature and chemistry of romantic love (Henry Holt & Co), anthropologist Dr Helen Fisher provides new clues on recapturing those heady days of early attraction. “A relationship has three distinct stages,” Fisher explains. “Lust brings us together, releasing chemicals in the brain and body that trigger attraction, interaction, and sexual activity. Next comes romantic love, an almost obsession-like phase where we constantly think of our partner and view the relationship in a very rosy light.
“Then, within a year or so, the heady dose of brain chemicals is replaced with the final stage of attachment, a gentler form of love involving shared goals and values and ‘feel good’ hormones that create peace and calm. Attachment feels good initially but it also allows us to stop working so hard at love. Quite quickly, the priority of meeting each other’s needs becomes background noise: our differences show through and niggles become fights. The attachment phase of a relationship is a welcome break from Does he love me? or Where is this going? – but it can make you less alert to your partner’s needs.”
Can we recapture intimacy, even if things are going badly? Yes, says Fisher. “It is possible to trick the brain into moving back to the early, heady days of romance. Novelty is the key: sharing new experiences produces the same hormones and neurotransmitters that produce the ‘highs’ you first enjoyed.” Here are five ways to up the frisky factor:
1. Romance the phone Text your partner during the day when they least expect it. Say how much you care, how you can’t wait to be together, how you will team up to get the kids to bed and make space for yourselves. Unexpected loving words cause a rush of romance to the brain.
2. Stage a slide night Collect snaps from when you first met. Set aside time for a glass of wine and laugh and talk about the memories they evoke. Your brain instantly remembers those original intense feelings, but in a new, more mature context.
3. Live large Introduce a little danger … Go for a rally drive together, trek in steep bushland or climb a mountain. Relying on each other when you’re out of your comfort zone produces those wonderful heady feelings of need and want.
4. Play a waiting game Anticipation is a great way to spice up your sex life. Plan a night together with no distractions. Enjoy a long, leisurely meal, tell him what you want - but make him wait until dessert is finished.
5. Shake things up Move the bedroom furniture around, swap pastel curtains for passionate reds, burn scented candles and buy silk sheets to create a mood of surprise and intimacy.
Sex in the real world
The survey ‘Sex Lives of Australian Women’ found we see sex as “a bitter-sweet experience”. Women’s answers suggest that, the longer a relationship lasts, the greater may be the differences between male and female libidos as children, chores, resentments and everyday irritations sabotage intimacy. However, research also shows that regular sexual activity has a host of health benefits – including reducing your risk of heart disease, burning calories, relieving pain, and making you look and feel better – so there are lots of reasons to get back in the saddle!