Ditch sweats to heat marriage, coach says
You've met the person of your dreams and decided to spend the rest of your lives together.
You think each other are greatest things since peanut butter and jelly, and you cannot keep your hands off of each other.
Several months later, you are so busy writing thank you notes and working to save for a house that you realize you haven't been between the sheets together in weeks.
Or maybe you have been married for 30 years, and you forget what intimacy even is.
Both of these things are common, said Dawn Lipthrott, a marriage and relationship educator and coach.
Lipthrott said when people first fall in love, neurochemicals such as dopamine and phenylethylamine (PEA) increase in production, which increases desire.
At some point, the chemicals go back to normal and the urge can drop off. That's when little irritations and anxieties can pop up and things may change.
It's completely normal and doesn't mean you are with the wrong person or that the person has changed, Lipthrott said.
"Chances are you could leave the relationship, get into another one and within a year or two, find yourself in the same spot," she said. "A good marriage or partnership is built by learning how to become good partners to one another."
And it doesn't mean it's time to live without sex, either.
Ditch The Sweats
One expert says many couples have it wrong. They get all dressed up go to work and then come home and throw on comfy clothes. Couples overlook looking good for each other.
Sometimes getting back in the groove can be just as simple as taking off the sweatpants, said Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness.
"Ironically, we get decked on special occasions when there are 100 other people in the room," he said. "You should be doing that for each other. Your mate is the one you want to turn on."
He recommends having a date night and getting dressed up like you did the first time you went out.
Fertel also said diet and exercise are important. They improve your appearance and help your confidence by giving you more energy and overall vibrance.
"Those characteristics are seductive and make you feel more sexual, and in turn that also makes us more desirable," he said.
Lipthrott said caring about your appearance enhances your sexuality, both for your partner and for you.
"Sometimes a person's sexual life suffers because they are embarrassed about their own body," she said. "For both men and women sight, smell, taste, touch and sound are all part of the sexual experience, and each contributes or detracts from sexual enjoyment."
Have An Affair -- With Your Spouse
Even if you think your partner is dead sexy, it doesn't mean you'll be tearing each other's clothes off the second you walk in the door. Life gets in the way.
"Sometimes couples try to squeeze it in at 11 p.m. when one or both are exhausted," Lipthrott said.
Scheduling some bedroom time doesn't have to be boring or monotonous. Creating date nights or an occasional overnight getaway is essential, especially if you have children.
Fertel recommends couples getting a room once a month and having a baby sitter watch the children. He said the excitement of a new place and mystery can be amazing and feel exciting.
"It is a wonderful thing to have an affair with your spouse," he said.
Fertel also said people should keep their kids out of the bedroom at all times.
"Your bedroom should not be Grand Central Station. It should be a sacred place for husband and a wife," he said. "You should feel safe, like intimacy can occur at any time and you can be spontaneous."
Setting The Mood
Once you've got the desire and the time, it can help keep the momentum and desire going before and long after.
Lipthrott said it can be as simple as creating a positive environment. Laughing together, smiling more and appreciating each other can be a real aphrodisiac.
"Don't just wait until you are in the mood to do something nice," she said.
Putting thought into the moment can also go a long way. Break out special perfume, light some candles and play some soft music.
Creating something to look forward to and long for can be a turn on. Make sure you leave yourself enough time for kissing, cuddling and maybe a sensual massage.
You can also keep it fun by switching things up now and then. Don't do the same things, the same way, every time. Talk with your partner about things you would like to try.
But, Lipthrott said, don't try to coerce or shame your partner into something they are not comfortable with.
And don't assume just because they love you they always know how to turn you on.
"Teach each other how to be a good sexual partner," she said.
Sometimes, that means just understanding the needs of your spouse. In general, women like to feel connected to their partner in non-sexual ways, Lipthrott said. Men can do little thoughtful things to let a woman know he is thinking about her -- not just on the days you want to have sex.
"If she doesn't feel emotionally connected to you, you won't get any!" she said.
Women, however, should remember that sex is usually the primary way men feel connected and bonded.
"It is not because they don't care about you and only care about sex," she said. "For most men, those two are intertwined."
Ultimately, being open, honest and communicating with each other can not only lead to a better sex life, but can help avoid any underlying rejection or resentment.
"Because being sexual is such a place of vulnerability, it can be a place of deep sensitivity," Lipthrott said.
One thing to keep in mind is that every relationship is different. If you have tried to work on the relationship and are still having problems, both experts recommend speaking to a doctor.