Romance is a way of creating a relaxed and inviting situation in which sex can happen — maybe even spontaneous sex!
Playing at romance can help you to overcome the seriousness with which we sometimes treat sex in a long-term relationship.
And deciding as a partnership to take time for sex, or deciding individually to treat your partner to a romantic experience — whether that means a walk under the stars, or a weekend away in a spa hotel — is essential for your sex life to be passionate and exciting. You also need to share who you are! Read about values in a relationship.
Even if trying to be romantic makes you feel self-conscious and silly, at least you have the consolation of knowing that taking the first step is the hardest part.
Once you start, once you’ve made the initial effort, matters tend to take on a momentum of their own. You can reconnect with your romantic impulses in many different ways: some suggestions about rekindling romance are included in the exercises which you can find in another section of the site.
Dealing With Anger and Resentment
What do you do if you feel angry or resentful towards your long-term partner? Do you suppress these emotions, and wait until you’re in a good enough mood that lets you tolerate sex with them?
Video – anger and resentment
Do you experience the frustration of not speaking out about the issues that are on your mind? Do you end up feeling frustrated and angry that your partner seems to take you for granted, misses your wishes, needs and desires, and doesn’t pick up on the subtleties and nuances of how you feel?
Well, I have some surprising news for you! This is probably your fault.
Why? Well, if you’re not communicating how you feel it’s unreasonable for you to expect your partner to know. Very often anger is just a build-up of frustration about unexpressed thoughts and feelings.
Of course, there are many things that seem too trivial to express in a long-term relationship; but when they’re not expressed they become a source of resentment which undermines the relationship.
This is why we’ve included some potentially challenging exercises (which may scare you) for expressing what you think and how you feel. Why not try them? You’ve nothing to lose, as the saying has it, and everything to gain.
Turning yourself off
We’ve already covered the question of turning yourself off and turning yourself on. You do have much more control over the way you feel and your emotional responses than you probably believe right now – even if it doesn’t seem that way much of the time!
In practical terms what this means is that you need to take a decision to change things: to turn yourself on, to start on the exercises that will bring you into closer connection with your partner, to increase the intimacy you feel for each other, and thereby increase your motivation to enjoy a better sex life.
Outgrowing your spouse
A lot of couples think that when they stop communicating and experience mutual antagonism that their relationship is coming to an end, yet the truth is rarely so simple.
It’s very often merely anger and resentment that get in the way of a couple communicating and make them feel like their relationship is drawing to a close.
Monogamous relationships can last a long time, or at least they can do if the partners express their feelings clearly and non-judgementally so that resentment does not build up.
Of course, it takes great courage to do this, and it’s not always easy, even in the framework of long term monogamy, to express your deepest emotions to your partner – if you’re a sensitive soul, just one act of “betrayal” (and by that I don’t mean sexual betrayal, I mean any event where you confided in your partner and were rebuffed, humiliated or treated disrespectfully) can shatter your faith and ability to confide in them…..good sex implies male control in bed.
So I acknowledge that the expression “it’s merely anger and resentment” grossly understates the impact that these emotions can have on a couple’s intimacy and love.
Even so, it’s my belief that if you start off strong, you can go on strong: very rarely does love die just because a couple grows apart. I think that’s true even in midlife.
And if it is true, it can only be because a couple has spent years denying their own needs and they are now at a point where it seems impossible to get what they need in the relationship they have with each other. In short, I think splitting up should always be a last resort.
It’s certainly not something to undertake without receiving counselling, or at least making serious and honest efforts to establish communication and real intimacy.
No matter how hurt you may feel, it’s only when you have a deep certainty in your gut instinct that you’re in the wrong relationship, or you’re following the wrong path, or that you really, really have something much more important to do in life than be in this relationship, that you should really consider splitting up.
If you want an interesting insight into how lack of communication affects relationships, look at this piece of work, written for organisations, and substitute the word “relationship” for “organisation” every time it occurs. Fascinating.
Expecting too much of yourself
The culture we live in has given us many false expectations of what constitutes a normal relationship or a normal sex life. The reality is that whatever satisfies you is your norm.
Unfortunately few couples are unaffected by the pressures that filter down through the media, advertisements, radio, online, and broadcast television.
We may be in sexual competition with an ideal in our heads, or the couple who live next door and have sex every night (very noisily), or with the couple we read about in the newspaper, or even what we imagine other people are doing.
The end result, though, is that if – for example – we aren’t having sex three times a week we feel inadequate because we aren’t living up to the average for our age group. And it’s all nonsense!
High expectations of sexual performance can also be unhelpful. Normal sex for you is what satisfies you. What satisfies you within the context of your relationship, what satisfies you within the context of the commitments you have made to your partner.
That’s easy to say, but perhaps not quite so easy to put into practice if – for example – you’re a middle-aged parent of teenagers who are just becoming sexual, because their sexual activity may remind you of your own past and promote some degree of envy, jealousy or competitiveness in your mind.
Yes, we all look back on the days of our youth having fun with our burgeoning sexuality as a desirable time. But implicit in that assumption is another one — that we cannot have as good a time now, or that somehow our capacity to enjoy ourselves sexually has diminished. And that simply cannot be true.
You have the same sexual equipment, but a lot more knowledge and experience, than you did in your teens. You also have more freedom to express yourself sexually, and hopefully you have less inhibitions about what you like and don’t like.
Why, then, would a couple become jealous of their teenagers’ sexual activity? Or jealous of something they see in a newspaper? Or the couple down the road?
The answer is always the same: it’s because they expect too much of themselves, or they expect the wrong things. Self-acceptance, one of the most graceful of all human attributes, extends to the arena of sexual relationships just as it does to any other part of life.
To be self-accepting is a great gift at any age, and indeed at any stage of a relationship.
Within the sexual context, self-acceptance can be the source of great sexual pleasure and fantastic orgasms, and may even lead to the transcendent experience of spiritual sex with your partner when you have established real intimacy through self-acceptance and other-acceptance.
To sum up: what I suggest is that you abandon the expectations of other people and start to satisfy yourself. There is no need to have a benchmark to judge whether or not your sexual activity is normal, or average, for your age group.
You are who you are, and sex is what it is, and it can be your greatest joy – especially in a monogamous, faithful relationship – if you allow it to be.