Couples Who Have Great Sex Do These 13 Things

What’s the old joke about how marriage can get in the way of a great sex life?

While it’s not quite that straightforward, there is more truth to this statement than you may realize. Recent research published in BMJ Open looked at a 2-year period of people’s sex lives, and the results were very relevant for couples who want to have a fulfilling sex life.

The Research

In this study, researchers surveyed the sex lives of men and women between 16 and 74 years old. The results showed that about 15% of men and 34% of women reported that they were no longer interested in sex. For women, in particular, the overall rate was higher for those in a committed relationship for a year or longer.  

These results are not that surprising overall. After the initial excitement of the Honeymoon Phase of a relationship, sexual interest typically declines for most couples. The act of having sex can even feel robotic to some couples. However, there are things you can do to resurrect your sex life.

The 13 Things to Do for Your Sex Life

Dr. John Gottman, Ph.D., an expert in relationship counseling, identified 13 behaviors from his research that all couples that have a great sex do. These include:

  1. Say “I love you” to each other each day.
  2. Kiss each other passionately.
  3. Exchange gifts that are romantic.
  4. Know each other’s turn-ons and turn-offs.
  5. Show physical affection to each other.
  6. Have fun!
  7. Cuddle
  8. Put sex at the top of the list, not last.
  9. Continue to be friends.
  10. Talk to each other about your sex lives.
  11. Go out on a date each week.
  12. Take a romantic vacation.
  13. Turn towards each other.

Note the last point, “Turning towards each other.” Gottman points out that all items above shared the same commonality:  that these couples “turn towards” one another fairly consistently with love and affection in an effort to connect. Seeking out our partner to meet those needs not only helps maintain feelings of connection to our partner but is also the foundation of a healthy and active sex life.

Sexual Accelerators and Brakes

Gottman also discusses Emily Nagoski’s research that talks about sexual accelerators and brakes. An accelerator is anything that helps you be in the mood for sex or something that actually turns you on, and a brake is something that makes you uninterested in being sexual or some actual turn-off. Stereotypically, men have an over-developed sexual accelerator and an underdeveloped sexual brake. However, the opposite is often the case for women, who stereotypically have an over-developed brake and an underdeveloped accelerator. (There are of course many couples that don’t share this gender stereotype.) The key is to identify each other’s accelerators and brakes, to become attuned to them, and better understand each other’s sexual interests.

Steps to Improving Your Sex Life.

If you are trying to improve your sex life consider these four ideas:

1. It is important to identify any built up resentment in your relationship and to take inventory of any problems preventing emotional closeness. These need to be worked on before any other progress can be made.

2. Implement some of the 13 steps outlined above.

3. Learn each other’s sexual accelerators and brakes. This is typically much easier said than done since most couples aren’t comfortable discussing their sexual preferences. Yet these can be invaluable conversations for improving your sex life.

4. If you get stuck implementing steps 2 or 3, don’t hesitate to seek out professional counseling.

The problem isn’t that most people don’t have the ability to implement the 13 points listed above – it’s just that many aren’t ready to engage in them. They frequently struggle to have the communication tools necessary in order to feel connected enough to truly want them in order for them have a meaningful impact on their relationships. Hence, it is necessary for many couples to attend couples counseling in order to significantly improve their sex life.

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