When I started asking various long-term couples what they do to keep their mojo going, one fairly typical response was, “How many times a year constitutes mojo?” Another wanted to know if she and her husband made love on New Year’s Eve, did it count for both years?
Well, they can be forgiven. When you are in enduring partnerships, age and routine start to creep up on you. Even though it may seem hard to recapture your hormone-addled youth, you don’t have to give up on a mutually satisfying sex life. Here is what the experts — and real couples — have to say about bringing sensuality back into the bedroom. Or on the beach. Or in the kitchen.
1. Get creative
Humans are programmed to gravitate to new experiences. Boredom happens when you are not making enough effort to bring in something new. To wit: “When we were younger, we used to do it on planes, trains, and automobiles. In other people’s houses, or out in the field near the airport where the planes took off,” recalls Rich, 56, from Queens, New York. (Identities have been changed to protect the frisky.) Bad knees, lack of time, and fear of arrest have curtailed most of that, but Rich and his longtime partner Jane, 45, still try for the unexpected. “We’ll still sneak one in different places, even if it’s just in the house somewhere. And we’re always up for trying something new — sex toy, technique. If it doesn’t work, it’s still interesting.”
“Sex is an appetite so you have to create new tastes and sensations. Would you want to eat the same dinner every night? Same thing with sex. Change a room, turn a light on, add a different lotion or sex toy. If you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, start watering your own lawn,” says Lou Paget, a certified sex educator and author of The Great Lover Playbook.
You could also try CouplesChemistry.com. Together, you and your partner take a confidential online quiz based on Kinsey Institute research. The results reveal what you can explore together to deepen intimacy. Based on those results, Couples Chemistry sends you a customized “Love Kit,” designed bring your mutual fantasies to reality.
2. Make your sex life a judgment-free zone
Communicating needs can feel risky — what if he laughs at me? What if she thinks I’m a strange? Work at establishing enough intimacy that if one expresses an interest in something new that the other finds icky, it’s just two people expressing their thoughts. You both should feel safe that the one isn’t going to make the other feel like a complete tool.
Janice, 60, from Washington D.C., explained that if she wants to have a conversation with her partner of 30 years about something negative in the bedroom, she always starts the conversation with appreciation, as in, “I love being with you so much because you make me feel so amazing — I would just like us to do it more.” Or “I absolutely love it when you do X…so I’d love it if you’d do more of X and maybe a little less of Y.”
3. Laughter is a great aphrodisiac
To achieve the previous suggestion, you need to be able to laugh at yourselves. “Sometimes when my husband and I try something new, it’s a disaster. My back goes out, he gets a cramp, we can’t follow the instructions, the lingerie he bought me can fit maybe one boob at a time,” says Kelly, 50, from Rochester, NY. “Instead of getting frustrated or embarrassed, it makes us giggle uncontrollably, which actually brings us closer and makes it more fun.”
4. Plan your fun times
I know, I know, you want to be spontaneous. Planning may seem like one more thing on your to-do list. But think about it — when you were dating, didn’t you make dates with one another? And then you spent the week fantasizing about what you’d wear, what it was going to feel like? You were creating anticipation so by the time you got together, you were raring to go.
Choose a night and plan to get in bed at 9pm, instead of 11, when you are too tired and cranky. Set the mood, light some candles, take a bath. Put some intention into it, rather than just rolling over after Jon Stewart signs off and pretending you are not too tired.
5. Accept and celebrate changing bodies
When you are together for a long time, you assume you know what the other wants. But as bodies change, appetites and needs change, too. Sometimes you might need a little extra help — a vibrator, lubricant, Viagra. You need to figure out how your body responds — try masturbating occasionally to see what is working these days — and communicate that.
And if your partner asks for a change, don’t assume that this is an expression of dissatisfaction with past relations. He or she is just telling you what works for his or her body now.
6. Pay attention
“One of the biggest reasons affairs get started is couples aren’t paying attention to one another. Their relationship gets put to the bottom of the to-do list,” says Paget. So: No multitasking. Turn off the TV (unless it’s playing a fun adult movie you are both enjoying), silence the cell phone, no checking email or playing video games.