How to revive your love life

Mary Clegg

If lack of sex in your relationship is distressing you, there is plenty you can do to change the situation for the better

Where do you begin?

You need to look for non-threatening ways to open a discussion with your partner. It's important to articulate how the situation is affecting you, perhaps by saying "I feel xyz about this…how do you feel?", and to and give the other person the opportunity to explain their side too.

Do you still fancy each other?

If either of you says no, you will have to be honest about the reasons. It may be that something simple like losing a few pounds will remedy the situation but sometimes more profound changes may be needed.

Do you feel attractive?

If you hate what you see in the mirror, you're unlikely to feel sexy and confidence can easily evaporate in a sexless relationship. Remember that, if you feel and act sexy, the chances are that your partner will see you that way too.

Forgotten how to communicate?

Give each other time to talk without interruption: that means really listening and not just waiting for your turn to speak. I find it helpful to have a "talking spoon". I use a wooden mixing spoon: only the person holding it is allowed speak and you have to take it in turns. If communication dries up, ends in an argument or tears, or can't get started at all, take a short break, but come back to the issue.

What do you want?

One of the best inhibition busters is the "Wishing Bowl". Take time out together and write down a list of sensual and sexual things you would like to try. Discuss each wish before putting it into the bowl. Ideally the bowl should have an equal number of wishes for each of you. Include ideas like how much sex you would like, what sort, whether you have any fantasies.

Humour is essential in this game as is a positive attitude to making it work. Discussing ways to achieve a better sexual relationship heightens the libido. Set aside regular time together to take a wish out of the bowl and act on it.

Have the years opened a gap?

Outside influences may affect the intimate side of your relationship, such as financial hardship, death of a loved one, empty-nest syndrome. Physical problems associated with ageing may mean that what was good 10 years ago feels different now. For example, erections may be more difficult to achieve or sustain; thinning of the vagina or loss of lubrication after menopause may make intercourse painful. It doesn't mean that love has been lost, so don't be shy of sharing any such problems with your partner.

Time to start afresh?

Find ways to show your love for each other every day: such as cuddles and kisses, hand holding and snuggling up on the sofa. If it has been a long time since you had sex, start slowly and keep sex off the agenda for now so neither of you feels under pressure to perform.

The first goal could be to gradually build excitement and enthusiasm for touching, stroking and caressing each other. If you are both relaxed and happy with each other, sex will be a natural progression.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.