Many people associate marriage and/or monogamy with monotony.
When we first start to connect with a love interest there is plenty of flirting, romantic dates, intimate conversation and intense eye contact, all of which builds sexual tension that finally flows over to sex.
At first sex is exciting and amazing – both partners are more likely to want to be adventurous, allocate plenty of time and willing to try different things together.
It is a great time as a couple, when you simply can’t get enough of each other! Love hormones and neurotransmitters are in overdrive.
However, the novelty can wear off after a year or two, the chemicals settle down and you can start to slip into the comfort zone.
This doesn’t mean that you should give up the idea of having a sensual and exciting love life, just because you are are in a monogamous relationship.
John Aiken discusses in his book, “Making Couples Happy”, some key activities and skills that couples need to do in committed actions to help them reconnect sexually.
Skill 1: Take an Interest in your Partner
Your first focus should be on what is happening in your relationship, OUTSIDE the bedroom.
Rather than going straight into sex, work at becoming friends again. Re-building fondness, appreciation and respect for each other will increase the goodwill between you, before you tackle firing up the sexual side of your relationship.
Skill 2: Bring Back the Novelty!
One of the common things that couples face as they spend more time together is slipping into boring routines. Instead of the excitement and freshness of the early days together, you may become complacent, focusing instead on the everyday mundane but necessary things.
You may also be choosing to live on the safe side of life; doing things that are secure and familiar. For instance, you go to the same cafe, invite over the same group of friends.
How often are you trying new things together? There should be a constant sprinkle of novelty for both of you to keep the relationship alive. According to relationship research, making an effort to go on regular dates – which includes doing something new and unusual – is an effective antidote to boredom and discontent. Couples who try exciting new activities together report being in happier relationships!
Being able to go out and enjoy each other’s company is the cornerstone of every strong healthy relationship. In the early stages this is easy, as you are excited as a couple to see each other.
However when things become more serious between you, you might start staying in more: you might have a big day at work the next day; money is stretched; etc. So when you finally get around to having a date together you argue about all of the things that you have been unable to raise at home – money, children, household chores, etc.
Skill 3: A Surrender Date
The pure expected enjoyment of date night may be ruined by the roles that you play in the relationship – for example, one of you might be the “organiser”, and is always expected to look after things, while the other person is more of a “passenger”, which means that date night just becomes another thing for the organiser to handle.
A way to combat this is to organise a “surrender date”. Both partners agree to give the less dominant person the control to make all of the decisions for the date.
Adopting this approach is a really positive way to improve the imbalance of power in the relationship, and allows partners to view each other differently. It may also give the less dominant person a confidence boost.
In this role play, the less dominant partner must do everything – from organising a babysitter to selecting what the other partner will wear, what transport is needed, choosing the restaurant, movie, timing etc.
The great thing about this technique is that it not only gives the couple the opportunity to spend time together on a date, but it also mixes up the couple’s preferred roles in the relationship.
Skill 4: Get Kissing!
Kissing is good for your health – and for your relationship! It can help reduce stress while at the same time promote a good sex life by keeping your loving feelings alive; and fostering a sense of familiar and an inner calm with your partner.
According to Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of “The Science of Kissing”, the human lips are the body’s most exposed erogenous zone. Packed with sensitive nerve endings, even a light brush on the lips sends a cascade of information to our brains, helping us to decide whether they want to continue and what might happen next. An electric impulse bounces between the brain, lips, tongue and skin, which can lead to the feeling of being on a natural high because of the potent cocktail of chemical messages involved.
These are the same chemicals that flood our bodies in the first throes of romantic love; the feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, adrenalin, and oxytocin.
Kissing is an under-rated activity that is very easy to do with your partner, and it sets you aside from just being friends. You get to freely come up and passionately kiss your partner or peck them on the cheek; nobody else gets to do that!
Renowned relationship expert, Dr John Gottman, recommends incorporating a six second kiss into your everyday life; it is an expression of love that helps to reduce stress levels in both partners.
Here are some other pointers to ensure kissing becomes more frequent in your relationship:
- Sit down with each other and discuss how you both like to be kissed. It might surprise you that your partner enjoys some forms of kissing more than others.
- Show each other what you like – and get kissing!
- Start practising. Begin to kiss each other every time you say hello, or goodbye.
- Kiss each other in the morning and at night time.
- Once a day make sure that you have a six second kiss with your partner.
Skill 5: Create Intimacy
Change the way you look at foreplay: it starts OUTSIDE the bedroom!
Rather than seeing foreplay as just a sexual act, work out all the things you do for each other outside the bedroom as part of it. This is all about creating intimacy and closeness. It can be as simple as running errands, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the house and giving out praise and compliments. If your love life isn’t great, then perhaps you are not creating intimacy on a day to day basis with your partner.
Monogamy without Monotony
Here are some practical ways to help you ensure that monogamy does not have to mean monotony!
- Take some time and both of you write down 5 practical, non-sexual ways that you can build intimacy with each other outside of the bedroom, eg. household chores and acts of kindness.
- Share these with each other – and then begin to do these activities on regular basics. The more they occur, the greater capacity there is for intimacy to be maintained.
- Now turn your attention to the bedroom. Discuss your sexual expectations with each other. Be honest about what your likes and dislikes are, frequency, who initiates and what does romance look like for you as a couple.
- Find some common ground about how you both want to run your sex life. It must be an agreement that sits comfortably with both of you, eg. what is the right amount of sex a week, preferred positions, the type of foreplay desired.
- Check in with each other regularly to see if you are both happy with the levels of sex and intimacy in your relationship.
Finally, if the idea of discussing this appears too awkward or frightening, then you might want to consider jointly going to a qualified Sex Therapist to learn new ways to create sexual intimacy in your relationship.
Author: Linda Thomson, B Arts, Social Science, Human Services, Masters of Counselling, Master Social Work Studies, Social Work, Member – AASW.
Linda Thomson has many years of experience in different fields of counselling, and has also managed counselling services in the not-for-profit sector. She has been involved in training and mentoring counsellors, and providing professional supervision.
Linda has extensive training in and a passion for relationship counselling and especially sex therapy, as she believes that it is such an important and often misunderstood part of our lives.
Please call 1800 877 924 or book online to make a confidential appointment with Linda Thomson.