The 3 Keys to Navigating Your Sex-Life in a Long-Term Relationship

Statistically, sex is among the top 5 things that couples fight about and is one of the touchiest topics in most relationships. More than almost any other, this is an area where we see communication being most difficult for couples.

A healthy sex life in a committed partnership requires intimacy and vulnerability on a level that most couples are just completely uncomfortable with and people, in general, are a lot more likely to pretend they are satisfied with the situation than to speak up about it to make a change.

Sex as it is experienced in the dating world (and even early on in relationships) is usually the farthest thing from actual intimacy, so when the relationship reaches a point where true intimacy is what is needed, we usually don't know what to do about it or even how to get there.

This is where a couple will often see their sex-life die. And because they don't know how to process this together in healthy ways, they develop an emotional distance and even resentment because of it.

Truly, sexual intimacy is one of the most important ways that we affirm Love and connection in an intimate partnership and when this is missing or challenging, every other aspect of the relationship will likely be affected by it.

If you want a thriving relationship, this is an area that cannot be avoided and you'll have to create some situation in which both partners are satisfied and happy. This post is designed to be a guide for navigating this challenging situation using the tools we've developed through years of coaching individuals and couples.

#1 You have to recognize that your sex life will, as will everything else about the relationship, change over time.

Most relationships follow a natural progression around sex that looks something like this: A lot in the beginning, followed by less and sometimes none at all. Certainly, there are variations to this, but most couples can relate.

This is not a negative thing. In fact, couples who cling to the way it was early on are usually in for a lot of trouble as all relationships will go through many changes and evolutions and you have to learn to adapt to them together. It's important though that these transitions are made consciously and with good communication addressing the needs of both partners so that one or both partners don't feel disregarded.

The challenge here is that when your sex life begins to change, you, your partner, or both begin to think that means that something is wrong. This first change usually takes place somewhere in the 3-6 month period, at which point, you most likely have not become expert communicators with each other.

Asking for what you need in any area of a relationship can be extremely challenging, but asking for what you need in a sexual way, can multiply that challenge by 100 or more. Especially when we consider the amount of shame around sex that is propagated in our society, many people are unwilling to even admit they have sexual needs.

What often happens at this point is that open communication gets shut down and we revert to less healthy ways of attempting to get what we want and need, i.e. passive-aggressiveness, picking fights, making quippy comments, and so on.

Couples who do not develop more healthy ways of getting through this together will either split up or end up living in resignation in an unfulfilling partnership.

Part of a healthy relationship is accepting all aspects and needs of your partner. Their sexual needs are valid and important and if they're not considered, your relationship will suffer.

To allow your sex life to grow and heal, you have to have a mutual recognition that you both have needs in this area and learn to discuss and communicate those needs openly with each other. No matter how uncomfortable this may be, do not avoid or disregard discussing these things together.

One of the services we offer is in creating an environment where you can have these discussions together and we help to mediate them. For more information on that, click here.

#2 A healthy Sex Life requires effort. Be willing to give that to your relationship.

The fact is that in the beginning, sex comes easily and naturally but as time goes on, it requires more effort. Again, this is not a bad thing, but if it is not acknowledged and addressed directly it will lead to a lot of confusion and frustration between both partners.

In this way, sex is not much different than other aspects of a relationship. In the beginning, most things come easy. As time goes on, your relationship will always require a higher level of intention and effort to sustain a healthy environment. This is what makes the difference between couples who succeed and those who don't.

The fact that the success of your sex-life (and the relationship) is requiring a greater level of effort from you both is not a problem, it's an opportunity--an opportunity to demonstrate your Love and commitment to each other and deepen the connection between you as a result of that.