irritated, resentful? how to GET YOUR RELATIONSHIP BACK ON TRACK
Talk about it
Relationship experts maintain that a sexual relationship in trouble will not improve without communication. Michael Crowe, author of 'Overcoming Relationship Problems', advises that we stick to a few key principles of good communication, that is to be brief, positive, specific, to show empathy and to be sensitive to your partner's feelings.
For instance, 'I want you to be more loving' is too vague. Instead, say 'I would like us to kiss like we used to, instead of just kissing during sex'.
Keep expectations realistic
Try to ignore the common film portrayal of sex as always being spontaneous with both partners experiencing multiple orgasms.
"The reality is that sex has to be slotted into a busy family and working life," says Eithne Bacuzzi. "Realise that sex can encompass a wide range of experiences, from fantastic to disappointing to even dull, so try to accept that."
In fact, it is this pattern that will actually make you appreciate the times when you are having wonderful sex.
rekindle old feelings
Everyone enjoys being kissed, hugged and caressed, so reintroduce this into your relationship. A long, passionate kiss is surprisingly powerful and effective at making you feel reconnected.
Hold hands as you stroll together, enjoy downtime together, which is one of the best aphrodisiacs. Those times together provide the best backdrop to good sex so try to be creative with your time. Remember what attracted you to this person you fell in love with all those years ago and learn to appreciate those things once again.
use non-verbal communication
Many couples get into a rut of suggesting sex (verbally) to their partner as the way to initiate sex, but this can be a huge turn-off for both. Instead, encourage yourself to surprise your partner more often and, instead of shying away from it, enjoy initiating sex and being in control.
Dress in a way that makes you feel sexy and attractive before making your approach. If your partner doesn't want sex at that time, try again later and try not to take it as a negative.
back to bed
Aim for getting back to sleeping in your own bed together, without any children on board. One 38-year-old father of two highlights the impact not sleeping together has had on his relationship.
"There is no way I'm having more children even though my wife wants to go again," he says. "I haven't slept in the same bed with her for over six years and I don't intend on another six."
Tell the children there's a new rule in place regarding bedtime and stick to it -- use a reward chart for young children if necessary.
Foreplay is a must for women, particularly for those who are experiencing vaginal dryness or discomfort during sex after childbirth. If time is a problem, try to book the children in for a sleepover in a relative's house for the night (try 'swap nights' with siblings or friends, where you take their children one night, and they take yours another).
Also, if vaginal dryness persists, buy some over-the-counter vaginal lubricants and realise this is quite normal. If sensation is reduced for women after having children, consider regular pelvic floor exercises to increase muscle tone.
Eithne often sees women who expect too much of themselves too early. "They expect to suddenly shift into this sexual person on a weekend away," she says, "but it doesn't happen."
Instead, she urges both partners to demand some time for themselves without feeling guilty. She often suggests some form of exercise as part of this time, as it can also significantly improve confidence and energy levels.
"Time out is particularly effective for women as it helps them to think of themselves as individuals who deserve pleasure, not just mothers who are expected to look after others 24/7."
beware of the libido killers
Being irritated, resentful or hurtful will kill the possibility of good sex in the long and short term.
Some women admit to agreeing to sex with their husband but then lie still for the act with gritted teeth.
This is not fair to either party and leads to further resentment.
If there is a lot of conflict in the relationship, aim to sit down and talk to try to understand one another.
If this proves too difficult, consider couple counselling or talking to a sex therapist.
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