We all hope our sex lives will stay as passionate as they were when we first met. But the sad truth is, in any long-term relationship sex can become boring and feel like less of a priority. So how do you keep the sparks flying? Best investigates…
‘I turned my husband into the perfect lover’
Cathy Kimber and her husband Roger, both 45, found that their love life had gone off the boil after years of marriage and two kids. But then Cathy discovered some new sensual delights…
When Roger and I first got together, our relationship was based on sex. We spent a lot of time in bed, but we had a good friendship as well. We were always going out with friends and having nice holidays-there were no responsibilities at all then.
But things changed for us after the birth of our children, Damien, now 24, and Gregory, 20. I was tired all the time and didn’t want to have sex. We were also under a lot of pressure because I’d stopped working and Roger had started studying. Life just wasn’t fun anymore.
We were no longer paying attention to each other’s needs as husband and wife and decided to go for some counselling. While talking things through made us realise that we were still in love-finding time for sex continued to be a problem. And even when we did make love-it wasn’t exciting anymore.
But when Damien left our home in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, in 1996 to go to university and I went back to work full-time, I started to feel sexy again. For the first time in years I felt like a woman as well as a mum.
I wanted to explore my sexuality and so, three years ago, I went along to a Tantric sex workshop with some girlfriends.
Tantra is a sensual approach to sex that comes from India. The idea is to reach spiritual enlightenment through physical pleasure. We were taught how to awaken our senses by experimenting with different tastes, smells and ways of touching.
When I first suggested the idea of going to a weekend couple’s workshop a month later, Roger wasn’t to keen. He’s a down to earth guy and so e thought it was a lot of airy-fairy nonsense. But he reluctantly agreed to come along and join in. Like me, he really wanted to ignite some passion in our relationship.
On the first night Roger was really bored and I was worried he’d end up ruining the whole weekend. But once he opened up to the idea and joined in, he became really interested. By the end of the course, he was a changed man!
Tantra isn’t just about sexual technique-it teaches couples how to appreciate all kinds of simple, sensual pleasure. We’d light candles, burn essential oils and take time giving each other a gentle massage.
We made more time for each other and had intimate discussions about our likes and dislikes. We’d caress each other with feathers or the tips of our fingers, and both of us would get excited long before we even thought about penetration. We also learnt how to accept pleasure without feeling guilty. One night Roger would treat me to a massage and I’d just lie there enjoying it, and the next night it would be his turn.
It reawakened so many feelings and made us realise how deeply we still felt about each other. And once you fall in love all over again, the sex just follows automatically.
Our sex life is even better now than when we first met. They say the average session lasts just six minutes, but with us it’s usually two or three hours. Before we were only making love every three weeks or so, but now we have sex about twice a week.
Tantra teaches you how to concentrate on your breathing rather than focusing on your pelvis, so the sex can go on for as long as you want it to. We’ve even set aside a special room for our Tantric encounters.
Roger and I feel much closer now, too, and we’re always touching each other. We hold hands when we’re out and cuddle up to each other when we’re sitting on the sofa.
We’ve talked to our sons about our renewed passion for sex. While Gregory finds the whole subject embarrassing, Damien and his girlfriend don’t mind talking about it and have even became curious about the whole idea of Tantra.
You can’t keep making love in a Tantric way all the time, but it has made us rethink our approach to sex. We’ve also watched the odd blue movie and tried some sex toys for fun. It’s just something different. Whether you have a long, lingering lovemaking session or a furious, passionate quickie-it’s all part of a loving relationship.
Roger says “I wasn’t particularly interested in the Tantra workshop at first and only really went along for Cathy’s sake. But now I think it was one of the best things that could have happened to out marriage.
“For me, it isn’t even just about the sex-Tantra has taught Cathy and me to have more of an understanding of each other. If you want to have a lasting intimate relationship, you need to be really dedicated to making things work.”
Feature by Mark Chadbourne
10 tips for long-lasting love…
Psychosexual therapist Paula Hall has 10 tips to help you make love to the same man for the rest of your life.
1. Communication is important. Open up and be honest about what you like and what you don’t like in bed. I’ve met couples who never talk and never kiss and then wonder why they’re not having sex!
2. Tune in to your needs. What turns you on and where do you like to be touched?
3. Maintain physical contact outside the bedroom, too. Hold hands or sit close together on the sofa, and try sharing baths.
4. Try to stay healthy and free from stress. You need to keep your energy levels high to enjoy a good sex life.
5. Make plenty of time for each other
6. Let go of your inhibitions and don’t be afraid to experiment when you have sex. Spice things up by trying new positions and locations.
7. Read or watch something that stimulates your desire-it could be a sexy scene in a novel or a film that turns you on.
8. Go out and treat yourself to some pretty lingerie. Keeping the romance alive is all about doing things that make you feel sexy and, that means slipping on a pair of frilly smalls.
9. Flirt with your partner. Send saucy text messages to each other during the day.
10. Learn to take responsibility for your own sex life-don’t always leave it up to your man to initiate things. Women are very good at blaming men for an unsatisfactory sex life, but it takes two to have an explosive orgasm.
It’s not only possible to have a great sex life in a long-term relationship-it’s necessary. “Sex is an essential expression of intimacy,” says Paula Hall, Relate’s psychosexual therapist. “But everyone needs to accept that, at some point in their lives, they’re not going to be up for it. Stress, illness and certain life changes make us feel less sexy. And after a while, sex can become a routine.”
The first lustful period of any relationship lasts for just six to 18 months. During the initial flush of romance, the brain releases a chemical called oxytocin that encourages pair- bonding. But once the brain decides you’ve bonded, the oxytocin switches off and so does the desire to make love.
“You can still have hot sex in a relationship-you just have to work at it,” says Paula. “If time is an issue, learn to enjoy a passionate quickie. Dash off and seize the moment once the kids are out of the way. You need to use the obstacles to make sex more interesting. If you adapt, you can carry on having a fantastic sex life.”