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How to Avoid a Sexless Marriage: 9 Tips From Happily Married Couples

Advice for the long game.

Ever heard of “new relationship energy”? It’s a phrase sex nerds love to throw around known and it refers to that intoxicating emotional state we all fall into during the early stages of a relationship. We get happy. We get horny. We can’t keep our hands off each other and have a lot of great sex in a lot of different locations. Unfortunately, all that is new eventually becomes not new. Sure, love is patient and love is kind, but love and marriage and sex also require a great deal of work to maintain over the years. If you don’t put in the effort to prioritize intimacy in marriage, bad things happen. Frustrations occur and phrases like sexless marriage start to creep in. So, what does the work look like? We talked to a variety of couples who have been married for more than 10 years about what they do to keep their marriage happy and sex life alive.

Don’t Ignore the Urge

There’s no time like the present. Most of the time, when we say we’re going to have sex later, it doesn’t happen. Maybe we’ve had a large meal, the kids are around, or we end up too tired. But if it’s worth bringing up in the first place, shut the door and get down to business. — Andi, 35

Be Vocal About Your Desires  

It comes down to exploring what you like in bed together and delivering pleasant surprises. Not every romantic gesture should be a surprise, of course. Consent is incredibly important. Make sure your partner is comfortable first. In a long-term relationship, you should be able to express your sexual fantasies openly, and always respect what they’re comfortable with. You may be surprised, yourself; some people with the most otherwise conservative personalities have the kinkiest minds. — Alex, 46

Make It an Adventure

Studies show that people who have adventures together enjoy richer, more enduring, and satisfying relationships. Adventuring deepens bonds and provides a kind of reservoir of common experience that can feed the relationship for years in the form of memory. Think about how people tend to have more sex when on vacation. It’s not just because they are away from the stresses of home: It’s because they are sharing an adventure. We make it a point to have adventures together, both sexual and otherwise. — Mark, 59

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Keep ’Em Guessing

Experimentation is great when you and your partner are both comfortable with it, but it’s certainly not necessary. Trying new things can be intimidating and put a lot of stress on your relationship. The key is to explore slowly and talk through it at every step. — Brad, 52

Get. On. A. Schedule.

Sometimes, we put sex on a schedule. We’ll make it a point not to eat too much, drink coffee, and occupy the kids with some TV. Sure, we may not be romantically in the mood, but that can change pretty quickly. — Grant, 44

Always Nurture the Emotional Connection

My best advice to maintaining intimacy comes way before you even get into the bedroom. It’s called maintaining an emotional connection, which does require attention, time, talking, and listening. Stay connected with your partner. The trouble usually seems to start when one or both members of the couple feels an emotional disconnect. Then the physical intimacy will tend to suffer. — Jeannie, 47

Make an Effort to Stay Open

Communication is crucial for us to share our likes and dislikes, as well as to relieve any potential jealousy in a way where we can appreciate our individuality. It feels great to have someone with whom you can tell or share anything without being judged. I want my wife to stay with me because she wants to, not just because we’re married. I make an effort for her to want to stay. — Matt, 49

Focus on the Positive

We have a gentle ritual for our lovemaking that involves our taking about a half hour to create strong orgasms for both of us, that are usually within a minute or two of each other. As we embrace after the orgasms, we observe that our love is strong, our life is very good, and we are so glad for that. For us, great sex is as much about our loving acknowledgment of each other and our gratitude for our lives together, as it is about pleasure. John, 75

Stay Spontaneous

After 18 years, our romance and sex life are still spectacular. In the early years of our marriage romance was easy to come by. Now, having grown into a family and becoming more relaxed in our relationship, the best way to keep the romance is with committed communication and the occasional pleasant surprise. Using surprise gestures of appreciation, love, and sexuality are a big part of keeping our relationship exciting, fun, and spontaneous. Sam, 52