Got Sex?

As I’ve mentioned a time or two, my all time favorite newspaper is The Wall Street Journal.  Monday, they ran an article about sex after marriage, as in – what happened to it?  Given the proximity to Valentine’s Day, I thought this might be something we could discuss in the lair.  How to keep or renew romance in a longtime relationship.

 temptation swansAccording to the WSJ article, a brain scan of someone in the early stages of love looks very similar to a brain scan of someone on drugs.  Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, goes into overdrive. As dopamine enables lovers to not only see rewards but also take action to achieve them, it contributes to a true roller coaster ride of emotion.  This, by the way, is the period I try to emulate in my novels.  I want my readers to feel as if they are falling in love – just like the heroine.  In this first stage of love, once the two individuals acknowledge their mutual lust, they just can’t get enough of each other – they take advantage of every chance they can get.  (Boy, I remember those years!) My stories end while the couple is in this early chemically induced passionate love, but in reality, this stage diminishes after one to three years.

 The next stage of a longterm relationship is a deeper bond that is not as romantically intense as that first stage.  By then, children may have resulted from the super-tired-momrelationship which adds a new element of stress on the couple.  Advancement in one’s career so as to afford those children and the larger accommodations they require adds even more stress.  Soon, both the husband and wife are falling into bed exhausted and the frequency of intimacy declines…and after decades pass declines again…and perhaps a bit later declines again.

Eventually one of the partners may miss the intimacy and connection of those earlier years and wish to reactivate that earlier lustful stage.  But how do you do that?

 BagpiperAccording to the WSJ article, research shows that trying something new together can help rekindle the fire.  Any kind of novelty pumps up the dopamine, so a new restaurant, hobby or new vacation spot works.  Okay – I can deal with that.  I like trying new things…like that trip to Scotland to research THE WHISKY LAIRD’S BED coming in July (sorry, couldn’t resist the plug 🙂 )

 The article also recommends “accidental” body contact and dancing.  Now you know I LOVE to dance.  I hadn’t thought of dancing as vital to keeping romance alive, but it makes sense.  There’s plenty of body contact as well as flirting with your partner on the dance floor.  I most definitely can follow that suggestion…Dancing

 But that’s as far as the article went.  So I’d like to add to their list on how to keep the fires burning –

  1. Get a room.  There’s something about staying in a hotel that ultimately leads to “testing the mattress.”  I haven’t a clue why it works, but it seems it does.
  2. Read Romance!!!  I believe there have been studies on the positive relationships between sexual satisfaction and reading romance.  I don’t care about the studies Casanova Codeand statistics because I know this – it works.  Need a rush of dopamine?  Read a romance and then find your partner.  You know what to do.

 So how about you?  Have you any suggestions on how to reinvigorate romance, or if it’s not in need of rekindling – just keeping it alive?  Has the “trying new things” led to positive results relationship-wise?  In line with keeping the home fires burning, I’m happy to choose a name from the folks leaving a comment to receive a book of their choosing from my backlist.  So chat with me.  Got sex?



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  • Amy Conley says:

    Is he coming for a visit?

  • Amy Conley says:

    “Get a Room” really is the number one way to rekindle the fire, even if it is just for one night! Now to just PROVE to hubby dancing would be the way into MY bed, at least. Yes, I know he hates dancing, he only ever danced with me on our first and only date and that, he will willingly admit was to get me into bed! He already knows it works, but refuses to use it again, silly man. As a matter of fact I am going to send him a link to this blog, maybe it will let him know the things I’ve known all along! But then again, he IS a M-A-N.

    • Amy – you have my sympathies. I feel in love with my husband when we met and he asked me to dance – and we’ve been dancing ever since. Sometimes we’re the first out on the floor.

      To Mr. Conley – foreplay truly starts on the dance floor. Perhaps the best gift for Valentine’s day would be couples dance lessons. Something new, something fun – you can only gain in this deal. 🙂

  • Mary Preston says:

    Getting away from the every day is a good idea. Holidays are a breath of fresh air.

    • Mary – Maybe that’s the ticket – getting away from the same-old, same-old in whatever way you can….but a hotel room, even for one night, is almost magical 🙂 .

  • flchen1 says:

    I think it’s true that escape or a change from routine can be helpful! Been enjoying a collection called Bedded Bliss by Kristina Wright that addresses some of this…

  • Patty L. says:

    Making time for each other is the biggest thing in my life. Change of scenery also helps. 😉

    • Patty L. –
      TIme seems so short these days – everyone wants a piece of it. I think the change of scenery helps a great deal. Right now – I wouldn’t mind a change of scenery to someplace warm LOL. I think i’ve forgotten what that would be like . 🙂

  • Shannon says:

    The something different combined with absence definitively helped my marriage. He was living in NC and I was in Washington, D.C. When we got back together, it was a mini-honeymoon that lasted a couple of months.

    Oddly enough during the marriage, I didn’t read romance until the end. I was totally career oriented and my reading was completely non-fiction or maybe Cosmo when I turned off the job.

    Dancing as foreplay. Time for some fantasy!

    • Shannon –

      I think a short absence works as an aphrodisiac but a long absence would be difficult, I think. Especially if kids were involved.

      As a business executive, I have to admit that I came late to reading romance as well. It didn’t seem professional. What a fool I was – all those wasted years. LOL 🙂

  • Becke Turner says:

    I’m a NYT fan, but Dad loved his WSJ.

    I think the expectations change as we age. After 42 years our bond is much deeper than earlier years. We travel a lot and rarely visit the same vacation spot. We also touch a lot, but it’s more about connection and less about sex.

    A friend and an avid romance reader said her husband loved her to read romance because he thought it caused her to always be “in the mood.” I thought that was a tribute to our craft!

    Watching sexy shows are great, but they don’t create enough of truly sensual movies. Most of them are just about the sex and those don’t work as well.

    • Becke –

      I probably should have mentioned that the article said that “imost people in marriages of 25 years of more are satisfied both in the relationship and sexually.” Which is fantastic IMO but it goes on to say sizeable numbers aren’t. If either partner wants to “fire” things up – this is the way research suggests it can be done.

      I just think it’s cool that the WSJ, which many believe is all business, would have this aritcle. 🙂

    • Forgot to add that I think men and women have different concepts of what constitutes a sensual movie. We women are a little more cerebral. LOL.

  • Becke Turner says:

    Oh sorry, just thought of something.

    New sexual “activities” also helps. I gave my dh a “little red book” that included multiple suggestions. He took it right to heart and we tried all of them.

  • Diana Huffer says:

    We have been married for 29 years, together 32 all total. We’ve been through a lot together — tragedy, drama, comedies, and joy. We express our love for each other in so many ways, like holding hands, looking at each other when we’re talking, light touches to playful pats. We experiment sexually, trying new positions while we were still limber (~LOL~), adding sex toys, etc. Granted, it’s not as intense as it was at first but it is always very intimate. BTW — the new positions often end in a laughing fit! It doesn’t pay to take each other too seriously sometimes! 😉

    • Congratulations on the 29 years, Diana!

      Another interesting tidbit from the article is that married couples have more sex than couples who are either dating or living together. I understand the dating, but I was surprised that married couples were more active than couples living together. I think it’s an acceptance and trust factor that leads to more frequent intimacy.

      LOL on the laughing fit. Have you been spying in our bedroom? 🙂 I agree it doesn’t pay to take each other too seriously at times 🙂

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Interesting article, Donna, though it’s sad to have that first flush of love explained away by chemical levels LOL!

    I think it’s making time for the little things that keeps romance alive. And being romantic outside the expected times of Valentine’s etc etc. Doc Cambridge is wonderful at both of those – like the bunch of daffodils he brought me ‘just because …’ or putting a little note on top of my work, so I’ll see it first thing in the morning or sending me an email about something he knows I’m really interested in. Oh, and he dances too 😉 *happy sigh*

    • Another fist pump for Doc Cambridge!

      Yes – Dancing is the key. If more men recognized the power of the dance floor, there’d be a lot more women with big grins on their faces. 🙂

      Your dh is definitely a keeper!

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Donna! Fun post! Grins. ANd I do love me some….dancing. Grins.

    Love your suggestion about “get a room”! Hahah! But so true

    I gotta say, love my DH more than I did when I married him, and in that deeper richer way you mentioned. Despite 2 kids. Grins.

    Only other suggestion is DO stuff together. Even if the kids are there. Make dinner together (more chances for an accidental graze…), do house projects, do yard stuff. Just BE there.

    Take drives. Talk.

    Hey, works for us!!

    • Good point on the long drives, Jeanne –

      Last weekend my dh went with me for an overnight booksigning/ talk trip because he was concerned about the weather conditions for driving. Consequently we benefited from the hotel room 🙂 and the long drive, and just killing time in-between events. It’s easy to “miss” each other even when living in the same house, Together time – even in a non-sexual sense – definitely tends the fires.

  • bn100 says:

    doing fun things together

  • Donna, what a fun post! Laughed in particular t at the hotel mambo being a solution. I wonder if it’s something to do with the fact that nobody fights over who cleans the bathroom when you’re staying in a hotel!

  • catslady says:

    We waited 15 yrs. before starting our family so we did new things and traveled but it definitely slows things up once the kids came lol. I wish we still could afford to do what we did before and had the energy we had before lol. I like the comfortable part of marriage now – we do have one night out a week – sometimes with friends/family which is nice and some dinners out or movies. Maybe if he ever gets to retire we could take a few trips 🙂

    • Catslady – I hear you on the lack of energy LOL.

      The comfort factor is one of the best parts of a longterm marriage. I think the article is saying that if you want to shake things up a bit, you need to climb out of the routine. Try something you’ve not tried before. I’ve got my fingers crossed that once my dh retires will be packing suitcases for trips more frequently. We’ll see.

  • Alana says:

    I´m still awed, that you can find an article like that in the wall street journal. 😉 Anyway, being in a relationship for 17 years next week, (half my life exactly, now) I´ve seen a lot of ups and downs. I think, the best way to keep the relationship alive is to give yourself and your partner the freedom to develop. On all levels but especially sexually. You can´t keep the fire burning by always treading the same old paths. Sometimes you just outgrow what you used to like and it´s not alyways easy to see that. I guess my tipp would be to stay openminded, read, keep yourself informed and take an interest in new things. Doesn´t mean you have to try everything. But watching myself and what I might like to try, helped us a lot. I used to think, that after the first few years you´d just work on keeping the relationship together. I never anticipated, that could even be better than it was in those first days. Now I know, it is possible. 🙂 I know, bad times, will come, they always do, but now I know, we´ll make it through.

    • Alana – So glad that you and your dh are on the right path. Love the open-mindedness tip.

      Yes – Love the WSJ. Today’s edition has an article on phone apps for couples. There was one that allows you to send kisses to your mate by tapping on a photo of his face 🙂 and sends a hug when you press the phone to your heart (or any other hard surface). It also has an article on shoes and the fashion industry – and an article about the lack of alcoholic beer at the Olympics. Apparently it’s raising a lot of grumbles.

  • Donna,

    Dancing with the Jazzman usually leads to me laughing, coz he is an….”interesting” dancer. 🙂 But then again, laughter will get me in the mood to snuggle, so maybe it works to watch him dance!

    • Hey – he gets points for getting out on the dancefloor – too many men don’t. It always drives me nuts when we go out dancing and I see all these people just sitting at the table watching the people dance. How boring is that?

  • Donna, you know I don’t much like dancing. It’s just not for me–except that I like slow-dancing with the dh.

    But I think a major boost for the romantic connection is talking, especially when it’s not about parental duties or job prospects or anything except what you’ve been thinking about or read or wondered or dreamed about.

  • It has been a LONG time for me, but I think any change of location is good. A new place gives you permission to get out of old patterns and to act like new people, rather than the same old “drudges” LOL !! Treating each other as special enough to dress up, really dress up, go out to eat, go to a show, go dancing and then go back to the hotel and finish the night up RIGHT ! Perhaps followed by showering together in the AM? The thing to do is break old patterns. Anything you can do to create new memories always has the potential to create new “THOSE” memories. 🙂

    • A change of location sets the tone for lots of “doing things differently,” doesn’t it? I like how you say the change allows you to not be the same old “drudges.” Perhaps after a long relationship, it begins to feel that way. Getting away let’s you fall in love again. I like that.

  • Lisa Reed says:

    As a relationship deepens, you start sharing responsibilities with the other person. With that, the time the couple shares is usually less sex oriented. After marriage, this trend can only get stronger: suddenly you have a mortgage, debt, the kids, the in-laws and what not.

    Finding time to get intimate with your partner is essential. A time where you will be sure no kids will walk in on you, you won’t be tired from daily life and you can heat up a room, just like you did in previous stages of the relationship.

    We all need, and deserve, to have nights where we can escape who we are and just be whoever we want to be: you can go dance, you can go simulate picking each other up in a coffee house or bar, or maybe get a good ole’ room somewhere nice and quiet. As they say, everything goes when it comes to love.