Sex can be an important part of romantic relationships. While it’s easy to confuse intimacy or love with passion and arousal, they’re separate pieces of the relationship puzzle, each needing attention for a healthy and satisfying sexual relationship. It’s normal for sexual desires to shift and change over the course of your relationship (and through the ups and downs of military life), so try these 6 strategies to keep your sexual relationship thriving.
1. Build communication skills and talk openly about sex.
Honest, forthcoming conversations about sex should start early in your relationship to establish a strong foundation. Good communication about sex in a romantic partnership can lead to greater sexual satisfaction and a more fulfilling relationship.
Physically satisfying sex requires coordination and communication between partners. Talking about sex enables you to plan sexual encounters and explore how your partner likes sex to be initiated. As you grow as a couple, you create a shared meaning about your joint sex life.
Open discussions ensure you both remain engaged and content. Disclosing your desires and fantasies to your partner and listening in return is an opportunity for connection. When a relationship develops into marriage and then possibly parenthood, a couple’s sex life and sexuality are likely impacted. Having a strong foundation of healthy communication about sex from the beginning can help you persevere through relationship transitions.
Talking about sex also enables you and your partner to establish the mutual value of sexual health and discuss any sexual health risks you might experience. Open up about your sexuality and sexual history. If you have concerns about sexually transmitted diseases, know the signs, prevention and risk factors, and treatment options.
2. Get on the same page about expectations and frequency of sex and sexual activities.
It’s common for both partners to have differing sex drives. When they’re significantly different, though, it can cause problems. Frequency and type of sex are common topics of argument. Talking about your sex needs is key in resolving such issues.
Unfortunately, not much is known about what defines too little or too much sex. Some people are content with having sex 3 times a day, while others are content not having sex at all. The general rule of thumb is that if partners are happy with the amount of sex in their relationship, then they’re having a healthy amount of sex.
Many factors can affect frequency of sex, including sexual history, history of abuse, gender differences, hormone levels, relationship problems, and genetics. In the end, there’s no clear answer. However, if you’re worried about the amount of sex or the types of sexual behaviors you’re engaging in, then you might need professional help.
3. Prepare for the realities of military life.
Physical and geographic separations are a reality for military couples. Deployments can build or break sexual intimacy due to many factors. The length of time apart and type of deployment mission can play roles. The status of your relationship before deployment and your individual personalities also can affect your sex life. Finally, experiences during deployment can influence sex and intimacy upon your return.
The vast majority of deployed Military Service Members are separated from their partners for months (or years) without intimacy and sexual activity. Being separated means that couples have limited access to sex, touch, and physical intimacy. What’s good is that partners can use video calls to stay connected. While some also use it to build intimacy and be sexual, privacy can be a concern.
Before you leave, talk with your partner about how you both will handle your sexual desires while apart. Maintaining open communication about this topic can help you feel connected, and it’s a way to build and maintain intimacy while deployed.
4. Consider your Total Force Fitness.
Sex can be a vital part of your overall health and military wellness. Many things can affect your interest and ability to have satisfying sex. For example, injury, illness, or substance or medication use can all affect sexual desire and motivation. If you’re both physically healthy, then look at schedule changes, sleep, nutrition, and other areas.
Since the most important sex organ is your brain, any distractions—such as stress or relationship troubles—will reduce your interest in sex and make it difficult to enjoy. If you have kids, they can also distract you and make it tougher to want and enjoy sex. Brainstorm with your partner how you can de-stress and eliminate some distractions. Tip: Try setting a sex date where you both commit to focusing on each other and being intimate.
5. Build intimacy out of the bedroom.
Love is a crucial part of choosing a partner, but genuine connection is a big part of making your relationship last. Partners who are friends and lovers tend to be happier in the long run. Building intimacy requires focused attention as well. Continue learning about your partner no matter how long you’ve been together. It can be as simple as asking questions and listening to each other’s answers.
- “What is it about yourself that you’re most proud of?”
- “What attracted you to me when we first met?”
- “What’s your happiest memory from childhood?”
- “What would you like to see happen for us in the next 5 years?”
- “Who are your best friends at this point in your life?”
You can build a friendship together just by talking about mutual and individual experiences, wants, and dreams. Remember to show curiosity and genuine interest, and respect your partner’s answers.
6. Try something new.
It’s common for sexual desire to change over time, and even normal for it to decrease in long-term relationships. And while that might be OK for some couples, if you’re looking to reignite the sexual spark, there are certainly ways to do so even if you’ve been together for a long time. Novelty is the one of the best ways to refresh a stale sexual relationship.
Start by thinking about what you’d like to try in the bedroom. And think about what you’d be willing to try if you partner wanted to. Then have a conversation about exploring some of those things together. Not sure how to navigate it yourself? Consider using an existing list or other resource to help you and your partner get some ideas to guide the conversation.