As Jane Greer, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, puts it, having sex with the same person over and over again is a lot like playing the same song on repeat: You may love it at first, but with each time you do (or hear) it again, it gets a little less exciting. "Eventually, you'll want to play it less and less often," she says.
But a stale sex life is, unfortunately, normal. "It's not uncommon for married couples who have been together for several years to find that their sexual desire and passion seem to peter out from a strong fire to smoldering ashes," says Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., sex expert and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive. But it doesn't have to stay that way. Here, our experts give you nine tips to get that fire going again (or never lose it in the first place).
1. Give yourself some sexy reflection time.
Time to reflect on what turns you on. Explains Castellanos, "By blocking off just a few minutes a day to individually focus on positive thoughts and memories of your sex life, you are reinforcing erotic thinking and openness to later arousal. It only takes about three to five minutes to help refocus your brain on those things that trigger excitement and pleasure."
2. Make a sexual wish list.
If you've got sexual fantasies, it's time to put pen to paper. Then, says Greer, "share your lists with each other and gain a more intimate look of what your partner might be fantasizing about or what turns them on. Maybe you'll say no to some things, but compromise and offer to try out some of the other items on the list. The list can be anywhere from three to five things that are on your mind."
3. Don't skimp on the date nights.
Being married is no excuse to forgo dating. "In fact, dates provide a sense of variety that help stimulate the dopamine system to create stronger arousal and responsiveness," says Castellanos. "To make this effect even a little more potent, pick a place or an activity that's new for you both to share together."
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4. Get your game night on.
And we're not talking board games. "The main idea is to make sex fun again," says Greer, "so introduce a game, like strip poker, for example. Eventually both of you lose and have taken all your clothes off, and this is a great way to have sexual fun together."
5. Don't forget foreplay.
Says Castellanos, "Before you both got together, it may have seemed that foreplay was used as a negotiation to decide whether you were going to have sex. And consequently, the amount of foreplay seems to drop off as couples already know they want to sleep with each other." But foreplay is an essential part of arousal she says, and adding it back in to your regular sexual routine could "contribute to stronger erections for him, and stronger orgasms for her," she says.
6. Try out show-and-tell.
Rather than simply ticking off what you'd like to try out, Greer suggests starting a sexy game of show-and-tell. "Show your partner where your hot spots are," she says. "Sometimes people forget or just don't have the patience. Ask your partner to show you where they think your spots are, and then show them the rest."
7. Change your sheets.
Having better sex can be as simple as slipping on new sheets. "Putting on a clean set of sheets that you love can force the brain to pay a little more positive attention to arousal," explains Castellanos. "Choose sheets that feel yummy on your skin and create a sense of sexiness in your mind."
8. Change locations.
Another easy way to keep things exciting is to stay out of the bedroom and get it on somewhere else. "Keep it fresh and new by always trying new places and new positions," says Greer. "Maybe the shower, the kitchen, on the dining room table. Try to shake it up and make it different so that it brings in an element of the unknown."
9. Learn how your partner likes to be invited to have sex.
"So many couples incorrectly assume that they can perfectly read each other's signals when it comes to letting each other know they'd like to get frisky," says Castellanos. Instead, "it's best to have a playful conversation at a neutral time and ask each other how they best like to be asked for sex. You may be surprised at what you find at this simple way of opening up the lines of communication."