It's a simple but sad fact: Sometimes having sex with the same person over and over no longer does it for you. "In the beginning of the relationship, the brain is bathed in dopamine, boosting excitement and attention," explains Madeleine Castellanos, M.D, sex therapist and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive. "But after time passes and dopamine naturally declines, being drunk in love becomes a more sober reality.
Once this happens, sexual arousal may take more conscious effort." But take heart: You can still have the hot sex you crave. "Learning to nurture your sexual relationship in your marriage is the best way to keep sex passionate, connected, and exciting," says Castellanos. "By learning to enhance all the positive aspects of your sexual relationship, it will continue to flourish for years to come." Here's how.
1. Fantasize about the hottest sexual memories with your spouse.
Castellanos recommends that you take a little time each day to recall positive sexual memories with your partner. "This helps prime your brain for attention and kick-starts arousal," she explains. "When you focus on the positive aspects of your sexual relationship, you are more likely to dive deeper into arousal and sexual playfulness."
2. Focus on both your satisfaction.
As in any aspect of your relationship, only giving or receiving can feel empty. "If you or your partner are acting like you're doing one another a favor, or if you let your inhibitions stop you from giving yourself or your partner the thrills you need, you will never get the brain chemistry your body and mind both crave," warns Gloria Brame, Ph.D., sexologist and author of The Truth About Sex: A Sex Primer For The 21st Century. "Lack of satisfaction is what drives people to cheat."
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3. Discover what you need to be turned on.
Be reflective about what needs to be in place in your life and your surroundings for you to get turned on, Castellanos says. Ask: "Do you have to have the dishes done? Do you prefer for both of you to be showered? Do you need to be wooed? Make sure that you honor the erotic space in your relationship by setting the stage for sexual success rather than frustration."
4. Use sex to bond with your spouse.
"The beautiful truth about sex in couples is that the more you have, and the more you enjoy it, the more intense your chemical bond grows," says Brame. "Studies have shown that intimacy alters our brains for the better." And because of that, she says, "I encourage couples to have sex as often as it feels good, knowing that the more intimate they are today, the more intimate they will become in the future. It's a beautiful thing."
5. Add some adventure into your relationship.
You may not think you need novelty, but "when you add adventure into your relationship, it increases dopamine and makes everything feel more exciting and deep," explains Castellanos. "This can be as simple as doing an activity together that you have never done before such as climbing a rock wall or surprising each other with a mystery date. Even something as simple as visiting a new place or talking about a sexual fantasy can increase dopamine enough to spice things up significantly."