How do I avoid the 'seven-year itch' in my marriage?
Every long-term relationship goes through phases where the romance drops off, and it starts to lack the excitement of something new. So what are you supposed to do now? Re-create that sense of something new! Think about it: When you’re in a new relationship, you never let the other person see you looking like a hot mess, and you definitely never let them see you doing your business in the bathroom. But once you’re in a long-term relationship, you stop buying the sexy lingerie, you stop trying to create an air of mystery, and you settle into your routine—farting included. But when you're having a great, exciting time with the person you're with, you won’t feel the itch for someone else. Here are a few things you can do to keep the fun going, hopefully forever.
Spend More Time Apart
It seems like counterintuitive advice to recommend making yourself scarce in an effort to keep your relationship thriving, but studies have shown that couples enjoy being separated from their partners. They especially like longing for them, then passionately reuniting again. It’s good to be away and miss each other like you did when you first fell in love. Spend more time with friends, family, or just be alone.
Often when we are coupled, we trade hanging out and laughing with our friends for monotonous Netflix-and-chill sessions with our significant others. So hire a babysitter (if you have kids, obviously) and go out with the girls. Your partner can see you all dolled up when you leave, and then see you all dolled up when you come home. Or, if you can, go away for an entire week and see how great it feels to miss each other.
Two Words: Road Trip
If you can’t spend much time apart, travel somewhere, anywhere, together. Doing so invites an element of surprise and makes the relationship feel alive, like when you were first dating—not to mention, vacay sex is always the best because you're in a new place, a new bed, and a new headspace. If you can’t go far, opt for a staycation and do something different in your town; See a band, go to a bar where you can dance, or watch a parade. Anything works as long as you're able to re-create the feeling of newness.
Go out of Your Comfort Zone
Do something you’ve never done before. If you want to give your sex life a boost, try going to a sex class at a sex toy shop. As someone who has been to several of them (Babeland in Seattle, Good Vibrations in San Francisco, and the Pleasure Chest in New York and Los Angeles) be assured you'll get hooked—I did. They have tons of sex classes that always leave me with a smile and some killer new sex techniques to try. (The Pleasure Chest reports that their two most popular classes are the “Fellatio” and “Cunnilingus” classes.) Even smaller towns have them now, and they're always packed with other couples, so you don’t have to feel awkward going to them. The instructors even make sure to keep the classes light and funny so you don’t have to feel embarrassed if someone you know sees you there.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
If you're married or in a long-term relationship, do something wild like a walk through a swinger's party, just to take a look and get turned on. You don't have to participate. Just watch. (If it's your first time it will blow your mind and turn you on.) Or have sex in a new place. Don't have sex in the same way, at the same time, or in the same position. Make a bucket list of things you’d like to try. If you've never watched porn together, watch it; If you’ve never read erotica, read some (to each other). Try Tantric sex—it's a whole, fascinating sex world unto itself. Explore and expand your sexuality. The idea is to experiment with something different. The more novel experiences you share, the deeper your relationship will get.
Oh, and don’t stop flirting with each other. That never gets old.
Anka Radakovich is a couple’s counselor, certified sexologist, and sex therapist. Follow her on Twitter @ankarad.