If only there were a candlelit bubble bath and a cup of tea waiting for us after a long day of work. Unfortunately, it's more likely that we're welcomed home by a to-do list that includes paying bills, food shopping and house cleaning, among other things.
And let's face it, when you're lying awake at night worrying about juggling it all, the last thing you probably feel like doing is being intimate with your partner.
One of the first studies to look at the relationship between stress and sex found that there are three types of stress that can affect life in the bedroom:
• Internal stress: Conflicts and tensions between a couple
• External stress: Work, finances, kids and family issues
• Critical stress: Unemployment, death of a loved one, serious illness
But interestingly, researchers found that internal stress is the major reason why women experience low or diminished desire. This means that while trying relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, may help you feel less stressed overall, they won't be much help pumping up the passion.
Instead, you need to work on your relationship. Maybe you and your partner are trying to get pregnant. Suddenly, sex has turned into something on the to-do list instead of something on the want-to-do list. This can create tension between you two, which, in turn, further dampens your ardor. Or maybe your partner was laid off because of the recession. You're trying to be supportive, but your partner has totally shut down and you feel shut out.
While some relationship problems, such as cheating, physical or emotional abuse, and substance abuse require professional help, many others can be remedied by making changes in your attitude and your relationship.
Here are 10 suggestions for reconnecting with your partner.
- Make a list. Learn about yourself and what brings you sensual and sexual pleasure. Tell your partner exactly what you like in bed. For instance, if there's a move or position you really love but haven't tried in years, try it the next chance you get.
- Make another list—for your partner. Include all the things that get you in the mood. It could be as simple as having your partner put the kids to bed and clean the kitchen after dinner so you can have some downtime or as complex as the both of you learning to communicate feelings so you can feel closer emotionally.
- Learn to play. Other than a board game or a game of catch with your kids, when was the last time you played with your partner? Have the two of you ever played? Well, now is the time. Try a round of golf in which you get a kiss for every stroke. Or feed each other your favorite foods: try licking whipped cream off each other's bodies or substitute some other pleasurable treat.
- Write love letters. Describe why you fell in love with each other and why you still love each other.
- Touch each other. For one week, spend time each day touching each other with the understanding that you will not have sex. Now imagine how you'll feel by day seven!
- Get another opinion. Ask a friend whose opinion you trust to describe your partner's and your best qualities.
- Get a couples massage.
- Get away. Out of the house—even out of town, if possible. Rent a room in a place and only leave the room for meals. Or, order room service! If the budget is tight, create romance wherever you can afford. Go out for an inexpensive romantic date one night a week. A moonlit walk in the park can be very romantic.
- Learn something new. Tell each other three things your partner does not know about you. Then have your partner do the same.
- Rent an adult movie or read passages from an erotic book to each other. Buy a flavored massage oil, share with your partner and play!
For more on sexual health and relationships, visit HealthyWomen.org.