Stolen glances, exhilarating kisses, flirtatious messages—brand new relationships are fueled by the natural chemistry between two people. But how do you maintain the spark in your relationship 10, 20, 30 years down the road? First thing to remember is that the intensity we feel in the beginning isn’t sustainable, nor is it meant to be. It would be awfully hard to hold down a job and take care of a family if your body was in a constant overdrive state, hormones and endorphins surging all day and night. Over time, things may cool down in the bedroom but we begin to deepen our partnership in ways beyond the physical.
While it’s normal for passion to ebb and flow, it’s always smart to check in with your doctor about any sudden changes in libido, sexual function and enjoyment or arousal, as they may be related to an underlying medical condition, age-related hormone fluctuations or a new medication that you’re taking. Chances are good, though, that what you’re experiencing is simply a need to rediscover what drew you together in the first place. And although there may not be a magic potion, there is plenty of research to suggest that some simple actions can go a long way toward helping you to find that spark again.
You know that exercise reduces your risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and can curb stress. And it turns out a trip to the gym can help with your relationship, too. Not only can exercise increase sexual drive, but it can also boost satisfaction for both men and women. A Harvard University study of swimmers in their 40s and 60s revealed that those who engaged in a regular fitness routine reported high levels of sexual activity and enjoyment.
Strike a Pose
Cardio and weight-training may boost your sex drive, but gentler forms of exercise can help rekindle your passion as well. Research suggests that engaging in regular yoga practice can be energizing and even make sex more enjoyable, possibly by toning pelvic muscles, increasing blood flow and calming the mind. In one study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, women reported improvements in desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction after 12 weeks of yoga. A separate study of men found that their ratings of sexual function (things like desire, satisfaction, performance ability, confidence levels, ejaculatory control and ability to achieve orgasm) were higher after practicing over the same period of time.
The busy pace of daily life and all its responsibilities doesn’t always lend itself to regular sexual activity. Getting out of your comfort zone and your familiar surroundings, even for just a few days, can reawaken your senses—and your desire. Research has shown that people on vacation tend to be more sexually active. And a study of the female brain in particular showed that in order for most women to achieve orgasm, they need to feel relaxed and free from anxiety, yet another reason why taking a break from the stresses of everyday life can help bring some of the fun back to your sex life.
Go Climb a Rock
So how can you keep your passion ignited after your vacation is over? Try carving out time to explore new things with your partner, in the form of a good old-fashioned date. Scheduling a “date night” may sound be well-worn territory when it comes to spicing up your sex life but research suggests you can reap greater benefits if you skip the same “dinner and a movie” routine and try something new instead. Couples who participate in novel activities together report higher levels of satisfaction and arousal in their relationships. So learn to salsa dance, take up rock climbing or even just try a new restaurant each week—getting off of autopilot will likely draw you both into the “now,” help you enjoy your time together and stir up desire.