Easy Tips to Bring Back that Loving Feeling

Couple in bed kissing

When my husband and I met about seven years ago we had an insane and incredible daily sex life. About three years ago I became ill (involving major changes to my lifestyle and our relationship dynamic) and it took until about four months ago to finally figure out what was going on and begin to overcome it. I am happy to say that I feel better than I have in years, and am well on my way to physical recovery.

On to the dead bedroom part - many of the symptoms of my illness were literally a perfect recipe for destroying a sex life. I was constantly fatigued, depressed, gained a lot of weight and felt ugly, lost a lot of weight and felt like a shell of a person, weight fluctuation made my boobs saggier and uneven, I had surgery and have scars, my hair fell out, things like dressing up, date nights, going to wax appointments, etc. were all just way too hard for me given that just making it work and doctor appointments took literally all of my energy. Etc.

As a consequence, we've had sex probably less than a handful of times in the last three years, and haven't had sex at all in over a year. Despite all of this, my husband has been endlessly patient, has put no pressure on me, and affirms that he knows we'll get back on the same page sexually one day and that he's just happy to see me becoming healthy again.

I really want to be intimate again. Not just emotionally/psychologically but also I finally feel sexy and sexual again for the first time in ages. The problem is, it's been so long that I feel really, really awkward? Like we used to have pretty intense, "porn-y" sex (kinky, dirty talk, etc.) and the idea of going from zero to that is paralyzing me.

How to relish the routine

According to a psychiatrist and best-selling author Dr. Gail Saltz, maintaining and cultivating intimacy makes a huge difference. Below she shares the most common roadblocks and the best way to get back on track.

You have sex with your husband even though you don't really want to.

It's late, you're tired, but your husband initiates sex, and it seems like less effort to simply go along with his wishes than to start a fight. Many women buy into the idea that you have to be passive and agreeable and give your man what he wants. But it's not really giving if you're not a willing participant. What gets most men really excited is seeing their wives aroused. True, he may appreciate that it's better than having no sex, but he certainly can tell the difference between an enthusiastic partner and a boring lump. Giving in, rather than figuring out how to make sex enjoyable for you too, is not the answer. You're denying yourself the intimacy and the fun you could be having.

The fix: So what's holding you back? Maybe you resent the fact that your spouse isn't taking your fatigue or discomfort into consideration. So talk to him — feelings like that should always be addressed. Remember, your husband wants just as good a sex life as you, and shared intimacy is a great start.

Neither you or your husband is interested in getting intimate.

It's important to acknowledge that having a sex life doesn't have to only mean sexual intercourse. Intimate contact of any kind between you and your spouse counts. But with that said, humans have an innate desire to touch, cuddle, and feel. So if you lack interest in even these things, there is more than likely an underlying psychological reason (guilt about sex, low self-esteem, depression, or dissatisfaction with your relationship).

The fix: Acknowledging that there may be an issue is half the battle. First, rule out anything medical by having your hormone levels checked. Then talk to your spouse about anything that may be inhibiting you from wanting to be intimate. Maybe you're ashamed of your body, maybe you have performance anxiety, etc. Starting a dialogue may be difficult, but a few awkward moments are certainly worth it if the result is a far more fulfilling relationship.

You want to make love and your husband doesn't.

Wanting more sex than your husband can be very embarrassing, and women take it very personally. It can lead you to wonder, "What's the matter with me?" or "Is he having an affair?" The truth is, a lot of men suffer from low libido and don't know how to talk about it.

The fix: It's important to discuss his lack of interest in a supportive and loving way. Avoid becoming distressed because it may drive him further away. Working to resolve the problem together can help bring you closer.

You have low desire and you don't know why.

The best way to know is to get checked out by your gynecologist. Other things to note: Testosterone (the hormone of desire) drops after menopause. And estrogen replacement therapy can also lower testosterone. Certain medications (antihypertensives, antidepressants, sedatives, antihistamines, ulcer medications, and oral contraceptives) can also decrease desire. Postmenopausal women who are not on hormone replacement therapy may also experience decreased lubrication and thinning of the vaginal walls, which can make sex painful.

The fix: Your doctor can prescribe replacement testosterone (although it is controversial, due to risky side effects). Estrogen and vitamin E creams can help if you're experiencing dryness.
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