My wedding night was ever so romantic. After the event itself and a two-hour postnuptial dance party, my husband and I staggered up the stairs to our apartment. It was 4:00 A.M., our feet hurt, and we had the beginnings of killer hangovers. Fooling around was about the last thing either of us wanted to do. But you always hear that marriage destroys your sex life—and I thought remaining celibate on this most special of nights would be a symbolic nail in the coffin of our mutual lust. I was determined to consummate this marriage—even though we'd been having sex for six years.
But my fear that marriage can ruin good sex is not unfounded, although marriage itself shouldn't take the blame. "The number one reason relationships fail is because we stop trying," says Ava Cadell, Ph.D., a sex therapist and author of The Stock Market Orgasm. "Marriage equals routine, and routine sex becomes predictable and monotonous." Your sex life, like your relationship in general, requires effort to keep it on track. Luckily, in this case, the work isn't such a chore. Here, Cadell offers eight easy ways to keep the wheels of lust and love in motion.
Don't Forget the Sweet Nothings.
Because feeling sexy is tied up with feeling confident, newly-marrieds need to keep flattering each other, says Cadell. "You must compliment your partner each and every day." Tease, cajole, and play with your partner, just like you did when you were dating.
Make Out Like Teenagers.
Forget that chaste hello and goodbye peck. "The top mistake couples make is that they stop kissing passionately," Cadell says. She recommends a good, long (read: at least 10 seconds) kiss in the mornings before work and at night. It will instill passion and confidence and keep the sexual part of your brain awake. So keep the Listerine handy and pucker up.
Keep it Physical.
Even when you're not being overtly sexual, it's important to maintain affection and touching with your partner. "Hold hands, touch, cuddle, caress your partner," says Cadell. "It keeps sexuality alive."
When life, work, and family pressures stack up, it's easy to let lovemaking become just one more item on your "to do" list. And that's a huge mistake. One way to prevent sex from being a chore is to get in touch with your inner seducer or seductress. "Instead of undressing and jumping into bed with the lights off, slowly peel off each other's clothes," says Cadell. Do a striptease, or lick your spouse's ear, then neck, then shoulder, while you two are watching a movie. "This creates a sense of sexual anticipation," offers Cadell.
Make a Date Night.
Once a week, carve out a night that you and your spouse allow yourselves the luxury of reveling in romance and lust. Go out to dinner, rent a room, bring a blanket and some whipped cream to a deserted beach. If you have kids, get a sitter or drop them off with your parents. "You'd make the time to have a business meeting," says Cadell. "If you cannot invest one day a week in yourselves, you are in deep trouble."
Share the Reigns.
Take turns taking the initiative and planning the getaway. One week you decide the delicacy-du-jour will be a bubble bath; the next, your mate can arrange for a body-massage session. This allows you and your spouse to stay creative without bearing the burden of always having to be the one to keep the relationship (and the sex) fresh.
Create a Wish List.
If you would rather pull out your toenails than discuss your sexual needs, try penning a wish list. "Write down a few things that would heighten your sexual experience," recommends Cadell. "Have your partner do the same, then exchange lists." In addition to communicating your needs, these lists can make for erotic reading and fantasy.
Mix it Up.
No matter what you do, don't just keep doing the same thing. Predictability is the enemy; no matter how long you've been married, leaving your sex life on cruise control is a recipe for disaster. "Be creative," says Cadell. "Keep your lover on his or her toes." So experiment with new positions, try dirty talk, have sex in new locales. Then enjoy the wedded bliss.