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Tips for spicing up a long-term relationship

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Relationships are exciting when they’re new. During the proverbial honeymoon period, couples can’t get enough of each other. Things are happy, easy and sexy. But eventually, comfort happens. “Netflix and chill” becomes “Netflix and fall asleep on the couch in fuzzy slippers.”

“All the things that make a relationship stable are almost the antithesis of passion and desire,” says B.C. Madison Gulli, a marriage family therapist and clinical sexologist at Integrated Wholeness in Las Vegas. But true love doesn’t have to mean bedroom boredom. “Couples can re-create that passion and fire all the time,” Gulli says.

Here are a few ways to remain in wedded bliss way after the wedding.

Lower your expectations

Modern society has led people to require too much from a romantic relationship. “We want our partners to be our wives, babysitter, support system, lover and “did you like my [social media] post,” Gulli says. “Can one person fill every one of those roles for us? It’s a heavy burden for our partners in relationships, and it’s not realistic.” Checking your expectations takes some of the pressure off. Similarly, she says that sex will ebb and flow in a relationship. So just because you’re in a dry patch, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed or even damaged.

Schedule sexy time

“Spontaneity is not your friend,” Gulli says. She advises married or long-term couples—especially those with children—to schedule sex in the same way you’d schedule gym time with a personal trainer. Not only will that keep you from putting it off, but it will also give you something to look forward to throughout the day, which is itself a turn-on, Gulli advises.

Reintroduce mystery

Pet owners are advised to keep a dog’s unused toys hidden away so the dog will find them interesting again. That same psychology applies to humans. To reintroduce some sizzle, Gulli suggests couples make a conscious effort not to call each other 10 times a day, and that couples take a several-day break from touching each other, and then embrace. “The polarity of that creates a spark,” Gulli says.

Say what you want

At first, it might be awkward to voice your secret desires. But Gulli says to speak up anyway. “Couples need to talk about what kind of sex they want to have, who wants to be in charge, what kind of experience it will be,” she advises. “For example, do you want to be romanced or do you want to be f*cked?” Whether these discussions lead to action or remain pillow talk, Gulli says couples benefit from all the naughty chatter.

Know when to seek outside help

Gulli says that the best time for a couple to see a therapist is before they hate each other. She says that the therapist’s office is often “the last stop before the [divorce] lawyer.” Don’t wait that long. According to Gulli, couples still willing to communicate and do things for each other will have the best outcomes. If a partner is disrespectful and/or volatile, however, Gulli says it’s time to re-evaluate the longevity of the relationship. And if there’s abuse, it’s time to end it all together.

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