For many, Christmas is a fun-filled time where loved ones come together in a wonderful medley of booze, gifts, games and soaps. But for those whose relationship is beset with rows, walking on eggshells, a lack of passion or the simmer of resentment, Christmas is often the final straw.
I’m a Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist and January is the busiest time of year for my work phone as I get calls from couples and individuals desperate to resolve their troubles and find harmony in the New Year. If you’re among those hoping to rekindle that spark, then here are some tips:
- Not surprisingly, as a therapist, I’m all about the communication. But this doesn’t mean just talking at each other, making demands, complaining, shouting or saying that things are fine if they aren’t. Good communication involves knowing what you want to find out, listening to the other person and empathising. To help guide a conversation about why you may have got into a rut and how to get out of it, you could ask each other these questions:
- What do you think about our relationship?
- How has it changed from when we got together?
- What annoys you about me?
- What do you like about me?
- Can you list three things that I might be able to do to help us feel closer?
Make a date
Make time for each other, away from family and social media. Maybe you could recreate your first date; reminiscing about fun times can help a couple remember how they used to feel in the first flush of romance before bad habits and domesticity had a chance to set in. If you find it hard to talk to your partner without being antagonistic, planning a date around an activity can help you experience each other in a different way. Dancing can allow you to feel free and get close, sports can release endorphins, going to a comedy club or watching a funny movie together can see you laughing together. While on the date, ramp up the compliments, flirting and snogging – which brings me on to the next point…
Pay lip service
Snogging is often the first intimate activity to go as a couple loses their spark. I don’t just mean a friendly peck you might give to your mum, I’m talking a full on passionate, sensual encounter including tongues and groping. Some feel snogging must lead to sex so they don’t want to do it until they’re in the mood to go all the way; some simply forget to make time for what seems like a “lower level” activity.You don’t need to have your lips glued to each other the whole time – they may go numb! Kiss around the lips and neck, hold and caress each other. When the song is up you can go about your day in your usual way.
No sex please
If sex has become routine, is swallowed up in the busyness of life or if you’ve got into the painful dance of initiating and being rejected or feeling guilty for saying no, then taking a step away from the pressure of sex can help break patterns. Together, plan to do things that are fun, saucy, sensual or loving, but which don’t rely on arousal. Activities like sharing a bath, giving a massage, dancing or lying together – naked or clothed – while concentrating on the other’s breaths, can all help encourage sexual tension and connection.
Change one thing
If your sex life is routine and/or unsatisfying, changing just one thing can help to re-focus the mind; you’ll be less likely to wonder about what’s on tele or that weird thing someone said a work. You could try sex at a different time, in a different room or location, with more foreplay – or different foreplay, with a prop such as a sex toy, whipped cream, a blindfold or feathers (basically anything that can help stimulate the senses). Saucy outfits or role-play can be a fun way to add a new dimension. Indeed, just talking about and planning your sex life can be a great way to prep the fires of your romance.
Have a great, connected New Year everyone!
By Sarah Berry is a Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist who works with couples and individuals online and at her Islington office.