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What Couples Who Still Have Great Sex Do Differently

sex after marriage | passion long-term relationships | desire fatigue

Yes, it's totally common to have desire fatigue set in when you've been together a long time. The more comfortable you get (which is a good thing) the more energy you need to put into keeping the passion alive.  

But where do you direct that energy? How do you actually shift things back in the direction of desire?

Couples who keep things sex long-term have a few key things to teach us. Overall there are five ways they focus energy in their sex lives that keeps the momentum flowing.  


Couples who report long-term sexual satisfaction do one thing a lot of others miss. They share fond memories of previous sexual encounters with each other. That might sound like any of these:

  • "The way you kissed me last night was really hot."
  • "Remember the time we did it on the beach at your parent's condo? I'd love to re-live something sneaky like that again."
  • "I was just thinking about the first time you spanked me and it made me smile."

Reminiscing isn't the same as giving feedback or making requests. It's simply sharing fond memories of things that worked well for you.  It's food for thought.

    Highlights Reel

    Couples who still love making love often have a solid practice of sharing what I call a highlights reel after sexual contact. Shortly after they finish they share a few specific highlights that worked well for them.  

    These might include:

    • "Oh my god it was so hot when you pulled my hair."
    • "I couldn't tell what you were doing with your fingers this time... but something about the beat and the circles you were using really worked for me."
    • "I loved watching your face when you climaxed tonight. It's such an incredible turn on to know you're so comfortable with me."

    In addition to giving positive feedback to your partner, this helps them more confidently build a repertoire of acts to draw from in the future. If you clearly let them know a few favorites you there's less to be confused about.

    Play by Play

    Relationships with long-lasting passion talk more during sex than others. Period.

    Let go of the fantasy your partner can/should/will read your mind and intuit your desires. That just will not last the test of time as your bodies and desires grow and change. 

    This doesn't necessarily mean dirty talk or roleplay (though you can incorporate those) but it does mean positive feedback and positive re-directs in the heat of the moment. Even if you can only manage a few words, try talking during the act. Here are a couple phrases to try:

    • "Yes!  Keep going."
    • "Don't stop what you're doing with your mouth!"
    • "More pressure. Just like that!!"

    Not only are you giving feedback but this is a way of building your consent practices to make sure you're on the same page about what you're doing and what you want to do. The converse of this is to ask more often during sex:

    • "How is this position for you?"
    • "Do you want more of my hand inside you?"
    • "Can I go faster?"

    Getting clear on what's working and what you both want helps you stay on the same page.

    Shared Fantasy

    Finally, couples who report a satisfying long-term sexual connection share fantasies openly. This means they're both brave enough to be vulnerable and share their desires, AND their partner is compassionate and empathetic when hearing them. 

    Again, these are not requests, but ideas.  They might sound like this:

    • "I've always had this idea that dressing up in matching tuxedos and going commando would be really hot."
    • "Sometimes I daydream about eating chocolate off your body."
    • "I think you'd look hot tied to the bed."
    • "I don't know if I ever want to try this, but I have secretly loved gay porn so long, I sometimes imagine you with other men."

    These are not requests. Only statements about what is and might be hot. It's really important for the receiving partner not to fee pressure in the moment to figure out how to (or if) they could fulfill these desires. Only to honor them in the moment.  

    It's also really important these desires are received without judgment or laughter.  There's nothing wrong with having fantasies (in fact, they're very healthy).  Being able to share them openly with a partner increases trust and often desire between you.  Here are some options for responses:

    • "Wow.  I can tell you're super into that."
    • "I'm so glad you told me. Let's talk more about it after I have time to do a little research."
    • "Ooooh.  Let me think about how I could make something like that work for us."

    Maybe there's some part of these fantasies you'd be into.  SIt with them, honor them and be careful not to yuck your partner's yums.  Sharing openly is far more important than ever acting on all of the fantasies you hold.

    How to make these first four tips work for you:

    • keep it specific - "that time in Chicago was nice" gives a lot less information than "The time in Chicago was so hot because you came first."

    • keep it positive - focus on any little thing you liked or found hot

    Why they work so well:

    • you're practicing getting vulnerable with each other by sharing these intimate details

    • you're giving feedback about what works so you can possibly replicate at another time

    • you're fueling sexual chemistry by focusing on what works for you

    • you're improving both your sexual confidence by identifying strengths

    Finally: Investing in Personal Passion 

    Most long-term couples desire wanes because they stop investing in their personal passions, friendships, creative pursuits, and desires. Over time these fall away as we focus on building our shared life, home, and family with someone. 

    But when these are out of balance it is really difficult to feel sexy.  Think about when and where you feel confident and/or sexy.  Make a list of the factors that contribute to those sexy times.  Then commit with your partner to investing in those confdent and sexy individual pursuits. 

    Here's an example from one of my clients (offered with permission):

    Her: "I feel most confident when I'm on the dance floor with my girlfriends.  I like getting dressed up, having a fancy cocktail and getting swung around to salsa music. I love the confidence of proud lead dancers, the feeling of the beat, and the change of pace when I put that kind of energy into looking good.  I usually wear my good underwear, a cute dress, I do my hair... I don't do any of those things on a regular basis!"

    Him: "I feel most confident when I've been running regularly.  Like I feel better at work, at home- everywhere if I've gotten a few miles in each day.  I notice my head is held higher and I'm in a better mood. I'm not sure it's 'sexy' but I feel like I get more done and feel better so getting laid is a higher priority when I work out. I also feel really confident at work.  I like being in charge and feel great because I'm usually the only one in the room who knows my specialty.  I am kind of an expert on [this thing] and people come to me for advice."

    Think about the situations and factors that fuel your more passionate self and find a way to build those situations into your life on a more regular basis.  

    passion after marriage | sex coach portland relationship coach

    Hi!  I'm glad you're reading.  Let me know if I can help you:

    • reconnect with passion & desire in long-term partnerships
    • rebuild trust after infidelity or dishonesty
    • move beyond jealousy, fear, and insecurity 
    • manage intense emotions that arise in conflicts
    • resolve sexual dysfunction & disconnect
    • change communication & codependent patterns
    • open your relationship & practice polyamory with integrity

    I lead couples retreats, host workshops, and see private clients online (and in Portland, OR).

    Call me for a free consultation to rethink the way you do relationships.

    Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a communication consultant, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach specializing in polyamory, open relationships, jealousy, and infidelity.  

    Two Questions to Find Passion in Long-Term Relationships

    Passion in Marriage | Uncommon Love Relationship Coaching

    Yeah, it happens.  Desire and passion fade in long-term relationships.  

    Most of us believe terrible myths about desire; that if we're in love, our sex should be intuited without conversation, consistently fulfilling, and if it waxes and wanes there is a problem in the relationship- and one of us is doing something wrong.  

    God, it stresses me out just to type that.  It's an awful lot of pressure to put on a relationship.  The truth is desire does fluctuate in long-term relationships.  But if you are unsatisfied with the frequency of quality of sex in your relationship there are some things you can do.  

    Yeah, this post if about you- not your partner.  

    All too often the couples I support point fingers at one another.

    Finish this statement: I turn myself off when...

    Not the same question as "I turn myself off when..." or "you turn me off when..."   Both of those questions look outside of you to blame.  We all choose to turn ourselves off sometimes.  Here are a few examples of responses:

    • I don't have time for myself

    • I'm overwhelmed with too much work stress

    • I'm distracted by the kids

    • I feel old

    • I don't believe I deserve pleasure

    • I don't feel safe 

    • I feel dead inside

    • I am too busy hating my body

    • I don't trust you

    When do you shut yourself or your desire off?  Knowing when gives you a new access point for the conversation about passionate connection.

    Now finish this statement: I turn myself on when....

    Take a minute and actually write out your responses.  When are do you turn yourself on?  Learning to turn yourself on will only amplify the desire you feel from others.  Here are a few examples of responses:

    • I am sweaty from a workout

    • I wear special underwear, shoes, and perfume

    • I am well-rested

    • I'm on a dance floor

    • I am doing something I know I do well

    • I make people laugh

    • I'm making music, cooking, painting, or writing

    • I'm the center of attention

    • I feel respected

    • I have space for friends, rest, and play

    Learning what fuels your desire is critical to keeping desire alive for two reasons:

    1.  It helps you feel strong and confident- not clingy.  Instead of relying on others to get your needs met, knowing how to meet your own allows you empowered independence instead of codependence. 

    2. It helps you know what to ask for in partnerships.  Once you're clear when you turn yourself on you can set up a life that fuels your inner fire of passion.  Create space for the things that turn you on.

    These notes are based on a video I recommend to most of my clients.  If you want to watch the full TED Talk from Esther Perel check it out below. 

    And if you want to talk more about passion and desire in your relationship give me a call, I'd love to help you.

    Gina Senarighi Portland Couples Counselor

    Gina Senarighi offers non-judgmental sex-positive, gender-affirming, LGBTQ relationship support online and in the Pacific Northwest. 

    She often says, “I love love, in all its forms!”

    She’s helped thousands of couples deepen their sexual connection, repair trust, and build sustainable lasting partnerships.

    She uses her multi-disciplinary professional training to teach communication skills and help her clients handle conflict with compassion.

    Gina has supported many couples experimenting with open relationships based in trust and integrity. If you’re considering polyamory you should check out her online resources here.

    Although most of her couples are experimenting with less traditional relationship structures, even her more mainstream clients appreciate her open-minded non-judgmental approach and diverse expertise.

    If you’re interested in taking this work further contact her for a free consultation.