It’s no secret that for many people, intercourse can play a pretty big role in maintaining overall health. A 2017 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed that there’s a connection between frequent sexual activity and overall well-being. Similarly, intercourse in a relationship can help boost physical intimacy between partners and improve overall satisfaction. Although not every relationship requires intercourse, for many people in long-term relationships, keeping things active in the bedroom can be an essential part of keeping a healthy, lasting bond.
Although it’s natural for intercourse to become less frequent over the course of long-term relationships (at least in comparison to the “honeymoon phase”), maintaining a consistent sex life can become difficult overtime. When other life factors, like work and familial responsibilities, take up much of our focus and energy, it can become tricky to find the time for intercourse.
“There’s a time in a relationship where you’re past the infatuation and discovery phase. You’re secure with one another and life’s stresses and obligations start to be more of a priority,” said Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a clinical psychologist based in New York City, to NBC News. “It’s best for the couple to acknowledge that they aren’t having sex as often as they’d like and then together agree to do something about it.”
But aside from external stressors, there may also be internal complications eminating from the relationship disrupting your sex life.
“First, the biggest problem of most couples is sexual desire — getting in the mood. Couples regularly say that although they were reluctant at first, once they made the plunge to have sex it was a positive experience. It’s the ‘getting started’ that’s the problem for most couples,” Dr. Brian Jory, a relationship psychologist and author of Cupid On Trial — What We Learn About Love When Loving Gets Tough explained. “Second, most couples are not perfectly synced in their sex drives. One may want it more often than the other, or one may want it when the other doesn’t.”
That’s why some psychologists recommend “maintenance sex” in order to keep things going.
So what exactly is it?
Simply put, maintenance sex is intercourse for when you and your partner aren’t necessarily in the mood, but still do it anyway for the sake of having it. Although it might not sound the most appealing, experts agree that maintenance sex can be a good solution to boost physical intimacy and overall satisfaction in your relationship. And contrary to common belief, it doesn’t necessarily need to be planned in advance.
It is very common in most long-term relationships to have mismatched libidos, or sex drives. Therefore, so long as it’s consensual, maintenance sex can be a beneficial way to meet one another’s sexual desires, without making anyone feel guilty or ashamed for wanting intercourse.
“Maintenance sex might be healthy because it causes you to talk about your needs and desires — both inside and outside of the bedroom,” explained Dr. Jory.
Other solutions to spark intimacy
Of course, not all intercourse needs to be out of maintenance-purposes. There are several other ways to boost physical intimacy between partners and overall sexual desire that include:
- Try something new. “Try to keep sex interesting by trying out new activities, toys, lingerie, positions, games and fantasies,” suggested Dr. Jory.
- Keep the bedroom tech-free. Dr. Hafeez recommended unplugging devices such as televisions and computers, and moving your cell phone away from the nightstand. “Buy an actual alarm clock,” she said.
- Make sure everyone is satisfied. It’s important to make sure that everyone is having a good time, and that includes making sure that both partners are experiencing the same pleasure.
- Foster intimacy elsewhere. Planning regular date nights, setting non-sexual goals together, and working on projects together is a great way to spend more time together and strengthen your bond.
Identify and reduce stressors. Stress can have a negative impact on an individual’s libido, so try to address any major stressors in your individual life that could be hindering your sex drive.