Tips for Greater Passion and Sex in Marriage

Sex in Marriage

New relationships are often infused with passion—an emotional intensity and a sexual charge that creates a blissful orbit around a couple, bathing them in euphoria and excitement. Connecting moments—in and out of the bedroom—seem to automatically happen during this initial phase of the relationship.

But as a relationship matures, something starts to shift. Over time, the realities of domestic life creep in and begin to siphon the marriage/relationship of the mystique and novelty that often fuels passion. The repetitiveness of life, the mundaneness of domesticity, commitments piled upon commitments, seeing each other in less than ideal circumstances, are a few of the anti-passion circumstances that couples must contend with at some point in their union. Quite simply, this cannot be avoided.

As the marital/relationship landscape continues to shift, what was once a natural and defining feature of your relationship—intense connecting moments found in passionate sex—may seem lost forever. I’ve seen too many couples throw in the towel at this point, rather than realizing that there are things they can do to keep the fires of passion and intimacy alive.

Nurturing Passion and Sex in Marriage (and Long-term Relationships)

Here is a simple formula I use with the couples I work with in my couples counseling practice. The approach to rekindling passion should be one of creativity, fun, openness and a joint effort, rather than falling victim to self- or other-blame for what might be missing in your relationship.

(D) Do something different. This is designed to undo the repetitiveness that can lead to a relationship rut and sexual staleness. The change can be small or large, but it shouldn’t violate your core values or create anxiety or insecurity in either of you. Also, when you change the game a little, you bring back the mystery that passion feeds upon. Remember, novelty often fans the flames of sexual desire, so this might just be what your relationship is needing.

(E) Educate yourselves about one another’s sexual needs and desires. When it comes to sex, the more information and understanding you have about each other, the better. This creates a sexual empathy that should be the foundation of a couple’s sex life. Ask questions, practice active listening, read books together, journal your feelings to become better acquainted with your own desires and inner blocks. Consider this learning about yourself, your partner and each other a life-long educational journey.

(S) Savor the sensory experiences of sex. In a world filled with distractions and a fanatic energy/pace, sex offers us moments to slow down and connect by focusing on our own body (and our partner’s body) and the myriad ways in which our senses come alive with pleasure. Much is lost if you do not make the deliberate effort to bring the sensory experiences of sex into your awareness where they can be held and savored.

(I) Inform your spouse/partner about your sexual likes and dislikes. Directly communicating what you want and need sexually (and don’t want and need) can go a long way in creating a beautiful sexual rhythm between you and your partner. Feedback, when appropriate, can take the form of: “I’ve always wanted to try…”; “I just read about this sexual position that I think would be exciting”; “I love it when you touch me in that way”; “Can you do that a little gentler?”…these are just a few examples of informing your partner about how best to meet your sexual needs.

(R) Role play in and outside of the bedroom. We all inhabit certain roles in our lives: The competent boss; the loving/responsible parent; the caregiver; the “strong” one; the joke-ster, to name a few. The familiarity of these roles may give us comfort, but they can also constrict us (as well as constrict passion). When couples role-play, they infuse their relationship dynamic with a new, playful, and sometimes provocative energy. Common role-play scenarios include one person having authority/power over the other; or pretending to be strangers meeting for the first time who find each other attractive. Find out which particular role-play scenarios work best for you both—you may need some trial and error to figure this out. Be patient.

(E) Experimentation is an attitude that couples bring into the bedroom. It’s both a mindset that is inviting and an energy that sends the message: “This is a safe place to share our deepest longings and desires without judgment or shaming criticism.” Playfulness and openness should also be part of the experimentation landscape—a welcome sign to try new things in an attempt to spice up your marriage/relationship. Experimentation in action should be simple and clear; it can involve open discussions about each other’s needs and concerns; a sharing of sexual fantasies as a means of stimulating greater sexual intensity; or enacting something you’d both like to try together. When you nurture this type of accepting environment, sexual desire and passion are more likely to take root.

The above outline is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a starting place for you and your partner to begin taking control of your sex life. Too many couples wait around for passion or desire to emerge, as if it’s hiding behind some corner of the relationship waiting to be found. Or they become mired in feelings of helplessness about what to do in order to recapture the earlier, effortless level of intimacy that is nowhere to be found.

Remember, passion in marriage/long-term relationships needs to be nurtured. Use the above list to start conversations about the direction you and your partner/spouse want to go in, and be ready to change course if you try something new and it falls flat. But make sure you give your efforts enough chance to take hold (I’ve seen too many couples try something designed to deepen intimacy, only to quickly abandon it if results aren’t immediate). Patience and a dash of creativity are virtues when it comes to rekindling passion and sexual desire.

Here’s to a more passionate sex life!

Dr. Rich Nicastro

(Featured image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at