I have had sex thousands of times with the same man. We have been married for close to four decades. Our sex life has been the blessing that has kept us working through the challenges and that, even now, makes our shared grief digestible. Of all of the skills I have developed over the years of building Good Clean Love, sustaining our sexual life, growing up erotically, and sharing intimacy over the span of decades is why I keep writing these columns. Sadly, during all the time I have been inventing products and writing columns about deepening our intimate connections, my own frequency and satisfaction with sex has been in decline.

Although those in long term relationships have more sex than their single counterparts, so many of us struggle with desire and trusting our erotic souls to lead us. 

It is a complex mix of issues that can make it a challenge to sustain vibrant sex life, but there are a few essential commitments we can make to keep up the intention and courage to work through them. So I offer this list as a guide to practices that have helped me keep coming back to both working with the pain and evolving the pleasure of being a healthy sexual being.

Think About Pleasure As Basic Hygiene

It is hard to argue with basic hygiene being a life necessity. Applying our thinking about how we cleanse and keep our bodies balanced everyday to our sexual health has a lot of merit. There is no other activity that so completely releases and resets the emotional, mental, and physical body so completely as a shared orgasmic release.

As daunting as that might sound at first, discovering your orgasmic potential expands the more you engage with it. The more orgasms you have, the more likely you will have another. Like most things in life the more you are open to and practice any behavior, the more accessible it becomes. Committing to a regular and maybe even scheduled routine of intimacy ensures that your orgasmic potential can be fulfilled.

Cultivate Arousal

Desire, or our expectations of what it should look or feel like, often prevents us from engaging in activities that can lead us to the real open door when it comes to your sexual pleasure, which is arousal.

Although it is normal to want to feel the sexual hunger that can take over and lead you into erotic bliss, getting beyond the wanting or not wanting, and engaging in activities that awaken the arousal mechanism is a much more reliable path for most partners in long-term relationships. Research has shown that tapping into physical arousal can be even more powerful than our mental experience of desire.

Overcome Shame

It is really easy to get stuck in your head when it comes to sex. When our old stories entwine with undigested erotic wounds, it becomes really challenging to feel what is happening in our body. Shame is a particularly toxic emotion that accumulates in the unexamined sex life. Stacking up multiple shaming sexual encounters leaves us empty and starving for real connection, yet unable to trust ourselves to choose differently. The only way out of this mess is through feeling into what happened and giving yourself permission, space and support to express the pain, sorrow, anger, guilt, and fear that erotic damage creates.

As overwhelming as this suggestion might seem, it is important to remember this key truth: feelings demand to be witnessed and viscerally experienced in order to set them free. They are begging for our unconditional attention.

Expand Your Sexual Potential

What we can’t feel we also cannot be curious about. But once we break the dam on the feelings we have been working so hard to avoid, we find a virtual spring of desire and curiosity.

What turns you on is highly charged with emotion and imagination. Clearing out the shame layered on top of our arousal mechanism gives us free reign to supplement the incomplete sexual education we got when we were young and encourages exploring the many ways that your body comes alive sexually. In this healing space, you can tap into the deep stores of erotic fuel arising from your most resonant and potent fantasies.

Feeling comfortable and curious about who we can become sexually allows us to witness the core of our sex drive, eliciting previously unimagined levels of sexual pleasure.

Become More Intimate

Learning to feel not only helps to release old wounds and explore your sexual potential, it also makes you available to meaningful and lasting intimate connection. Internal forgiveness is an excellent fertilizer for letting other people be how they are which is the thing that trips up most people in their quest for lasting intimacy. In the emotional freedom to be yourself completely, you are also able to take responsibility for your own desire.

When we don’t hold our lovers hostage for making us feel sexy or desirable, the sexier the relationship becomes. Deep and lasting intimacy is a product of two people who are always leaning towards feeling. Learning to feel gets easier the more you practice and it guarantees you will save your sex life from years of pain and suffering.

Here’s to a life where we live curiously with our sexy selves and openly exploring with the people we love.