Spicing Up a Long-Term Relationship

Jazz Up Your Love Life

Medically Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD
3 min read

Dec. 24, 2001 -- We all fall into a rut sometimes. Without some concerted effort, you may do things the same way repeatedly, whether it's the side of the bed you sleep on, how you brush your teeth, or the way you and your partner have (or don't have) sex.

Relationships need attention. In fact, they thrive on it. Here are some ideas to get your love life jump-started today.

We give love to our partner the way we want it given to us. But it doesn't always work because we all have different needs and desires. Over time, as routine creeps in, many of us forget to show our love to our partner as often as she likes or the way he craves.

Take a moment to think about your partner. Then respond accordingly. If he's a party boy, take him out for a night on the town. If she loves opera, buy last-minute tickets. If he's a private person, take the kids out of his hair for the weekend. The possibilities are infinite.

You do it when you have a big project at work or when you have to find an activity to keep the kids busy. But it may surprise you to see what happens when you take a moment every day of the week to focus on your relationship.

When you first wake up, think to yourself, "What can I do for my partner today?" Some ideas include kissing him every time he walks by, flirting with her like she's a new date, or wearing his favorite perfume every day instead of just for special occasions.

Sex -- The concept hasn't changed much, though there are endless variations on the theme. But does anything ever vary with what you and your partner do together? Take some time to hash it out -- no, really -- sit down with your partner and write down your usual sexual repertoire. Then take the list of what you already do, and, together, add activities you think you might enjoy. Write them down as you brainstorm together.

Don't judge your partner's choices as the list is being created, just let the ideas flow freely.

Now, take turns indicating your level of interest in each new activity by choosing a number from one to six (1 = oh, yes! and 6 = no way!). Besides helping you and your partner set sexual boundaries, this exercise will give you food for thought as a sexual couple.

After a long time together, we take on roles, most commonly "giver" and "receiver." It takes some effort to break out, and bring more equality. One great way to do this is through massage.

Take turns massaging each other. Ask your partner to tell you exactly where and how she would like to be rubbed. Massage one part of her body (back, hands, head or feet) for 10 minutes. The receiver gets to give both positive feedback when something's just right, and constructive feedback when the giver could adjust his pace, pressure or movements.

It's simple to transfer these skills to your lovemaking. Instead of sexual "status quo," take turns pleasuring each other. Each partner gives directions for what he'd like his partner to do. Then you switch. It's a powerful way to learn about your partner's needs and how to ask for what you want.

Silly as it may sound, setting aside one hour of quality time for sex each week can increase your satisfaction more than any other change you could make. You don't have to have sex during the hour if neither of you are in the mood nor the conditions aren't right (one of you is sick, exhausted, sore, etc.). But if they are, you'll have an entire hour without distractions for an amazingly satisfying experience.