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Long term love: How to put the spark back into your relationship (and bedroom)

Kim Hookem-Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
8 July 2013

If your sex life is a little lacklustre now you've been with your partner for a few years, you're not alone.

It may be a joke wheeled out regularly on sitcoms that marriage kills off your sex life but research does suggest that long term monogamy is a bit of a passion killer - but it doesn't have to be.

The study by Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor found that in the first 12 months of a relationship 15 per cent of couples have sex every day, and for the first four years, more than half of couples polled had sex a few times a week. But beyond four years, this dropped to just 43 per cent and after 15 years, 15 per cent were only have sex a handful of times a year.

Almost half of Brits rate their sex life as 'OK' or 'could be better' and 76 per cent think they 'could try harder' to keep the passion alive in the bedroom.

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If you're stuck in a rut or have let life get in the way of sex don't panic. Reconnecting with your partner can help bring back the excitement of your first few months together, combined with the intimacy of a long-term relationship. We asked relationship coach Janet Murray for her tips on how to reignite the spark.

"It's a common experience but you shouldn't dispair," she tells us. "There are lots of ways you can improve intimacy that will see you feeling the effect both in the bedroom and in other areas of your life together."

She says there are two really important thing to do - make time for each other, and communicate. It sounds simple, but how many of us actually give our relationships the energy they need to grow?

Respect your relationship

"Making time for each other can be difficult when you have a busy life and many demands on your time. And while it can be easy to take your relationship for granted and assume it's there so you don't need to work on it, it's vital that you make it an important focus in your life.

"You need to agree that your sex life and your relationship are things you both want to invest in.

"Making time for your relationship means putting aside designated time to spend together, to go out on dates, and also to give you room to be spontaneous. If everything in your life is pre-planned it's hard to keep the mystery and excitement alive, so try not to plan absolutely everything.

"If you’re not feeling very excited by things as they are, do something new such as a class together – dancing, couples' yoga or a massage course. Or you could even try a Tantra class if you want to take things further."

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Talk and listen

"The second vital thing you need to do to reignite the spark in your relationship is to make sure you're communicating. It can be easy to assume you know your partner so well you don't need to ask what they're thinking or how they're doing - but that's never true.

"Put aside just 10 minutes a day to talk to each other about how your feeling and what's really going on - not including the mundanities of life, who's doing the weekly shop or what the kids' after school activities are this week. Just focus on yourselves.

"And listen. Really pay attention and don't jump in when your partner's opening up."

Janet explains that it's also important to communicate about your sex life specifically.

"It's key to talk about what you want from your sex life and what you want from each other. It's like any skill - you have to learn it and practice it and you need feedback. When you think how much time you spend practicing and learning the things you love doing you realise why sex can stagnate.

"It takes effort and energy to spend time on your relationship but a relationship is either growing or dying. And you have to feed it something to grow."

Janet adds that if you feel there are major obstacles in your relationship or you're not making any progress, seek help. Couples therapy can be really beneficial if you're dealing with bigger issues or if you have grown further apart than you realised.

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