How to spice up a long-term monogamous relationship

Q: I know it's a tired, old question, but how do you revitalise your sex life when you've been together for over 20 years, or do you have to resign yourself to the fact that highly charged, erotic sex is a thing of the past if you choose monogamy?

A: I was an undergraduate when the Cosmopolitan/Cleo women's magazines hit Australia. Instead of knitting patterns, recipes and household tips, we were offered male centrefolds, sealed sections and sex tips. Publishers were targeting a new generation of women living in a post-Pill era. Proto-feminist, sexually liberated, and seeking their own pleasure, there was an appetite for information about sex.

It can be more helpful to broaden your definition of sex, and to manage your expectations. Credit:actaurora.daniels

New technology has tolled the death knell for a lot of print-based media, and both Cosmo and Cleo have gone, but an online search shows that people continue to enjoy reading sex tips. To mark the end of an era, Cosmopolitan compiled a list of the best 65 sex tips ever, so I thought I'd check it out, in case I could learn something new, but I was disappointed. It was a fun read, but offered little for people in your situation.

I did learn that oral sex is more arousing for a woman if you lick from side to side across the clitoral hood, rather than up and down, and that the top, left quadrant of a woman's clitoris tends to be the most responsive.

Have fun together, be lighthearted and playful.

I learned about an athletically challenging, woman-on-top sex position called the Amazon, which got a big thumbs up (Google it if you are fit). I also found out that the opening at the tip of the penis is called the "meatus" (not to be confused with Mateus rosé). Apparently, it feels amazing if medium pressure with the tongue is applied to it, on and off.

It can be fun to try new tricks, positions, and devices to break up the routine, but they do keep the focus on penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse. It can be more helpful to broaden your definition of sex, and to manage your expectations. If you believe that great sex is the frenzied, lustful passion experienced by teenagers you could be disappointed.

In a long-term relationship, the first imperative is to like each other. You cannot enjoy sexual intimacy if you have major issues. Talk, get relationship counselling, and become friends again, before you even think about sex.

Forget "working on" your relationship. Instead, start "playing in" your relationship, and lighten up. Have fun together, be lighthearted and playful. If you do not have a lot of fun in your life it will be difficult to spark up, sexually.

Make sure that affectionate touch is part of your everyday life. Hugs, a passing stroke, holding hands, foster an ongoing physical connection. Trying to give her a back rub at 11pm can feel more like a demand than a gift. To get started on this, have a six-second kiss every day, and notice how that makes you feel

Banish the word "foreplay". It implies there are sets of hurdles you need to jump in order to get to the real sex. All pleasurable, arousing contact is sex. Orgasm is not a destination, and a great sexual encounter does not always have to culminate in intercourse.

Regardless of your age, use lots of personal lubricant. When the genital area is wet it tells the brain that you are aroused, and you get even more aroused.

Take some physical exercise. If your greatest exertion is getting off the couch and dragging yourself to the fridge you will probably have a sluggish libido. Going some exercise not only relieves depression, it also sparks up your sensuality.

Be wary of relying on drink or drugs to get going. Alcohol is actually a depressant. A couple of drinks can lower your inhibitions and raise your mood, but more than that will have a numbing, deadening effect.

Finally, aim for quality, not quantity. Sex is not a competition. Frequency is not a measure of success. If you get into it once a month, but it is mind-blowing, you have a great sex life.

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