You're fully aware and accepting of the fact that even the healthiest relationships ebb and flow where romance and intimacy are concerned. Here's what you can do to keep the spark of romantic love from flickering out.
The importance of flirting
Whether or not your relationship is thriving in the sex department, flirting is still key. "So many parts of a relationship are stressful and difficult. Flirting is an easy way to bring sexiness into the marriage even if there isn't time for a passionate romp in the bedroom," explains Bat Sheva Marcus, Ph.D,, clinical director of the Medical Center for Female Sexuality. "It's a shorthand way of saying, 'I love you and find you desirable and if the possibility was there I would make love with you right now.'"
Married flirting means no strings attached
Think you and your sweetheart have been together too long for flirting to be effective? Not so. Adult play via flirting is a way to let your partner know you find them attractive and interesting. All flirting doesn't have to be a lead-in to sex but merely a signal of intimacy.
"Not flirting is like having a puppy and not playing tug of war -- you don't play because you want possession of the toy, you play because that's a fun way to interact with the puppy. Flirting is just like that," says Kristie Miller, Ph.D., editor of Dating: Flirting with Big Ideas. "It's not done with an end in mind; it's an end in itself."
5 ways to flirt with your partner
When two people in love make a point of flirting with each other, it can become a normal part of your routine -- and that's a good thing. Here are five ways to inject some flirtatious romantic energy into your relationship:
- Send sexy emails. "This does not have to be pornographic; it can just be suggestive, sweet, it can refer to a time you both remember as particularly sexy and enjoyable," says Marcus. "Surprise each other. That's the key."
- Read up. They don't teach you how to love someone in school so invest in an instructional guide. "Read The 5 Love Languages and take the questionnaire," Marcus suggests. "It helps couples understand that they way they've been showing love may not be the best way for their partner."
- Get visual. "Read The Sex Bible together for a relaxing yet stimulating set of great ideas and sexy pictures," says Marcus, who suggests skimming a section of an erotic book together in the morning as you're getting ready for work. "The sexy images can stay with you for the day and get your brain thinking about sex."
- Introduce something new. "Find something you're both interested in pursuing and regularly schedule time to learn and undertake that new venture," says Miller. You'll create a bond and see your partner in a whole new way...which makes them all the more fun to flirt with.
- Go on a date. "One of my favorite sayings is, 'When your husband is the last person in the world you want to go out with, you know it's time you went out and had some alone time," says Marcus. "It's your best signal and can really turn things around, even if you don't believe it before you do it."
Make sex a priority
Flirting is all well and good, but it's not a substitute for sex -- and vice versa. Do your fair share of flirting with your partner while also remembering to make time for a deeper intimacy.
Schedule sex, says Marcus. "There are times in your life when sex isn't 'just going to happen.' You have to find the space and time for it, even if that seems less sexy." Choose to do the things that will connect you and your partner rather than just sitting in front of the TV, Miller adds.
However, keep in mind one important thing: "Scheduling and planning sex will not solve anything if the real problem is an underlying absence of intimacy," says Miller. Is there something deeper going on in your relationship that's making you and your partner avoid all forms of intimacy? "Until you diagnose the issue, it won't be possible to solve it," says Miller.
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