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5 Tips to Keep Passion Alive in Long-Term Relationships

5 Tips to Keep Passion Alive in Long-Term Relationships

Despite being a published sexuality expert who works with countless women and their partners, I’m always my own best case study. I have written and been public about many parts of my own sexuality. Most of my sexuality has occurred in a long term, mostly monogamous marriage of more than 30 years.

I give lectures and have been interviewed on the lack of passionate sex in long term relationships (including my own), and what we can do about it.

Last night, I realized that I do still have a pretty sexy marriage. That seemed funny to me because not too long ago, my husband and I gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal about having less sex in a long term relationship. That is still true. But things keep shifting for us, and the couples that I am working with. Sex and passion keep slowly getting better. So what is up?

Tip One: Stick Around a Little Bit Longer Than You Think You Should!

We all know that boiling point, when we think we can’t take it anymore. But there is a gift that comes from sticking around, not throwing your cards on the table and walking away. When you allow for some time, and the understanding that relationships can shift, you can often be surprised with what you have.

Tip Two: Long Term Relationships That Remain Sexy Have A Lot of Erotic Privacy In it.

My husband and I have our sex life together,  and we have an agreement that allows each of us to have a certain amount of erotic privacy and independence in our marriage. It is has slowly been evolving since I wrote a book, “Shameless,” about the issue.

Erotic privacy may mean different things to different people. It may mean the privacy to look at pornography and not share some desires with our partners. It may mean the possibility of exploring ourselves within agreed upon boundaries without our partners.

Tip Three: Have Willful, Non-Spontaneous Sex

My husband I and have been exploring this tip for the past year, and it is working for us. I strongly suggest buying a massage table, and setting up a separate place for willful, non-spontaneous sex adventures! Massage tables allows you to explore giving and receiving touch in a new way. It allows for some newness and surprise which is always a good thing to spark desire. There are many great books out there on giving and receiving sensuous massage, and it can be a great way in for sexy in long term relationship sex.  Massage tables can get us touching each other again.

Tip Four:  Understand That Sexual Desire Ebb and Flow

In my marriage, we have known and understood that our passion had an ebb and a flow. Sometimes it is hot, and sometimes it simply vanishes like the sun on a cloudy day for months at a time. But that didn’t mean that our relationship was broken. Life is not a romance novel.

If you are willing in part to stick things out, and not expect every need of yours to be fulfilled by one person, I think there is lots of hope for passion in long term relationship. You need to create the space for sex. Review Tip Three!

TIP Five:  Sex Starts With Your Relationship with Your Own Body

For me personally, (and for the majority of the women that I work with), I had to learn who I was erotically.  That was pretty vulnerable work and took time. I also think that it’s an evolving practice and I’m still doing it. It has involved me taking many different paths to my own self discovery. My husband needed to give me the privacy and the space to go explore that. He had to trust me enough to know that I would indeed come home to him. This takes a lot of trust, and it’s not always easy to do. But if you can go there, it is key!

I share my personal journey in my book Shameless, but there are no short cuts in getting really clear about who you are first.

It is only when we are clear about who we are, that we can truly deepened in relationship and take on the hot desires and willful sex that is needed for long term relationship to make it through the years. Remember, we change over time. Who we were erotically when we entered our love relationships may have shifted. We need the time to take stock!

So, last night my husband threw some spontaneity at me, and some willful sex. He created a space of the erotic where there wasn’t much desire. And we danced. This morning, I decided to give a listen to my colleague Esther Perel’s TED Talk about passion in long term relationship, and she does it spectacularly well!

“In long-term relationships, we often expect our beloved to be both best friend and erotic partner. But as Esther Perel argues, good and committed sex draws on two conflicting needs: our need for security and our need for surprise. So how do you sustain desire? With wit and eloquence, Perel lets us in on the mystery of erotic intelligence”. Give a listen — the link is here:  The Secret to Desire in Long Term Marriage.

We can all have passionate, often sexy long term marriages and relationships. But first we  have to unlock ourselves. Make room for our own self discovery, and then make room for our lovers.  We need to learn how to give our relationships air.

Create space while knowing that there is some security. It is the secret surprise to passion.

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Pamela Madsen

Pamela Madsen is an Integrative Life Coach Specializing In Women's Issues: Sexuality, Fertility, Body Image, Wellness and Rejuvenation. Pamela is also author of the best selling memoir Shameless (Rodale, Jan 2011), and founder of The American Fertility Association.Her websites and her daily blog,, are a breakfast essential for reporters, writers and policymakers.


+ add your own
2:36AM PDT on Oct 29, 2014

Well im a young man with high hopes of meeting a faithful woman, but these tips seems to be telling all lovers to cheat and its ok. well dont you all see how this world will become?
Different from kids" marriage and relationship, is thee most precious thing in life, which should represent, love, truth, respect, trust and patience. now what some of you older people is tell us that there is no such thing as faithful relationships? this world is going to get heartless and cold in a few years to come if these thing are not hold vital. well i guess i should just start setting my mind on the fact that cheaters will override the faithfuls. that not right, if 70% of woman cheaters, they should not influence they next 30% to lower their standard, because the others can hold faith or can't keep your partner. Be very careful of what you put in the mind of kids, especially these days.

7:13PM PDT on Oct 21, 2013

I am here to testify on how Dr Lawrence help me to bring back my ex-husband who left me 3 months ago i got his email on the internet on an article how he had help so many people,so i emailed the Dr and tell my problems to him and after that day he gave me assurance of 3days,to my greatest surprise my husband came back to me in third day of contacting him,i want to say a very big thank you to

4:30PM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

I want to use this opportunity to thank Dr. Book for helping me get my lover back after he left me few months ago. I have sent friends and my brothers to beg him for me but he refused that it is all over between both of us but when I met this Dr. Book he told me to relaxed that every thing will be fine and really after three days of contacting him, I got my man back. so thank you so much Dr. BOOK. here is the email address if you want his help.

5:37PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

Thank you. My husband and I have been married for almost thirty-two years. We truly love one another, and I believe that is the key. If you love someone with all your heart, intimacy is necessary. We also believe that marriage requires a commitment and have always worked to honor the sacred vow that we made to one another. We have been rewarded with the beautiful garden that is our life together. I am filled with gratitude for what we have together. True love is possible. :)

2:56PM PDT on May 18, 2013

hmm number two is a red flag issue for me. I am not a huge fan of porn (watching it or being replaced by it, or having my guy need it. I am almost ALWAYS in the mood, so there is no need to seek out someone else. If he can be enough for me, i had best be enough for him) and I am not one to be into open marriages. Flirting can be okay, sometimes, maybe. I do it, I am sure he does it. Just so long as there are set boundaries. If he went too far and cheated in ANY way? I'd be out. Period. I'd expect the same

6:08PM PDT on Apr 5, 2013

I think passion in a relationship could be ruined by jealousy, and a need for one person to control the other. That takes the fizzle out of passion for me at least.

6:14AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

It's a matter of respect

12:39AM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

This articles reads well. However, there's a big difference in flirting and actually cheating as in Point Two.
Many people find cheating or having an affair easy - but when they find that their partner has been unfaithful - it's another story.

1:59AM PST on Mar 10, 2013

thanks for sharing

12:18AM PST on Mar 10, 2013

"Mostly monogamous marriage of more than 30 years"?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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