When it comes to sex, 2008 might not have been your year. One of the side-effects of a recession can be a lack of libido, and so maybe one of your New Year’s resolutions is to reclaim your sex life.
"In general, people are having less sex," said Dr. Ian Kerner, a New York City-based sex therapist and author of "Love in the Time of Colic: The New Parent's Guide to Getting It On Again."
"Fifty million people are stuck in a sex rut," Kerner added. "The economy inhibits a person's libido because they feel stressed and depressed."
So if you want to climb your way out of that sex rut, Kerner offers nine easy tips to reclaiming your sex life:
1. Just Do It!
“It might sound silly, but just have more sex,” Kerner said. “Your mind has become habituated to not having sex, so it’s hard to break out of it. You have to reconnect. Sex is its own aphrodisiac. When couples have a healthy sex life, they are in a groove, whether it’s once a week, or twice a week.”
Do something non-physical — together. “You can’t just turn sex on when it’s time to go to bed,” Kerner said. “You need to build that sense of connection."
Try a date night, and remember it doesn't have to be fancy.
3. Be Positive
In times of economic crisis, many couples may argue over finances. It’s important not to act negatively outside of the bedroom if you want to have a positive relationship inside it.
“Studies show that for couples to boost their sex life, they have to be positive,” Kerner said. “It’s easy to go home and talk about mortgages and bills, but if it leads to a negative cycle of communication, figure out a positive form of communication.”
Some tips include: watching the tone of your voice, avoiding precarious subject matters and being cautious with the type of language you use. Pick your battles.
“We’re really becoming inundated with technology,” Kerner said. “Couples are spending more time on Facebook and blogs. The next thing you know it’s 11:30 p.m. and it’s too late for sex. There’s no urgent need to check your BlackBerry — your relationship has to be a priority.”
In other words, do you really care what your “friend” from second grade is doing on Facebook? Pay more attention to your lover and the benefits are greater.
5. Be Healthy
Believe it or not, your health factors into your sex drive, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle is imperative.
"It's easy to binge at the end of December with the holiday eating and drinking," Kerner said. "Get healthy and remain healthy. It will increase your sex drive, and exercise will boost your self-esteem, which is crucial to enjoying sex."
It’s important to understand that sex, especially in a long-term relationship, is mental, Kerner said, therefore it’s important to spice things up.
“In sex, you often do the same things, rely on the same moves,” he said. “Share a fantasy. Or, if you feel your partner is lacking in attentiveness, instead of criticizing, express it in a sexy way.”
For example, try telling your partner you had a dream about him in which he was doing the sexual act you would like him to do, Kerner suggested. Then, perhaps you could show your partner what you mean, or initiate matters.
7. Pitch In
Men: If you want to get some action, it’s time to take some action. Maybe you weren’t getting any in 2008 because you weren’t doing enough about it in 2008.
Try helping around the house a little more and your female partner may suddenly be in the mood.
“A lot of women aren’t interested in sex because they have other things on their minds like chores, dirty dishes, and men can’t always appreciate that aspect,” Kerner said. “If men help and create an environment where women want to have sex, that’s really important.”
8. Don’t Fake It
Aim for honesty.
“One of the benefits of being in a relationship is that sex isn’t perfect — guys are subject to their issues, women are subject to theirs,” Kerner said. “If in ’08 you were saying something didn’t matter, [maybe] it does in ’09. Sex changes from year to year and ’09 is a new year.”
9. Love Nest
Does your bed still have those outdated sheets that the baby once peed on? Is your bedroom cluttered with laundry just waiting to be folded? Maybe it’s time to turn the bedroom into more of a “love nest,” Kerner said.
“Put a little more energy into your surroundings,” he said. “Create a surrounding that appeals to your senses.”
For starters, try buying new (satin, maybe?) sheets, some (scented) candles, pop a CD in the stereo and turn down the lights. You’re halfway there.