In our culture, there is a lot of pressure put on us to have good sex and not a lot of room to talk about if our sex life is suffering. Whether you are unhappy with the frequency or the quality of your sex life, you may not know how to talk about it with your partner or be unwilling to try because you are embarrassed, worried about hurting your partner’s feelings, or simply because you doubt there is any way to improve things.

Sex cannot flourish in an environment of silence and neglect. To turn your sex life into a strength of your relationship, you need to communicate and be honest about your needs and desires. Follow these tips to improve your sex life.

  1. Redefine physical intimacy.For some couples, physical intimacy equates to sex. For others, physical intimacy includes every type of touch but sex. Physical intimacy and connection is an important attribute of a healthy sex life and a satisfying relationship. You should not restrict physical intimacy to the bedroom nor keep intimacy from sex. Partners vary in the balance they desire, and it is helpful to have a conversation with your partner about the changes he or she would like to see to help you both feel more satisfied.
  2. Redefine successful sex.Commonly, “successful” sex is viewed as achieving orgasm. Frequently in heterosexual couples, this is focused on male orgasm with less priority is given to female orgasm. Orgasm is important to both partners, and you need to make efforts to try and please each other equally.

    However, sex does not need an orgasm or orgasms to be successful. Healthy sex is defined by the pleasure and connection it fosters between partners. By taking the pressure off of the need to achieve orgasm, you can better focus on the benefits wrought by appreciating each other in the moment.

  3. Focus on the positive.It is naturally easier for us to focus on the negative instead of the positive because our minds want to protect us from the bad more than help us enjoy the good (it is a survival instinct). However, you can control the focus of your thoughts and reroute your attention when you find yourself dwelling on the negative.

    Applying this to sex, you may feel caught up in reliving a “failed” sexual experience (perhaps a time your partner turned you down or a time you were unable to sustain an erection). While there is value in trying to assess ways you can keep negative experiences from recurring, it is even more important to appreciate the positive that blossoms from your sexual encounters. Cherish what feels good and let your partner know how much you value his or her efforts to please you.

  4. Make time for connection.One of the most commonly cited constraints to having a flourishing sex life is time. Life is busy and only seems to grow busier. The obstacles to finding time for sex and intimacy are not going away, and it is up to you to make sex and your partner a priority.

    It is not a bad thing if you need to literally schedule sex to ensure that it happens and for both you and your partner to stay on the same page. Planning when you have sex gives you something to look forward to and helps you be more thoughtful about how you would like this to be a pleasurable event for both of you.

  5. Commit and follow through.It is not enough for you and your partner to simply agree that you would like to improve your sex life. You need to follow through and have ongoing conversations about what you like, what you want to do differently, and to keep tabs on how your partner is feeling. If you try scheduling sex and are unable to follow through, then try again. A happy sex life takes effort and commitment, it is not simply going to develop out of nowhere.

Sex can get better. Just like communication and general expressions of intimacy, you can learn what your partner desires and find new ways of connecting with him or her. It takes a willingness to understand your partner’s needs and to express yours. With an open mind and desire to try something new, you can turn your sex life into a reliable strength of your relationship.