Have Better Married Sex—From Year One to Year 20 (and Beyond!)

Do you see satisfaction in your bedroom long after the wedding's over? Your future sex life will be joyful, so long as you use these stay-happy strategies.

Milestone: 10 Years

Likely sex life scenario: You might be thinking, "When's the last time we had sex?"
Challenge: You want to make sex a top priority again.

After a decade of marriage, you might notice that you're having sex infrequently. "When you're married for a long time, sex is a wonderful museum just down the street from your house," says Carolyn Rodgers*, 35, from Richmond, Virginia, married for 12 years. "You know it's great, but it's always there, so you just don't take advantage of it as much as you should." The most common reason for this, according to relationship experts? Couples usually say they're "too busy."

It's no wonder couples feel they have little time for sex: In your mid-thirties to forties, you've likely reached a senior-level position at work and have a growing family to take care of and nurture. Not only that, you're now coping with more complicated parenting issues, like juggling the children's lesson and play schedules and helping the older kids make the sometimes difficult transition into pre-adolescence. In short, neither of you has the emotional or physical energy to spare for sex right now, says Tessina.

So, how do you overcome these sexual roadblocks? First, "Forget the excuse that you have no time for sex," says Scantling. "Yes, it's a challenge to fit it in because your responsibilities are greater than they were 10 years ago, but you must realize that your relationship will shrivel up if you don't nurture it. You have to feed it in the same way you feed your body." So, just as you would make time for an important meeting at work or a school appointment for the kids, you should make time for sex with your spouse. "If you have to, sit down with your husband, get out your calendars and schedule time together—then stick to it," says Scantling. Don't think of it as "scheduling sex"—instead, see it as setting aside some much-needed time alone together that might lead to lovemaking.

Another option for the time-impaired: Consider reinventing your definition of good sex. "Intercourse doesn't have to be on the agenda at all times, as long as you stay connected physically," says Scantling. For Rodgers and her husband, that means cuddling on the couch while they read or watch TV and holding hands during walks. "All these things keep us prepped to turn on the heat when we're able!" she says.

Milestone: 20 Years

Likely sex life scenario: You're probably cuddling more often than actually getting horizontal.
Challenge: Your sex life might need a serious tune-up.

Congratulations! Not only have you built a wonderful life together, you've beaten the odds—statistics show that over half of all American unions end in divorce. That's not to say things are perfect when it comes to your sex life, however. Some common desire sappers around this marital milestone include "blue" feelings associated with children leaving the nest and body image issues. You and your husband may have put on some extra weight in recent years, thanks to your slowing metabolisms, and—yikes!—gravity isn't doing either of you any favors. In short, these changes might be making you feel less attractive than when you were younger.

Plus, "When couples have traveled down the road of life together for many years, sex might feel downright stale," says Scantling. "They've accepted certain ‘truths' about their interests, fantasies and preferences, and never reassessed them. In other words, what you think he enjoys (like your blowing in his ear) may not be a turn-on for him any longer—and vice versa. You need to take inventory and, if necessary, shake things up."

Lisa McLeod, 40, from Atlanta, Georgia, has been married for almost 20 years and admits she and her husband are having exactly this experience. "I can't figure out how we went from having sex twice a day to me thinking, ‘I have 30 e-mails to write, so how long will this take?' " she says. The good news: Becoming more sexually adventurous and creative shouldn't be too hard at this stage in your lives. You've been married for a long time and should feel really comfortable discussing your needs and desires openly and explicitly. So, talk to each other about certain moves you like and don't like, and ones you both want to try. And, don't be afraid to bring sexual aids into the mix. For example, create a "toy chest" filled with massage oil, mood music, a feather and other sexual enhancers.

That's exactly McLeod and her husband's goal for the coming year. "All sex is not going to be honeymoon sex, but you do need to keep having it so you won't forget how," she says. "One day the kids will leave the nest, your phone will stop ringing and all your work will be done. When that time comes, you'll want to look back and be glad you did whatever it took to have great sex."

Next: The 3 Golden Rules of great sex