How to Keep a Relationship Alive


"A lot of women don't know how to get the conversation started without being perceived as nagging," she said. "Try not to open with a line that's accusatory, she said – an 'I-message rather than a you-message.'"

Still, the pressures of everyday life can wreak havoc in the bedroom.

"Stress is a libido killer," said California psychotherapist Jenn Berman.

"Right now, people are losing jobs and working longer hours," said Berman, whose radio program, "The Love and Sex Show With Dr. Jenn," airs on Sirius XM. "They are doing two or three people's jobs and taking pay decreases. They are exhausted."

Busy career women can allow cell phones and e-mail messages to interfere with their relationships.

And when the spark has fizzled, that, too, can weigh heavily on a woman.

"When there are problems in the bedroom, women are very relationship-oriented, and when things are not going well, it adds tremendous stress to a woman's life," she said. "You can be uber-successful and have a wonderful, accomplished life, but when the relationship isn't going well, it likely affects you."

She advises women to be proactive in keeping the intimacy in a relationship, "whether it's initiating sex more often or looking for ways to spice up the bedroom or better communications techniques or getting in to counseling. The key is don't get depressed, because then you feel helpless."

"Most people spend more time having their eyes on their favorite TV show than on the family and that needs to change," she said. "That's not a model for your kids to have an intimate relationship."

Dealing with Intimacy Issues

And that can lead to one or both partners putting on weight and losing interest in sex. Make a plan to eat healthier and take part in family activities like biking and walking.

"Putting on a lot of weight is hard on body and hard on libido," said Berman. "Weight gain is oftentimes a sign of depression and when a person is depressed, that also kills the libido."

And when one partner is unfaithful or turns to pornography, Berman holds both responsible. "Generally speaking, it's 50-50 and when someone turns to that, it's often a symptom of a much bigger problem in the relationship."

Then, counseling is in order.

"We know that for women, the old adage, 'sex equals love rather than love equals sex,' applies," said Case Western's Kingsberg. "I don't want to stereotype men or women -- there are a lot of women who take the sexual lead and the other way around. But there are ways to communicate that."

"In first few months to a year the sex drive is high for everybody and after that there is one person who has less desire," she said. "You can make it feel less like a chore -- more than the body might want, but once it's started, its enjoyable. And the person with the higher sex drive can pay attention to the fact that quality does outweigh quantity and don't take in personally."

Communication is the key.

"Romance doesn't have to lead to a sexual encounter every time," said Kingsberg. "You can be playful, even in the busiest times of the day when you don't expect to end up in bed with each other. Send a flirtation (by e-mail) in the middle of the day, saying, 'I'm thinking about you.' "

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