Fatigue, stress, anxiety and a hectic lifestyle all contribute to low libido.
Fatigue, stress, anxiety and a hectic lifestyle all contribute to low libido. eHarmony

LOVE DOCTOR: How to bring back the 'spark'

LOVE Doctor GABRIELLE MORRISSEY answers your tricky relationship questions.

Dear Love Doctor,

My husband and I have been married for 35 years and while I love him, we haven't been intimate for over a year. I'm worried we've lost the spark and I'm embarrassed to talk to him about my needs.

Nearly every couple experiences this situation at some point in their relationship.

Fatigue, stress, anxiety and a hectic lifestyle all contribute to low libido.

If this is you, don't feel bad - it's not that uncommon.

There is often a lot of pressure on couples who have been together the longest, because the assumption is you've been together so long that intimacy should be your second language and you should be so fluent that you don't have to talk about bedroom problems.

But it's precisely this pressure that makes the gulf wider between you, and the attempt to initiate something that much more awkward.

If you're embarrassed to talk about the situation, you can try just holding his hand at some opportune moment, take a deep breath and say something like, "Do you ever miss this? Us touching, being affectionate, the intimacy that seems to have disappeared? I do."

It's non-threatening, non-accusatory, phrased as a question, with added encouragement because you're affirming you miss it, but not in a negative way. Hopefully that will open the door to a conversation. From there, you can work on libido-enhancing strategies.

For instance, research shows a good night's sleep increases the desire for sex the very next day. Regular amounts of quality sleep will improve your desire for sex overall, and the quality of sex you enjoy.

I would suggest at least two nights a week are to be sex free, but spent together. Talk, go for an evening walk, take a bath together - do an activity together that is intimate, but not focused on sex.

Make sure this is quality time, without television or passive, separating activities like reading.

Once a month try something new sexually. This keeps your sexual energy high. This can be hard at first given how long you've gone without any sex, so start with small expectations to simply reconnect and get some excitement back. It may be wearing some lingerie, or initiating when you haven't done that for a long time.

Take things slowly and listen to one another's needs.

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