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So this is another restrained festive season for many of us. That doesn't mean the bedroom activities should be restrained too, though.
Yes, you may still be spending hours indoors, tackling endless chores, and then there’s worrying about the kids, jobs, money and health.
But, as hard as it may sound during this time, it’s important to keep your love life on track as sex is one of the best stress busters around, experts say.
“Faced with ongoing uncertainty and anxiety, many people feel like sex isn’t something they really want that much,” says Catriona Boffard, a Johannesburg sexologist and psychotherapist.
But here’s why it’s good to keep it up, and how.
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Try to do one thing a day that makes you feel good about yourself, says South African sexologist Marlene Wasserman, better known as Dr Eve.
Self-care boosts your mood and you’ll be more available for romance and intimacy, she says. She recommends activities that “quieten the mind”.
“A boosted mood lets you feel in control of your life, allowing you to feel more interested in connecting intimately.”
Create physical distance
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Go for walks on your own and do the shopping separately.
“It’s important to agree with your partner on a time or space that’s yours, and that they know not to disturb you,” Boffard says.
Maintain some mystique
“Mystery and intrigue are crucial for desire to develop,” Boffard says.
“Use your imaginations to connect by flirting with each other from different rooms and creating intrigue about what you’re doing just a room away.”
Maybe think twice about walking around in your pyjamas or sitting on the bed and cutting your toenails in front of each other. And if you’ve fallen into the habit of leaving the bathroom door open when you go the loo, stop.
You don’t have to share everything just because you’re a couple.
You probably think there’s nothing you don’t know about your partner, but take this opportunity to try to learn some new things about them.
Try a date night once a week or month. Perhaps get your favourite takeout delivered and set up a romantic spot somewhere in the house.
Then get creative by asking questions you’ve never asked before. For example, who would they want to be stuck with on a deserted island?
“Share stories with each other. Socially connect with each other, find each other interesting through novel experiences you’re each having,” Dr Eve says.
Schedule sexy time
We know it feels almost impossible right now, but sometimes carving out solid, quality time with your partner is all that’s needed to reignite that flame.
If the kids are constantly getting in the way, be creative. Wake up early before they do or have a shower together and lock the bathroom door.
“Whether sex actually happens isn’t the point. It’s about being intimate together in a physical way,” says Australian sex therapist Désirée Spierings.
Sex toys are a wonderful way to take the pressure off, Dr Eve adds.
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Switch off those screens
We’re all guilty of constantly checking our phones for WhatsApp messages and social media but try going one night a week without technology and see where it takes you.
“So many of us are struggling with ‘screen fatigue’ and our devices can actually become like a third person in our relationships,” Boffard says.
Eating dinner without a TV on is a good first step, says Australian clinical sexologist Tanya Koens.
“Foreplay starts with ‘How was your day?’ It’s about connecting and getting a conversation going.”
Despite living together 24/7, try using the three A’s to notice each other: appreciation, affection and acknowledgement, Dr Eve suggests.
“For example, you can say, ‘This morning I noticed your patience when doing homeschooling’ or ‘I appreciated that you included my favourite vegetable for dinner’ or ‘I liked seeing you in the shower this morning’. Noticing these small daily interactions can go a long way in bringing you closer.”