Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
For many couples, fitness resolutions may extend beyond the gym and into the bedroom in the new year. But according to Laurie Watson, a certified sex therapist, podcaster, and author of Wanting Sex Again: How to Rediscover Your Desire and Heal a Sexless Marriage, the focus should not only be on sex, but also on eroticism—especially in long-term relationships.
Watson defines eroticism as "sex imbued with meaning, romance, and desire," and believes that each spouse "wants and desperately needs their emotional life [to be] entwined with their body life." In order to bridge the gap between these two important needs, she recommends cultivating a sense of mystery and surprise in long-term, monogamous relationships. As in the beginning stages of a new relationship, a sense of surprise can stoke a slow-burning fire for years to come.
"Our brains release sexual… hormones when we try a new activity [in the bedroom]," writes Watson for Psychology Today. "Knowing you have something delightful to share with your partner will light desire inside." She recommends getting in touch with your sexuality by imagining exactly what is sexy to you personally, and effectively communicating that desire to your partner. "Discovery of our inner sexual self is an on-going practice [that can] breathe life into monogamy," she writes. "Seduction is [within] the surprise."
For more on relationships and intimacy, find out what couples with the best sex lives have in common.