This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
You might say Jill Blakeway has controversial ideas about couples and sex. “Without sex, you and your partner are just glorified roommates,” the board certified acupuncturist, founder of the YinOva Center in New York City, and author of Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido said. But after seeing thousands of couples at her clinic, she knows how the absence of sex can negatively affect a relationship. And according to research, her clients are just a handful of the more than 40 million adults in sexless relationships.
The Labor of Love host and RealSimple.com editor Lori Leibovich invited Blakeway to talk about why so many couples stop having sex and how to bring desire and intimacy back into your relationship. Want to know more? Listen to the full podcast here.
When you work hard all day, curling up with a book or actually going to bed is just about the only thing that sounds exciting. Physical activity? Not so much. So stop saving sex for the nighttime. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or every other Saturday (while the kids are plopped in front of the TV), find a time that works for you—and stick with it. Sex may not happen as frequently as it did when you first started dating, but intimacy will cree back into your daily life.
Blakeway says stress has a greater affect on a woman’s sex drive, because focus is an integral part of a woman’s sexual response. Stressors tend to suck away focus, leaving you less in touch with how your body feels. Instead of relaxing, excessive stress “makes us clench up like little pressure cookers,” according to Blakeway. She recommends trying acupuncture to help with blood flow, and yoga or meditation to help deflect stress and remain mindful.
Women are bombarded by unrealistic images of the body–whether it’s through plastic surgery, Photoshop, or even pornography. When our cultural imagery praises the ideal, it’s easy to feel bad about yourself. Blakeway urges you to create a division in your head. Pornography is a performance. Sex with your partner is real and just for you. Even if your partner is turned on by visuals, they can’t look at all of you at once. Instead, they’re focusing on the parts of you that turn you on. Focus on the parts of your body you’re happy with, and try to let the rest go.