By Resa Fremed

Love needs careful tending to so that the relationship can continue to grow and flourish; without regular maintenance it may whither and die. Keeping a long-term relationship fresh is a problem all couples face. How can we maintain those feelings of newness and continued intensity in a relationship that is no longer new?

Jack and Sylvia abandoned the attempt and let sex die.

Betty and Marty made love once a week, on the same day, in the same place and in the same way.

Ann cheated on David, having an affair with the gardener.

Your sexual life doesn’t have to be this way. Making love with your partner of 20 years can be a fantastic and pleasurable experience. But, when you treat each other like household fixtures, sex can become, well, blah.

Here are some tips to help keep love and intimacy alive:

• Practice treating each other as lovers. When you think “lover,” it implies excitement, desire, passion, fun, play and, of course, love. Talk to your partner about how the two of you can get back to those uninhibited feelings.
• Tell your partner what you do or don’t want. Avoid the trap of thinking, “if you really loved me, you’d know what I need without my asking.”
• Show your affection with hugs and kisses, especially when it’s not a prelude to intercourse.
• Definitely put a muzzle on the television set, blackberry and/or computer.
• Think of lovemaking as play. Give yourselves permission to be curious, take risks and experience joy. It’s OK to be adventurous.
• Try new patterns of lovemaking. Use a variety of caresses, different positions and different places for sex. Don’t be afraid of trying out sexual toys too.
• Take the initiative to plan a romantic evening or a sexy surprise for your partner.
• Recognize that we no longer have our 19 year old bodies. We need to change our model of sexual functions as our body changes and we age.

Overall, take personal responsibility for keeping sexual desire alive. Your partner will thank you in more ways than one.