How to Create More Intimacy with Your Valentine
by RLichtman

February is perfect for cuddling, with the cold weather and
longer nights. No wonder it's known as the month for romance.
But, as a member of the Sandwich Generation, does caring for
your growing children and aging parents make you too tired to
bring Cupid back into your intimate relationship?

Lucy was on the fast track at work and active in her family life,
having three teenagers and parents who were declining. Her
interest in romance was waning and she was devastated by
changes in her body and her psyche. "I have totally lost my
libido and I feel as dry as the Sahara desert. In the past, I had
been happily led around by my active sex drive - it has been my
life force for so long. Now, I have lost my ballast and my identity.
I want to have those feelings again."

Difficulties with intimacy may be affecting your partnership and,
more likely, difficulties in your marriage may be interfering with
your sexual relationship. If there are situations in your life that
preoccupy your thoughts and are stressful for you, these can
also affect your desires for intimacy. Begin to deal with them
directly so that they do not spill over into your sex life.

1. Examine your relationship with your significant other. Are you
satisfied with the intimacy? How is your communication? How do
you both manage anger? Discuss the issues that are causing
problems rather than withdrawing from each other. Don't use
intimacy as a bargaining tool when there is unresolved
resentment in your marriage.

2. Schedule a date night alone with your partner. Remember
how your heart used to skip a beat when you happily thought
about your next evening together? Recreate some of that
excitement and mystery now. Take turns planning an activity
that will remind you both of why you fell in love.

3. Focus on creating new kinds of intimacy. If your children now
live away from home, you have more time and energy to devote
to each other and to bring you closer together. Develop or
rekindle affection, closeness and romance. Many women find
that this can be enormously satisfying in a different way. Fay,
an elementary school teacher, has grown to value the
companionship in her relationship. "We enjoy rubbing each
other's back, reading together in front of the fire, sharing funny
stories about our grandchildren. Who would have thought that
would feel intimate."

4. Work with your health professional to rule out physical
conditions or the side effects of prescriptions that could be
contributing to a decrease in your libido. Talk to your internist or
gynecologist about remedies - lubricants as well as prescription
medications or creams.

5. Explore techniques of expression that may be new to your
relationship. Try different positions for your lovemaking. Studies
have shown that an active sex life slows the aging process so
your effort will be doubly rewarded. With their son away at
college, Joy felt emotionally closer to her husband than ever
before. "With the house to ourselves we feel less stressed,
more carefree, less inhibited and make love more often."

6. Enjoy your sensuality. Have fun with it. Learn about exercises
in "sensate focus" as you discover new ways to explore your
body. Energy level, body image, physical limitations and the
quality of the relationship all play a part in feelings of sensuality
and intimacy.

Be patient and take small steps toward feeling emotionally
satisfied. Allow yourself the pleasure of slowly learning more
and more about your partner, even now. For Lisa and her
partner, buying a motorcycle and riding together on weekends
was one way of rekindling the excitement in their marriage.
"What a thrill! I love it all - the speed of the ride, the wind in my
hair, the physical closeness, even being the chick on the back
of the bike."

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