Many clients at my Portland relationship counselor practice are embarrassed when they come to discuss problems in their sex life. Not only because of the intimate nature of the admission, but because many of them – especially those in long-term relationships – feel like their sexual unhappiness is something that they should just grin and bear. But while it’s true that a good sex life isn’t everything, it can create huge marriage problems when it isn’t working in your relationship.

Portland Relationship Counselor: Sexually Healthy Marriage Secrets

In fact, experts on relationship and marriage problems have found that happy couples tend to do a number of things – sometimes automatically, sometimes with a bit of work – to keep their sex lives invigorated and humming along. These “moves” not only help to keep your sex life from petering out, but improve overall intimacy between couples.

Just do it. When my Portland relationship counselor clients tell me they haven’t had sex in months – or longer – my advice is often those three simple words: just do it. Often in our desire for sex to be “special,” we wait for an event and want it to be magical and Earth-shattering, but one common trait between happy, healthy couples is that they have sex regularly. Why? Because sex between partners makes you feel closer and more intimate with each other, which makes you feel better about your overall relationship. Now, this doesn’t mean that there’s a magic number for how often you should be having sex (some people need it every day; others are happy with once or twice a month), but it does mean that you should both be checking in with each other to make sure that you are sexually satisfied, and working to remedy it if one of you isn’t.

PDA. Touch. A lot. Especially when you’re not looking to have sex. Because if kissing or massaging always leads to sex, eventually one or both of you might start avoiding contact unless you are in the mood, and touching without sex will help maintain the closeness between you for those times when you can’t have sex.

Don’t withhold. If it’s one thing I’m sure of as a Portland relationship counselor, it’s that couples fight about anything and everything, and contrary to popular belief, this is actually a part of intimacy. We let ourselves be moodier with the ones we love because we feel comfortable doing so, and sometimes, it’s a healthy thing. But healthy couples never withhold sex out of anger or use it to barter with. In fact, kissing or cuddling during or right after a fight can actually bridge the divide between you and act as a nonverbal way of reinforcing that this fight – whatever it may be – isn’t going to destroy the love between you.

Know how to switch gears. For long term couples, being sexy with each other can get more and more difficult as life gets in the way. How do you move from paying bills, picking up dog poop, or rinsing baby spit-up off your shirt to getting intimate? Couples with the healthiest relationships tend to be playful with each other and find shorthand ways that signal to each other their desire to get intimate. It can be anything from pinching, tickling, teasing, or cuddling, to a simple raised eyebrow and acknowledgement that the kids are asleep.

If you are having marriage problems caused by sex, don’t be embarrassed to seek help from a knowledgeable Portland marriage counselor.