20/06/2013 20:03 BST | Updated 21/08/2013 06:12 BST

Four Steps to Having 'Curl Your Toes' Sex in Marriage

If there is one area that needs to be more openly discussed among married couples, it's this one... sex.

It is easy to believe that no one else has difficulties with this subject. That other couples are having exciting, passionate, 'swinging from the chandeliers' sex every time.

Fact is, you couldn't be further from the truth.

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. ~Robert Frost

Every couple experiences difficulty in sex at some point. Specifically, in the area of sexual connection.

When it comes to sexual connection, there are three categories of couples. The sexually barren, the sexually average, and the blessed few. And membership in these categories has little to do with physical anatomy.

Couples who fall in the sexually barren category often are not having sex due to reasons other than physical incompatibility. They may have resentment, bitterness, disappointment or all of the above directed towards their mate.

While these emotions may manifest themselves in physical ways, the problem isn't physical. It's mental and emotional. If it truly is a physical issue, there are medical procedures and pharmacological products that may be tried. Viva Viagra, need I say more?

At the same time, the sexually average are not immune to difficulties. The difference is, they have had times when they felt a deeper connection and they are desperately trying to recapture or recreate the experience.

But to reach the promised land of the blessed few, you must learn to be more present not only during sex, but also during life. You have to grow up. And so does your spouse.

Everyone beyond the age of puberty is capable of having sex. But this doesn't mean we're ready to handle all the components involved with sex.

Truth is, most of us aren't ready.

Even if you have been having sex with your spouse for years, for me it has been over 20 years now, isn't there a part of you that still gets a bit anxious when it comes time for sex? Will I be turned down if I initiate? Will everything go great? Will I be able to perform? Will I achieve the connection I have desired for so long?

Sex is so much more than just an act.

Sex is a language.

When you begin to look at your sexual language, you discover it is in line with how you live your life. It will uncover the areas of your life where you are insecure, scared, anxious, or even ashamed.

To begin the growth required to be among the blessed few, work to be more present with your spouse. Both during sex and day to day interactions.

Better sex doesn't automatically create a better relationship, but the personal growth required to enhance sex and intimacy will improve the marriage in other ways.

Here are a few ideas on creating a more passionate relationship.

  1. Let the best of you run your life. If you're like me, you have a scared, angry, vindictive, or lazy side that limits the quality of your relationship. Instead, live from the resilient side of you. Remind yourself what is admirable, competent and good about yourself, and your spouse. Then, relate to your spouse as though they are capable of developing further as a person.
  2. Sustain eye contact with your spouse outside of the bedroom. This is a quick and meaningful (but not always easy) way to connect. Begin by trying this during your conversations. Beyond this, make an agreement with each other to look into each other's eyes for at least five minutes in a quiet, private place. This is not a staring contest. Instead, take the time to really look into each other and let yourself be seen. Expect to run into your own resistances. Note them in the back of your mind. Discuss the experience with your spouse. In time, this will become a warm and inviting experience.
  3. Make eye contact in bed. Building upon the previous point, try maintaining more eye contact in bed. Start by lying next to each other, and gaze into each other's eyes. Seek to remain relaxed, focus on your spouse and being seen by them. If you feel the urge to touch your spouse, touch their face or hold their hand. Stay away from their genitals until you can both reach a relaxed connection with some reliability. You can then expand this activity to include foreplay and intercourse.
  4. Pay attention to depth of involvement with your spouse during sex. This is a big step. When you have sex, you're using one or more of three psychological mindsets. You are focusing on 1) physical sensations, 2) playing out sexual fantasies, and/or 3) engaging your partner. Most people focus more on the first two. Instead, focus on engaging your partner during sex. Pay attention to what they seem to be thinking and feeling. Share with them what you are experiencing. Don't just simply try and bring him or her to orgasm, try to establish a deeper connection. Once you and your partner are good at engaging each other rather than getting lost in your sensations or playing out sexual scripts, you can work as a team to create terrific sexual experiences.

Sexual compatibility is developed over time.

Great sex does not just happen by chance - it's co-created by both spouses being more involved, not just physically present.

List adapted from Dr. David Schnarch's book, Passionate Marriage.