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How to Resurrect Your Sex Life

What to do when you haven't done "it" in a long time

Take it easy. Start the conversation with kind and loving language. Say how much you love your partner, how attractive she or he is, how much you're looking forward to touching (and being touched by) him or her. Explain that you'd like to start with cuddling and then massage. A little snuggling should make an easy first step for both parties.

Try nonsexual massage. Experiment with "sensate focus" — a Masters and Johnson technique in which one partner gently strokes the other's naked body, back and front, each person learning how to touch and be touched again. As you vary the pressure of your touch, you give and get feedback on what feels good; however, there is no attempt to arouse the other person with genital touching. Instead, the goal is a sensual experience that builds trust (and comfort with physical interaction). Do as many sessions as you need to feel comfortable — and to find yourself craving more.

Clear the decks for action. You may need to buy a lubricant or a vaginal moisturizer to repair tissues. It may be necessary to get medical advice on erectile or medication issues. There are more solutions to physical problems than you can imagine.

Go a-courtin'. Flirt with each other during the day or at a dinner out. Say nice things about the sensate-focus exercises. Put on music. Dress up. Drink a glass of something festive. Set a positive mood.

Aim low. When you feel ready to make love, remove the stress by lowering expectations. Assure one another that this is just a start — the encounter need not include intercourse or orgasms. Agree that the main event is to give each other pleasure again. Then let yourselves cross whatever wasteland has been keeping you apart.

Do it till you're satisfied. Now comes the fun part: Practice what you've learned — and don't wait too long to make love again!

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