When you’re in a long term relationship, you fantasize that you’ll live happily sexually ever after. But the struggle when you and your partner have stopped having sex is real for many couples.

Just how do you talk about the lack of sex in a relationship? Although it’s a hard topic to broach, experts say a dwindling sex life can happen for a variety of reasons and sometimes, it’s hard to assess what’s actually going on.

A study in the journal Social Indicators Research found that people who believed they were having less sex than their peers were unhappier than those who believed they were having as much or more than their peers, the University of Colorado, Boulder, reported.

However, it is important for both partners to keep the communication channels open. Follow these tips for navigating a healthy dialogue.relationship

Set the ego aside

The first step in addressing this issue is putting your ego aside and acknowledging that a problem exists. Don’t start the dialogue on a defensive note. Let it come from a place of curiosity. For instance, ask your partner why your level of physical intimacy has gone down. A nonconfrontational approach will allow a frank and open discussion.

Timing is everything

It is important to let your significant other know that you have something important to discuss in advance. That way, you both can set aside some time to have a heart-to-heart talk. Don’t ambush your partner in a restaurant or catch the person off guard at a vulnerable moment.

Active listening

Most people aren’t great active listeners. So don’t go formulating a response in your head while your partner is opening about key feelings. Bringing up unrelated issues will make the situation more complex. A breakdown in communication can also have dramatic effects on your sex life.

Seek help

If all else fails, approach a therapist. An outside perspective can do wonders for a relationship.

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