Sexual desire is a hot topic these days, considering that 15 to 20 percent of couples are reported to be living in sexless marriages (which means they’re having sex 10 times a year or less). With low desire fast becoming a top sexual concern for couples, it’s more important than ever that we learn how to keep the spark alive. With this in mind, I came up with a list of three big myths of sexual desire which may prevent us from having the sex we want and deserve. Here are these three myths – and my tips on how to overcome them.

Myth #1: As long as you love each other, desire will follow. Often we are led to believe that diminishing sexual desire means that we don’t love each other enough – or that something is broken in our relationship. The truth is that even people in happy relationships experience that dreaded loss of spark.

Sexual desire is complex. It’s influenced by a lot of different factors: health and medications; stress; the quality of your relationship; your and your partner’s sexual skills; trust and communication; and many more. And there is also the nature of sexual desire itself, which thrives on mystery, excitement, and unpredictability. These qualities are in short supply in long-term, committed relationships. If you don’t believe me, just think back to the early days of your relationship. Remember just how easy it was to feel hot for each other in those giddy days of novelty and mutual exploration.

So, if desire isn’t burning hot anymore in your relationship, remember that this happens to most couples and it’s not something to be ashamed of. Nor does it mean that you don’t love each other enough. In fact, expecting love alone to magically provide sexual desire in a long-term relationship is simply unrealistic. The bottom line is that sexual desire needs help from both partners to keep burning hot.

Myth #2: Marriage (or long-term partnership) means the end of sex. This myth is especially widespread in popular culture. How often do you hear marriage and commitment described as the one surefire way to kill your sex life? How often do (apparently well-meaning) people cheerfully tell expecting parents that “once that kid comes, you can say goodbye to sex”? Hearing all this, you may think that once you make a commitment to another person, you have no choice but to hang up your sexy hat and settle for a passionless existence. This myth is particularly sneaky, because there is a grain of truth in all the fear-mongering: sexual desire (when nothing is done to sustain it) does have a tendency to decline over time.

Many of us find ourselves at the beginning of our relationships, drunk on the new love and passion, determined to believe that we will be different, because (spoiler alert, Myth #1!) we really love each other. We believe that we can beat the odds and not end up like those other, passionless couples – which makes the natural decline of desire in our relationship all the more devastating. Then it’s our time to eat a big slice of humble pie and to admit to ourselves that those other people were right all along. The spark is gone (or greatly diminished), and we just have to accept it.

I’ve got news for you: you don’t have to accept it. Other people’s experiences don’t have to be your own. In fact, if you understand how sexual desire works, and acknowledge that you and your partner need to collaborate to keep its fires burning – you will be light years ahead of everyone else. Here’s the bottom line: being too idealistic or too pessimistic about desire is a huge waste of your time. It takes your attention away from one simple truth: you and your partner both have the power to create desire in your relationship. If you want to make it work, you need to claim this power.

Myth #3: Sexual desire can be assessed and measured. Ever notice how, when we hear sex discussed in the media, the focus is mostly on the quantity and frequency? “How many times a week do you have sex?” “How often do you have orgasms?” The impression that we get is that desire can somehow be measured, quantified, and reduced to a simple formula. Nothing could be further from the truth. Desire is alive and vibrant. It has its highs and lows; it moves, shifts and grows, just like your relationship does – just like you do.

Here are some more things to consider. When it comes to sexual desire, we’re not all wired the same. Some of us have naturally higher or lower sex drives (libidos). In fact, in a relationship where one partner naturally desires more sex, and the other naturally desires less, this can create a challenge. But how about a couple who both have naturally low sex drives? If they listen to the relentless talk of sexual frequency, they may feel like something is wrong with them, like they need to try harder to have more sex. But as long as they are compatible and happy with their sex life, their satisfaction is all that matters – not some arbitrary standards of sexual frequency.

As you can see, desire isn’t simple, and it cannot – and should not – be reduced to a set of numbers. Every couple is different. The real key to growing desire in your relationship is to stop focusing so much on the sex you’re not having and instead, to start focusing on the sex that you are having. Focus on quality instead of quantity. Think about what sparks desire in you and your partner. What if you explored your sexual fantasies, or improved your sexual skills (because no matter how good you are, there’s always room to grow)? What if you simply laughed more, kissed more, touched more, listened better? What if you moved sex from the bottom of your priority list back to where it belongs, to the top? If you do this, you may discover that not only are you having better sex, you’re also having sex more often – without even trying.

What it all comes down to is this: in order to enjoy a passionate sexual relationship, you need to make the choice to become engaged in it, fully and without reservations. Once you do, you can start rekindling the flame of desire in your relationship, and finding fun and creative ways to feed that flame for many years to come.

Author's Bio: 

Valeria Chuba, PhD, MS, ACS is a board certified clinical sexologist and sex & relationship expert and coach. Dr. Valeria is a member of The American College of Sexologists (ACS); the World Association of Sex Coaches; and The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS). She offers coaching, online workshops, and live events for women, men, and couples. Dr. Valeria's approach is focused on sex-positivity, empowerment, and real tools and solutions to help people create sexual pleasure and fulfillment in their lives and relationships. Dr. Valeria is the Official Guide to Sexuality for and the host of the Get Sex-Smart podcast.