13 Things Couples Can Do That Lead to a Healthy Sex Life!

Do you know what the experts say about spicing up your sex life?

According to Dr. John Gottman, there are 13 things that couples do who have a healthy and thriving sex life! Gottman is an expert in relationship dynamics and the author of more than 40 books, including The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. It is important to acknowledge Dr. Gottman’s validity as a scientist and a clinician because as a culture, we are inundated with advice and tips regarding what constitutes a “good sex life.” While there are a lot of theories and opinions out there, few are backed up by research. Gottman, however, has done extensive studies on more than 3,000 couples over four decades. 

Here is what he found: 

13 things that lead to a great sex life:
  1. Say “I love you” to each other each day
  2. Kiss each other passionately
  3. Exchange gifts that are romantic
  4. Know each other’s turn-ons and turn-offs
  5. Show physical affection to each other
  6. Have fun!
  7. Cuddle
  8. Put sex at the top of the list, not last
  9. Continue to be friends
  10. Talk to each other about your sex lives
  11. Go out on a date each week
  12. Take romantic vacations together
  13. Turn towards each other

The first 12 tips are things we can all understand. They are usually present at the beginning of a relationship, but may dwindle or even disappear completely as time goes on. But according to Gottman, it’s critical that we continue these activities throughout our relationship, which might take effort… and that’s okay! Things that might have come natural in the beginning – like putting sex at the top fo the list, might take some intentional action after several years of being together. Here’s the thing… don’t let that stop you.

The last tip, ‘turn towards each other’, is a bit different and takes more awareness of your actions and your state of mind. It is an essential component of the couple’s friendship, and according to Gottman, good sex is all about nurturing friendship in the relationship. Gottman’s theory states there are three things couples need to do to foster a strong friendship:

1. Build Love Maps

Love maps are the road map to your partner’s internal world, dreams, hopes and wishes. Love maps are built from engaging in a specific form of communication by asking open-ended questions opposed to closed-ended questions. Open ended questions, such as as ‘How do you want our lives to look in 5 years?’, allow for long answers and spark dialogue between you and your partner, as opposed to closed-ended questions such as ‘Do you want to buy a house someday?’, which can lead to yes and no answers.

2. Share Fondness and Admiration

In a relationship with fondness and admiration, affection and respect are expressed often. For this dynamic to thrive, appreciation and positivity must be predominate during interactions. In fact, Gottman found in his research that couples remained stable and happy, as long as the ratio of positive to negative interaction during conflict was greater than or equal to 5:1. For more on this ratio, read Gottman’s take on The Positive Perspective. The point is, nobody responds well to criticism and focusing on what is wrong with your partner – even with the best intentions – does not work. Instead, focus on what your partner does right through positive reinforcement and build upon that.

3. Turn Towards Instead of Away

Couples are constantly bidding for attention, affirmation and affection from one another. Bids can include any attempt for positive engagement and every bid in a relationship is a potential connection moment. A partner’s response to these bids are critical! The more your partner turn towards your bid, the stronger your trust and connection will be. Turning toward bids help build what Gottman refers to as an emotional bank account. An emotional bank account describes the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship. It’s an account of how safe you feel with a person and like a normal banking account, you can make deposits and withdrawals.

The behaviors associated with a good sex life and the components of friendship create a culture of respect and positivity. This environment is not only good for intimacy but overall well being for any relationship!

If you’re looking for more resources to improve your relationship, check out more of Lincoln Park Therapy’s blog posts… Click here to learn about the 5 words that can have a dramatic impact on relationships and here to learn more about mingling money with your SO. And if you are currently experiencing relationship issues, counseling can help you to learn the tools you need need to establish higher levels of trust and intimacy. Schedule a time to come in and talk with one of our therapists (with or without your partner). We’d love to meet you.

Written by: Millie Huckabee, LPC Therapist at Lincoln Park Therapy Group


If you’re in the Chicago area and interested in therapy services, you can learn more about starting here. Or if you’re ready to get started, reach out to us and schedule an appointment.