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Sex “every three or four months” and separate beds: The secret to our 16 year relationship.

We all love a truly great love story.

But real love stories are rarely like they are portrayed on the big screen. A wedding is not a ‘happy ever after’ finale, more like the opening credits to a very long movie.

Do you know what love sayings from around the world mean? Watch this video to test your knowledge. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

So, what does a real love story look like? In our Intimacy Stories series, Mamamia chats to couples about how they stay connected after decades together, even when you throw children, stressful work and mortgages into the mix.

Presented in three parts, our first couple disclose that it is definitely not a hot sex life that keeps them happy together after 16 years.

Psychologist and relationship expert Rachel Voysey also gives her professional opinion on why they – and many couples – can actually be happy this way.

Jayne and Matt* – married 16 years with two children.

Jayne and Matt met one drunken night at a pub in their hometown in country Victoria. The physical attraction was instant and after a few years of dating, they purchased a house, got engaged and then married in their front yard.

“When we first got together we were so lusty and into each other, these days we are more like loving best friends,” says Jayne.

“Matt works away a lot and I am home with our two children under 10. I still work as an accountant part-time, but we made a clear decision early on in our marriage that I wanted to be the primary carer of the kids and house, and he wanted the big career.

“I know that this wouldn’t suit everyone, but we like it and I always feel appreciated and loved. Matt works hard but when he’s home he helps out as much as he can with the kids – we are a team. I also think these regular periods apart are not a bad thing for us or any partnership!”

Jayne admits that while their friendship is stronger than ever, their sex life took a severe hit during her second pregnancy.

“I was in and out of hospital with various health issues and with a toddler at home, I was constantly exhausted. I ended up in early labour and had resulting gynaecological issues.

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“Sex for me changed and it is now quite painful…we certainly don’t have it as much as we used to. Maybe once every three or four months on average and we even have our own separate beds as we both sleep much better this way.

“What really matters is that we have a solid foundation and we always support each other. If I suddenly decided I wanted to start an Alpaca farm, Matt would probably laugh but he would then say ‘okay, how can we make this work?’”

Jayne and Matt might spend plenty of time apart, including at bedtime, but they are constantly in touch.

“We don’t just communicate about the kids, we send each other funny little messages throughout the day or screenshot things that make us laugh.”

Psychologist and founding director of The Relationship Room in Sydney, Rachel Voysey, is passionate about helping couples in distress.

Rachel had this to say about couples who are happy but have very little sex:

Age and stage matters.

For women, as we age, our hormones absolutely affect our sex drive.

After we have children we might be exhausted and our bodies may change. The same can be said for peri-menopause.

It is worth remembering that over the course of a relationship, the amount of sex you have will ebb and flow. During the young-kids phase for example, when you are tired, it might be more about saying ‘I love you’ in other ways.

Intimacy is different for everyone. Mia Freedman talks to Lisa Taddeo about her bestselling novel, Three Women – a story about sex and desire. Post continues below.

Lots of sex doesn’t always mean a great relationship.

In my experience, it is about determining if the lack of sex is an issue in an otherwise healthy relationship.

Some couples talk up how much sex they have and how adventurous it is, but it can be masking other issues. The partner initiating all this sex might be doing it to hide underlying problems within the relationship that are not being dealt with.

Be confident and communicate.

If a couple or one half of that couple wants more sex, it comes down to having the confidence to start a conversation about it.

It is a hard thing to do to open yourself up to being vulnerable, so you need to feel safe in your relationship to begin with.

It can be as simple as being playful with your partner and understanding what they need to help them reconnect. Perhaps they are stressed by the mess at home or they don’t feel heard and the power balance is out.

Part 2 of Mamamia’s Intimacy Stories will be published next week.

In the meantime, what do you do in your relationship to stay happy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

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