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Desire in (very) long-term relationships

Desire in (very) long-term relationships

By Stacey O'Gorman

Meet Belinda Wiley, a Sex and Relationship Coach who specialises in helping people reignite sexual desire in their long-term relationships.


After having Belinda on my podcast a few weeks ago, I knew this would be the start of a special friendship. As we sat in the recording studio, cup of tea in hand, I instantly felt at ease in her presence. From the moment she sat down, I was in awe of her vulnerability and knowledge of all things sex and relationships. It felt like I had known her forever and that we could have stayed in that little room chatting away for hours longer. 


The reason I feel so interested in this particular topic is that I haven’t yet been able to crack the code on this in my own life. I wonder if it is even possible to sustain and grow such levels of intimacy.


What drew me to Belinda initially, apart from her radiance, magnetism, and wisdom, was the work she does. After getting to know her a little fuller, I understand why there was such a pull; Belinda is the epitome of someone who practices what she preaches. She has more than 60 years of life experience under her belt, and what she teaches is reflected in her own life and marriage. 


She is living proof that deep connection over many years is possible. Having been married for nearly four decades, Belinda has helped hundreds of women and couples maintain and grow physical and emotional intimacy in their relationships. 


I sat down with Belinda to ask her about her life and work. 

What brought you to this work?

I married when I was 26 and had three children over six years. I was predominantly a stay-at-home Mum, and as the kids got older, I was involved in our family businesses. Our relationship started full of passion with lots of sex, but as I started raising small humans, creating over nine businesses, and building homes, our sex life seemed routine at best. We didn’t know how to talk kindly to each other about our frustrations, without it ending up in arguments and hurtful comments. I started avoiding sex, although I felt a sense of responsibility. I felt the ‘dutiful wife’ feelings, living an amazing life provided for by our businesses.


From a young age, I was always searching for meaning in life. I had always been interested in personal growth, but even after studying and teaching yoga, I felt like something was missing. My sex life wasn’t getting any better, and I wanted to understand myself more fully. I suggested my husband and I see a counsellor. He didn’t want to; he said he was happy. So there I was thinking, “what is wrong with me?” Life carried on. We muddled through our sex life, having some ordinary sex, occasional amazing sex, but most of the time questioning, “is this really it?”.


It wasn’t until I discovered the teachings of Layla Martin that I realised I wanted to do something about how I was feeling. I did her course on women’s sexuality which was really empowering, but also felt a little weird doing some of the practices, including self-pleasuring. Although it was unfamiliar at first, my body was responding. I became super curious about my sexual pleasure and what turned me on. I noticed the numbness in parts of my body and places I struggled to connect with, like my cervix and my nipples. It made sense to me that I would feel disconnected from these areas after three births.


I then decided to dive in and do a certification in Sex, Love and Relationships with Layla, so I could start sharing the magic I had learnt within my own body. From there, I did an intensive Relationship Transformation training. This included looking at my own marriage and learning new ways to gain clarity and connection, and learning to communicate lovingly and honestly.


From there, my love for my sexual self grew. I started feeling alive and in my body, and my marriage shifted up a gear. There was a narrative change in our sex life, shifting from “how many orgasms can we have?” to “how much pleasure can we have together?”


How long have you been married, and what have been the keys to keeping physical and emotional intimacy alive between you and your husband?

We have been together for 42 years! My ‘three Cs of Intimacy’ have been vital in keeping our physical and emotional intimacy thriving all these years. I believe when you both prioritise your relationship, communicate with love and kindness and connect intimately regularly, this leads to deep erotic intimacy.


Commitment to our relationship


Having both feet in the relationship is vital. Appreciating and prioritising the relationship is healing for both partners. Of course, childhood wounds will appear in the relationship, but understanding that long-term happiness is possible through learning and growing together is so important.


We’re often taught to be independent and to tell our partners what we each need by demanding it from them. In my experience, this doesn’t work. It inevitably creates chaos, distance, and lots of arguments. When a couple creates a narrative shift and are both focused on, and willing to, meet each other's needs, a kind of bubble forms around both partners that starts to feel safe and loving. It calms both people’s nervous systems, and the relationship takes on a whole new look and feel. This is because the couple is prioritising the relationship rather than prioritising themselves.


By working actively on meeting your partner’s needs and being there for them, you get your own needs met. It is an ongoing practice, but this is what thriving relationships require. This is what I started practising with my husband, and it made so much sense to us both.




Learning to genuinely listen to each other helps both partners feel heard. This includes speaking in a way that does not become moaning or blaming the other, otherwise, partners will switch off. Learning to use ‘I’ statements rather than pointing the finger with ‘you’ statements also goes a long way in helping a partner feel understood. Knowing what behaviours have been inherited from parents or caregivers and whether it serves the relationship or not can help create ways of communicating that make sense for the relationship. This is all an ongoing practice, and each relationship will be unique.




Concentrated time together is extremely important. This includes booking sex dates for at least two hours and committing to those on a regular basis. Remembering to be intimate in small manageable ways daily like hugs, smiles, small touches to each other’s bodies, kissing, texting, and checking-in chats all support better sex. Do your best to regularly communicate:


What we really want

What we may be afraid of

What we love about each other


When done regularly, this is the perfect connection practice if a couple feels out of touch.  It’s amazingly easy to say “I’ve got work”, or “Sorry, shall we do it next week?”, and then that week easily becomes next month or never happens. This leaves room for resentment to breed, as communication has not been maintained regularly, and sex is the last thing on the couple's minds. 

How did you keep the intimacy alive whilst going through parenthood?

We have three adult children in their early to mid-30s now. In honesty, I’m not sure we did work on keeping the intimacy alive whilst parenting in our 20s through to mid-50s. I know we both felt guilty a lot of the time that we hadn’t had sex. We would say ”we probably should”, and then couldn’t understand why we didn’t do it more when we eventually did!


I do remember having moments in my 40s where I thought, “I don't think I can do this mother and wife thing anymore. It feels like I am giving out so much, and it feels way too hard”. Peri–menopause and menopause kicked in with a blaze of glory. Hot flushes, weight gain, and hormonal fluctuations were just some of the symptoms I experienced. I remember trying bio–identical hormones and masses of vitamins, all at great expense. Finally, I came to terms with the fact that ageing is inevitable and should be embraced (which is not easy in the world we live in where youth is put on a pedestal).


Battling through menopause really affected my body, and sex did not feel nearly as interesting or exciting with my husband.  We thought we must be getting bored with our usual sex routine. If I didn’t feel turned on, we would try porn. This felt stimulating to start with, but then became uninteresting as we were fantasising in our heads instead of being present in our bodies. To me, being fully present is way more erotic. Make your sexual experience your own by experimenting and being playfully curious! You might build orgasmic energy using the edging technique, introduce toys, or whatever the fuck you like!


It wasn’t until I was in my late 50s that I became curious about my sexuality and what pleasure meant to me. I started educating myself on everything I could to get to know my body and understand the power of pleasure. I was 59 when I started my study to become a sex and relationship coach. Also, remember, sex and intimacy can be seasonal. We go through patches, months, quarters and seasons where we are just busy, and that’s ok. Keeping up communication and prioritising your relationship is key to a shared experience rather than feeling alone or guilty that sex is not a priority.

Who is your typical clientele, and what are the main reasons people come and see you?

My typical clientele is aged between 40 and 65, in predominantly heterosexual, monogamous relationships. Most are in long-term relationships. There are many reasons people come to see me, but some common concerns are:


  • Women who, since having had children, haven't had much sexual drive and are concerned as it gets longer and longer between intimacy. There is usually still an attraction with their partners but are at a point where they want more intimacy. They often feel more like friends than lovers and that the spark has left the building;
  • Fears around low sex drive from one of the partners and a feeling like something is wrong with them;
  • Women who feel less adventurous or experience painful sex after traumatic births. They’re often fearful about urinary tract infections or feel an overall anxiousness about having any intimacy, which can be the root cause of the painful sex. They’re also often lost as to how to communicate this with their partners;
  • Men who haven’t had sex with their partners for a long time (sometimes many years), and don’t know how to bring it up without hurting their partner. 

What are some of the most underestimated requirements of a good sex life?

  • Truly listening to your partner and not judging them for what sexual desires they might have;
  • Remaining open to trying different ways of experiencing sexual pleasure;
  • Taking yourself less seriously when it comes to sex;
  • Being vulnerable with your partner;
  • Learning to be present in your body.

You can find Belinda Wiley here

Stacey O'Gorman

– Sex Coach & Podcast Host

Stacey is a Holistic Sex Coach, and Maitre d' of the new podcast, ‘Finger Food’. She is based in Auckland, New Zealand.