“You can’t start a fire without a spark” is my favourite line in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” as it is so true when it comes to passionate play. 

In my work with couples, the most common complaint is that their sex life is dampened, and has become rather boring and infrequent. They remember having fiery, hot sex, and now they are worried, wondering, “How do we get that back?” 

Sex is not a once-vibrant act that has burned out completely, lying in the ashes of a love-hearth. It’s still there—what’s missing is how you stoke life into the cooling embers of your relationship with each other. 

I remember watching a man build a fire. He constructed this most impressive pyre of logs—an engineering structural masterpiece. The problem was that those large logs simply would not light. The logs required the smaller kindling in order to light. When that kindling was tended to, it smoldered for a time before quickly igniting into quivering flames. By fanning those tentative flames, the heat slowly spread along slender limbs until finally those logs burst into a roaring delight. 

Passion is like that. It starts with tending to the small stuff and will spread with enduring patience. It requires delaying instant gratification and using some creative ingenuity so that the fire of love can be easily reignited time and time again.


So how do you fuel foreplay to reignite passion for the experience of strong love or sexual desire? 

Clean up the ashes

Cleaning up may not be the kind of dirty talk you were expecting but a messy space is one of the top pet peeves I hear repeatedly. So let’s get that mess out of your way. Look around your home for things that need putting away, throwing out or fixing up. What causes any form of irritation to either of you or between you? Take care of it. When you deal with it, it sends the message that you care about your partner. Creating orderly ambience is a welcoming invitation to feel more at ease and relaxed together, even if all you can manage is one ‘love-in’ room. 

In the book, The 5 Love Languages, an act of service is one ‘love language’ that you or your partner may need in order to feel loved. I had a pair of previous clients, both with very busy careers, who went so far as to hire a house cleaner whom they agreed was a huge relief and a marriage saver. It’s hard enough these days with all the tension and stress outside the home to be able to let your hair down, put your feet up and open up when everywhere you look there are things that need attention. Remember, it’s the small stuff that will fuel a fire, one way or the other.


Create a slow burn

It’s said that patience is a virtue and for passionate loving it certainly is. So practise patience while you find novel ways to connect with your partner that are outside your norm. With connection being key here, you can use ‘love notes’ with careful, deliberate intention to have them feel loved and in return, to be more loving. 

Go beyond, “Do you want me to pick up dinner?” or “Thinking about you.” Touch them deeper. Say heartfelt words like “I loved watching you sleep this morning, you looked so beautiful. I wanted to just hold you close and never leave.” Be direct, saying something like, “I’m going to slowly kiss you all over later tonight, starting with your toes and working my way up.” 

Know what your partner would love to hear and then say exactly that. You want to warm them up, love them up—the way they receive love. If you do not know what that is, try innovative angles. Make it your study until you elicit the warm response you know is there. 


Turn up the heat

Try leaving surprise love messages strategically placed around the house or send playful texts or warm voice messages. The choices are endless, as are your word choices. Constantly fan that flame with your partner by stirring their imagination and their heart. 

 In the beginning of a relationship, everything is shiny new and passionately hot as you haven’t done this ‘thing’ together before. After a while, the heat dies down and you now need to add some purposeful passion planning. 

Creating exciting adventures together can surely heat you up with the anticipation—in and out of the bedroom. Yes, take that dream vacation and yes, head to that new restaurant, but consider it may be hotter to play an adventurous adult version of dress-up. One client, dressed provocatively, met her husband as if they were total strangers at a distant hotel bar. They both assumed personas of each other’s fantasy lover. I’m told it was a rather sexy, hot and fun-filled evening. 

Let’s be honest, everyone has unexplored fantasies and most are harmless and worthy of some edgy exploration. If he dreams of spanking sexy redheads or platinum blondes, and you’re into that idea, get a wig. If she secretly swoons over a cowboy or a biker, get leather chaps. (Spurs or lassoes are optional.)

Just turn on your energies and playful expressions from time to time; otherwise you will get into fixed patterns that leave one or both of you bored. Go to edgy creativity instead and talk about it with good humour and enthusiasm, co-creating a loose fantasy script to spark your passions back to life. 

It’s the small stuff that matters the most—focus on the loving kindling, and in no time you’ll stoke that roaring fire of passion back to life. 


Julie Ward, an intimacy and relationship coach, offers deep insight and wisdom in a light-hearted, earthy manner. Her expertise has been showcased in Canada’s #1 magazine, Canadian Living, with many other contributions to radio, TV and speaker panels. Visit her at www.julieward.com