Couples looking to spice up their sex lives often assume the effort involves some grand overhaul of intimacy and a venture into uncharted territory to have any real impact in the bedroom -- not so, says Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus author John Gray. He's been counseling couples for years in the art of communication and connection, and as he tells "Oprah: Where Are They Now -- Extra," the key to spicing up a sex life is actually a very familiar one.
"Romance spices up a sex life," he says. And it doesn't have to be complicated.
"Romance is when the man plans something in advance that's out of the ordinary, and the woman anticipates that. She's looking forward to that," he continues. "It's one-sided. It's what he's going to do for her."
Gray suggests having a discussion with your partner a week in advance about what this planned event should be. The discussion, he adds, should be a true back-and-forth conversation, not a guessing game in which one person is unclear about what the other is looking for.
"She's going to inform him of three things that would really make her happy... His job is to provide that for her," Gray says. "Then, when they actually do it, her job is to be happy while he provides that. That's the dance of romance."
The anticipation in this scenario is what's truly effective. As the anticipation builds, so does the sense of romance, according to Gray. "At that time, oxytocin is being produced that lowers her stress and increases her romantic feelings," he explains.
So, Gray continues, make sure that you don't wait until the last minute when trying to do something "romantic."
"Most married men wait until the weekend and say to their wives, 'What would you like to do? I'll do anything,'" Gray says. "That's not romantic, and men don't realize that."
On that actual date, don't forget to appreciate each other and resurface the initial spark that brought you together. "You know, when you were dating a guy, no matter what happened, you were happy just to be with him," Gray says. "You've got to find that part of you and be happy no matter what, because he's doing his best."
This visible happiness is what helps one romantic gesture turn into a continual cycle of romance.
"When you're happy with a man doing his best, next time he'll do better," Gray says. "That's what motivates men. So that's a secret of creating romance: plan in advance."
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