Sex used to be thrilling, passionate, always new. Now, after years together, you’ve settled into a routine that works, sort of. According to anew study from San Diego State University, couples are having less sex, particularly as they get older. The study found that at age 45 people had sex 60 times per year, dropping to 20 times per year at age 65. That doesn’t have to be you. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some excitement around sex? And wouldn’t it be nice if you actually looked forward to it? With some creativity, and a spirit of adventure, you can put the spice back in your sex life. Here’s where to start:

1. Make sex dates

When you were a new couple, you fantasized about each date for days beforehand. Put the anticipation back in your sex life by scheduling sex dates, looking forward to them with relish, and doing little things to let your partner know that you can’t wait for that first touch. Use mental foreplay: write notes, send sexy texts or phone messages, choose special lingerie for the occasion, put the lubricant in plain sight instead of in a drawer. Schedule your sex dates at least once a week. (Studies show that couples who have sex once a week are happiest.) If you’re worried that scheduling sex will take away the spontaneity, realize that much of what we used to think of as “spontaneity” was indulging that biological urge that isn’t quite as strong these days. Making sex dates really does work to compensate for the diminished hormonal rush.

2. Choose high-energy times

When do you feel most sexually primed? It’s probably morning or afternoon, not after a meal or at night, so plan sex for the times you have the most sexual energy. To increase that energy, exercise before your date. Any kind of exercise will help, though raising your heart rate by cycling, dancing, or brisk walking will increase blood flow to your whole body, making arousal easier. If you take medications that interfere with your libido, see if timing your meds can work.

3. Try something new

Talk to your partner ahead of time about what the two of you might add that you’ve never tried before. Some ideas: role play a fantasy, buy a new sex toy, blindfold your partner, meet somewhere new and pretend to pick each other up, go to a hotel. The possibilities are endless. If something turns out to be less sexy than you hoped, laugh about it and go back to the tried and true. Approach each new experience with a sense of humor, and bond with laughter as well as with adventure!

4. Read erotica

Why do you think Fifty Shades of Grey became so popular? We were titillated reading about kinky practices that we might or might not like to try in real life. Plus, we got to share vicariously the thrill of new passion and sexual exhilaration. Wherever your fantasies might take you, you can explore sex with a stranger, threesomes, rough sex, sweet sex, whatever you want – just by flipping pages.

Once an erotic tale has revved up your major sex organ – your brain! – take that excitement to your partner. If you have similar erotic tastes, read a selection together—but feel free to keep your fantasies private, too. If your partner is getting the benefit of your renewed sexual interest, you don’t need to reveal the fantasy that started the motor purring!

5. Change the goal

Let’s throw out the notion that “real” sex has to be defined as intercourse leading to orgasm. You can have great partner sex without intercourse entirely! (Some sex therapists call this “outercourse.”) Experiment with ways to pleasure each other – with hands, lips, vibrators, massage – and make the pleasure itself the goal. You and your partner may reach orgasm this way, or sometimes not. That’s not the goal, either. The new goal is to express your love and your sensuality, to celebrate how sexy it is to pleasure each other and ourselves. Letting go of the intercourse-plus-orgasm goal rigidity can take away the pressure to “perform” and allow you to relax into enjoying each other fully again.