Most monogamous couples cringe at the idea of celibacy, even though some married couples have been celibate for years based on mere circumstance. Sex is such an integral part of a relationship that celibacy is viewed as a deprivation of privileges. However, studies have shown that celibacy can actually improve a relationship, and if youíve never given it a shot, you might want to see how it goes.

Celibacy is defined as a conscious abstinence from sex, which means that one individual or a couple decides to forgo sex for a set period of time. In other cultures, celibacy is considered a spiritual trek, and is meant to heighten appreciation for other aspects of life. No matter the reason youíve chosen celibacy, it can certainly improve the other factors in a relationship.

Here are a few tips for using celibacy to improve your relationship:

1. Set a Reasonable Goal. If you donít honestly believe that you can be celibate for six weeks, then donít try. Celibacy is only effective if you are able to complete the goals you have set for yourself. If, after three weeks, you give in to temptation, then youíve undermined the entire purpose of celibacy in your relationship.

The best thing to do is to start small. You and your significant other can try celibacy for a week, and see how it goes. If, at the end of that week-long period, you feel that you should go longer, then do so! But start small and work your way up to a larger goal.

2. Use Celibacy Effectively. If, for example, you decide to try celibacy for a week, and you and your partner spend no time together during that week, then the celibacy idea was all for naught. Celibacy should be a time used to explore other aspects of a relationship, such as trying a new hobby together or spending time just talking. If you have no contact with your partner during celibacy, then you have no opportunity to explore different sides of each other.

3. Donít Abstain from All Physical Contact. Just because youíve vowed not to have sex for a certain period of time does not mean that you can not touch. Celibate people can still kiss, hug, hold hands and even cuddle, as long as they donít proceed to sexual activity. At night, before bed, when you might otherwise be having sex, spend time just lying next to one another, talking and touching. This can heighten your awareness of the other person in the relationship and will place emphasis on touching for the purpose of affection, rather than orgasm.

4. Donít Use Celibacy as a Weapon. Celibacy should be a mutual decision made between two people in a relationship, not a weapon wielded by one side. Demanding that your partner do something in order to end celibacy is not only cruel, but detrimental to the relationship. After celibacy has ended, your normal sexual life can resume. You might find that you are more in-tune with your partner, and that your sexual experience is heightened as a result of the celibacy. Youíll have given yourselves time to remember why you are together in the first place, and only good things can come from that.