When was the last time you and your husband had sex? Do you feel like the physical intimacy between you is slowly withering away? In this eye-opening TED talk, seasoned marriage therapist, Michele Weiner-Davis explains how to turn this situation around.
Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW is an internationally renowned relationship expert, best-selling author, marriage therapist, and professional speaker. Among the first in her field to courageously speak out about the pitfalls of unnecessary divorce, Michele has been active in spearheading the now popular movement urging couples to make their marriages work and keep their families together. Michele is the Director of The Divorce Busting® Center and the founder of www.divorcebusting.com. She has been a frequent guest on shows such as Oprah, 20/20, 48 Hours, The TODAY show, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, and so on. Her work as been featured in most major newspapers and magazines.
If the sex has gone out of your marriage, you may feel very alone. But trust me — you’re not. Did you know that “sexless marriage” is the most Googled phrase about sex and marriage? Some experts estimate that 15-20% of marriages can be classified as “sexless” because the frequency of sex is less than 10 times per year. Even if that number doesn’t fit your relationship exactly, you may still feel that your sex life is much less satisfying than it used to be.
The truth is that there’s no magic “sex quota” out there. How often you have sex is up to you and your husband. It’s about finding the frequency that meets both of your needs. If one of does not want sex very much and the other is feeling upset because they want more, then it’s important to figure out what’s going on and address it.
Let’s take at a look at a few reasons why you may be in a “sex slump.” Do any of these situations fit your marriage?
1. Bad timing. You just had a baby. One of you has been working really long hours. The stress level has been sky-high. You’re barely getting enough sleep to get by. Life happens and sometimes sex is put on the back burner for a while. Sexuality is not all about sexual intercourse, but from a physical standpoint, the less you have sex, the less you actually feel like having sex. Continue to be genuinely affectionate with your spouse no matter what, and don’t forget to bring the physical connection back into the picture as soon as you can.
2. No time alone. You may not be having sex simply because you are not spending enough private time together. This is a very common situation with couples who have small children who may be in and out of their parents’ bedroom at all hours of the night. It’s easy for the rest of your life to crowd out your sex life, so you have to make it a priority to keep the two of you in the picture. Plan dates, even if they are in your own house after the kids go to sleep. And let yourself get creative about the times or places you might indulge in a quickie.
3. Emotional roadblocks. Sometimes resentments, criticism, blame, or other emotional negativity can squash the desire to be sexually intimate. It’s truly hard to feel sexual desire toward someone who has hurt your feelings or is neglecting you. It’s important to try to clear the emotional air to get the sexual connection going again. If you continue to let the negativity mount, it can be a slippery slope. First the sexual connection goes, and then the emotional connection starts to unravel if you’re not careful. If you feel like negativity has already flooded your relationship and you’re truly stuck, don’t hesitate to get some counseling to help you find the path back to each other.
4. Physical causes. Fatigue, hormonal changes, chronic health problems, medications, and normal aging are some of the physical factors that affect your sexual relationship. Check with your physician for help in dealing with any physical cause that may be affecting the physical intimacy in your relationship. It’s helpful to remember that sexuality doesn’t just mean intercourse. Expand your definition of sex to include lingering touch, intimate play, oral sex, flirting, kissing, hugging,and even intense eye contact. Staying connected in these ways can help meet your needs while you work on improving the other aspects of your sex life.
5. Boredom. After many years of being together, you may have become too predictable to each other. Perhaps, sex has become routine and uninspiring. Sex is always at the same time, with the lights out, in the same position…very mechanical. The solution may be as simple as introducing some novelty and variety into your relationship. Get creative, and find some ways to spice up your love life.
A sexless marriage becomes dangerous when it isn’t meeting both of your needs or it isn’t based on what you both want. In other words, if one of you declares, “That’s it, we’re done with sex!” without talking about it with the other person, your marriage enters risky territory. It can be especially harmful if one of you is not a big talker and mainly shares how you feel about your partner through the sexual connection. Couples in this situation may also benefit from some outside help with their marriage.
It’s hard to talk about, or even acknowledge to ourselves sometimes, the realities of sexless marriage. I hope it helps to know that other couples experience this, too, and that with some patience, the passion and connection in your relationship can often be restored.