You fantasize about long, languorous sessions of lovemaking with your spouse, quickies before the kids rise, and steamy surprises in the afternoon. And yet—that’s not what is happening in your marriage. In fact you can’t remember the last time you and your spouse touched passionately. Suffering in a sexless marriage can be lonely and isolating.
We live in a sex negative world. Even though images of sexy people are plastered everywhere --we really don’t support healthy sexual expression. What does “healthy sexual expression” even look like you may wonder? There are so many messages that sex is “nasty” why would you want to do it with the person you love most in the world—your beloved spouse and the parent of your children?
But we need sex. People who have sex frequently have better immune systems, stress response, and lower blood pressure. Sex burns calories, tones muscles and promotes the flow of oxytocin, which when released during orgasm helps increase connection, empathy and bonding. So let’s have great sex with our spouses to improve our health and strengthen our marriages!
Here’s a few ideas:
- Identify the source of the problem: Relationships are multi-faceted. You may be very well matched in many areas but atrophied sexually. Cultural beliefs, past trauma, workaholism, drinking, body image issues can all drive a wedge between you and your spouse. Try to identify the origin of the problem. Resist the urge to hang it all on one of you. Marriages are interdependent—pinpoint what your pattern is together.
- Get a counselor to sort it out: The very act of going to a therapist office and asking for help says “we are committed to making changes.” Find a safe space to sort out your issues.
- Schedule Sex - Don’t Wait for Sexual Arousal: It can be a challenging to let go of the myth that great sex happens spontaneously. Maybe it did before kids, hectic careers and schedules. But now sex needs to be put in your calendar like working out or grocery shopping.
- Lower your standards.:Yes—you read that correctly. Sex with our spouse can be so loaded with expectations of perfection, fulfillment, being the perfectly happy connected married couple. Do you remember having amazing sex with someone you were casually dating? When the stakes are low this can actually free you up to cut loose. Is there a way to capture that abandon with your spouse?
- Explore the forbidden: Can you share your sexual fantasies and erotic life with your spouse? Test the waters. Trying to have politically correct sex kills the erotic charge. I am not suggesting you do anything that goes against your value system—but fantasies are rarely politically correct. I am an ardent feminist—yet I love being a submissive in the bedroom. I don’t want to be dominated at the workplace or in the kitchen! But that’s the point of sexual charge—it’s often surprisingly contrary to our self-perceptions. Can you play with your taboo feelings together?
- Get your sexual needs met elsewhere: Considering that there is a lot of cheating already happening, is it possible to make honest straightforward agreements about sex? Why would you want to take this risk? Taking the pressure off of each other can actually do several positive things. It can remove the inflammation between you. Now there is a choice. This may allow space to rekindle sexual desire. Also, your spouse may surprise you by either changing or by giving you their blessing. You might create an honest arrangement that allows both of you to get what you need. It can be done.
Whatever you do, keep in mind a dearth of sex can happen in the best of marriages. Explore what is possible for you and your spouse—and don’t give up!