Living In A Sexless Marriage?
5 Must Do Tips That Can Help
Have you been married for a while or are you so busy with life that there seems to be no time or desire for intimacy? Maybe there’s time, but the spark just isn’t there. You don’t want to have sex with your spouse.
“I have not had sex for over two years…and I have no desire for it at all. None, nothing, no craving, desire, need, want, thought… Am I sick in the head?” asked a 40-something wife from South Carolina who goes by the name “Auntbirdy.”
She’s not alone, according to Tina Tessina, Ph.D., a Long Beach, California psychotherapist also known as Dr. Romance. “This is a problem I get in counseling all the time. Couples will wait for a couple of years without sex before coming in for counseling,” says Tessina, author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three things that Can Ruin your Marriage.
“It’s so important to keep your sexual connection alive. Otherwise, you open the door for someone else to walk in. The skills couples need to keep intimacy alive in a long-term relationship differ from new relationship intimacy skills, and they’re not easy to learn because people don’t talk about them. Basically, couples need to lower their expectations of romance and glamour and raise the level of fun they have together,” Tessina says.
In her book The Sex-Starved Marriage, Michele Weiner Davis cites research that around one in 20 couples are having sex less than once a month — which isn’t a good thing for a marriage.
And Divorce360 community member JaimeM’s comments about the issue in her marriage suggest Davis is right. “I don’t remember the last time we had sex,” writes JaimeM, a 30-something-year-old mom from Pennsylvania. “Our sex life has never been very good. Now we’re such strangers we don’t know where to start. We’ve done a year without sex a few times. Now we realize it was a symptom of a bigger problem.”
“There obviously is more to this then just sex,” community member busydad answers in response to another person who asked, “Could a low- or no-sex drive ruin your marriage?” He says, “I know when my ex-wife started using sex as a tool it turned me off and I wanted nothing to do with her, and I [too] was accused of having an affair. [The] fact of the matter is when she [stopped] acting like my life long partner I wasn’t attracted to her sexually. So get some help if you want to find out what is the real root of the problem.”
“For many men and women, sexuality and being sexually intimate with their partner is a huge part of connecting, bonding and expressing their love,” said relationship expert Brenda Della Casa, author of the book, Cinderella Was a Liar. Still, she says, “In spite of what we see in the movies, most couples are not getting it on passionately every night.”
She says partners need to stop worrying about the amount of sex and pay attention to each other’s needs to discover what works for them as a couple. “Many people don’t like to admit that sex is an important part of relationships because we have been taught that it’s a fringe benefit so to speak but that’s not reality for many men and women. For some people, sex is an essential part of a union. Communicate with your partner, find out how they are feeling, what they need, what they like and ask them if they are resentful or hurt about anything. If you need to enlist the help of a qualified marriage counselor, take the huge step to reach out for help.”
Community member vicki546 agrees. “Making love in your marriage is important, and if there is no sex, then it’s hard to stay intimate in it. If your wife isn’t wanting sex, then I’d say there is some hidden reason. It’s one thing to be tired from raising kids, or be working all the time and you just can’t find the time, but lets face it, most people who care about each other ‘find’ the time. And anyway, making love isn’t suppose to be a chore, it’s fun, and it’s exciting, and if you keep it fresh, it can also be very fulfilling,” she says. “Don’t ever think sex isn’t important because it is important. In fact, it’s that intimate time you have together that keeps you connected in my opinion. Without it, your marriage suffers, and nobody comes out the winner.”
TIPS TO KEEPING INTIMACY ALIVE IN A MARRIAGE
by Tina Tessina
1. Hold regular weekly talks.
Tessina calls these “State of the Union” meetings. Keep the problems minor, the resentment level down, and the communication open, so that there is time and space for intimacy.
2. Develop a sense of humor.
In a successful, long-term relationship, passion becomes a shared sense of humor and goodwill toward each other. Tessina says couples have to develop these things with one another.
3. Develop intimacy — together.
“Generally, men value competency and problem solving. Women value intimacy and emotional connection,” Tessina says. “The truth is that learning successful problem solving ends fighting and power struggles, and therefore leads to more intimacy. You may think he’s focused entirely on time, power or money, but what he’s really trying to do is create enough security that he can feel safe to let his guard down. Intimacy is the art of making your partner feel understood and accepted. When this feeling is created, barriers fall.”
4. Think positive.
“Gentle touch, eye contact a gentle sense of humor and the right words all create the atmosphere. Positive comments on your partner’s looks or the day’s activities positively will also help,” Tessina says.
5. Listen to one another.
Couples disconnect when they don’t feel interested in each other. To reconnect, make an effort to listen and understand each others’ needs and wants. The most powerful thing you can do to keep a marriage strong is form a partnership, a team, where both parties feel respected, cared about and needed. If you really want to restore the marriage, begin not by complaining, but by seeking to understand your partner. “Once the connection is there, you can begin to work out the issues,” Tessina says.