“Problems start in the bedroom and travel outward.” -My Mother
Relationships go through ups and downs. Maybe you’ve had a few kids together, time is tight, work seems crazy. You and your partner are both exhausted. Responsibilities, life and problems seem to have gotten in the way.
Sex between you might have started off hot and fizzled over time. It might be that it wasn’t that great (or frequent) to begin with. If you’re struggling with a sexless marriage, it can feel devastating, like a dirty secret that you just don’t know how to fix or handle.
Remember that success happens through our habits, and regular sex is a habit like any other. The situation might not improve overnight, but by making small changes you can bring about really big changes over time.
So how do you relight the spark after it feels it’s gone out? How do you pull a sexless marriage back from the brink?
1. Figure out what you want.
Sometimes we get upset about relationship problems and just think “well I want more.”
What does more sex look like to you?
Are your wants realistic?
Jumping up your bedroom activity from once every six months to once a day might simply not be on your partner’s desire agenda.
Do you feel more like you should want sex than you actually want it?
Start by figuring out what you want before approaching your partner. Decide on a frequency that you would consider a reasonable compromise.
Often people hold a lot of hurt surrounded by anger when it comes to long periods without intimacy. Recognize if you’re feeling these things and work though them by yourself before you have the conversation. You and your spouse are not adversaries.
Unless they’re a jerk, they aren’t likely to be withholding sex to send you a message. Often sex just wanes. Even if they’re saying “no” to you constantly and it feels like they’re to blame, you’ve got to diffuse the hurt before you talk to them.
2. Discuss the situation gently.
Sex is darn important and very worth discussing. However, this is an opportunity to either bring your partner closer or cause them to check out entirely.
You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. If you start pointing fingers, you’ll likely ruin your relationship, so always think “gentle” when it comes to matters involving the bedroom. Don’t be like the guy who recorded his wife’s responses to his advances in a spreadsheet and emailed it to her. Think caring, gentle and sincere.
Sit them down in the light of day and gently ask how they feel like your sex life is going. Listen to their answers without interrupting. Make sure that you just haven’t requested sex, since that will make them feel blamed and defensive. Tell them you want to take time to talk about something that is important to you and make sure there are no distractions.
Ask if there is anything that you can do better or that they want done differently. Create a safe environment and consider their answers carefully. Take a “we’re in this together” approach, since you ARE in it together. If you make the other person feel blamed, you risk having them shut down entirely, so tread carefully.
3. Determine if other relationship issues are to blame for your sexless marriage.
- Are you two handling some deeper-seated issues in your relationship that need to be dealt with before the spark reignites?
- Has couple’s time gone the way of the dinosaurs once your kids arrived?
- Do you expect that your husband should want it all the time and he just doesn’t?
- Do you feel ashamed that you’re the one with the flagging desire?
- Does one person feel hurt that they’re always the initiator?
- Are you struggling with a dual career household and barely enough sleep?
- Is your partner feeling resentful and not cherished?
All of these are potential reasons why your trips to the bedroom could have slowed way down— but are not the only reasons, so listen carefully to what your partner has to say when you discuss it with them.
4. Incorporate changes.
If your partner has given you feedback about why they aren’t interested in sex, try your best to DO IT! Be proactive and try to wipe the slate clean of any underlying negative feelings surrounding sex. If you have stopped initiating sex, softly start again. Try new things and experiment.
Sometimes all women want is to feel appreciated, supported and like you’re truly a partnership. Sometimes all men want is to feel desired. This is vastly oversimplified, but you can suss out a lot of what your partner really wants from your conversation. Then simply follow through and keep trying things.
5. Make a schedule.
Okay, okay I know this doesn’t sound romantic.
However, if you are both busy, scheduling sex is a great way to make sure that you both sex aside time for intimacy. A schedule is the anecdote to “we’re so busy.”
6. Re-designate your bedroom as a sex and sleep only zone.
Associations have powerful effects. Pavlov was no fool. Make a pact to bring your bedroom back to it’s original purpose— sleep and sex. Banish technology and cultivate a relaxing bedtime ritual with your partner.
7. Suggest counseling.
If they don’t really know what the problem is and/or it doesn’t seem that you reach a solution after discussing it with them, move the problem to a therapist’s office.
Find a sex therapist who is specifically trained to work with bedroom issues and suggest that you both go together. Sexual problems are so hard to face, especially with a stranger, but it’s deeply worth it to get past a problem that could potentially spell the end of your relationship.
Are you struggling in the bedroom? Tell me your thoughts about these steps in the comments below.