A bad sex life can make you feel lonely, unloved, and generally unfulfilled even outside the marriage. Dealing with a sexless marriage is one of the most common issues in couples therapy. Low sexual intimacy can affect any long-term romantic partnership, whether the couple is married or not. It is a given that sexual desire changes over time. There are a number of factors which can affect a couple’s sex life. Most often, a sexless marriage is the result of an emotional disconnect. The root cause can be tricky and frustrating for couples to pinpoint. They know that something is broken and feel stuck. Counseling can help trace the steps which led to a sexless marriage. It can also identify the underlying emotional reasons for the breakdown. The key is to work with an effective couples therapist who will focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on the “blame game”. It is possible to shift from a sexless marriage into renewed emotional and sexual intimacy through therapy and revive your relationship.
The Components Of A Healthy Marriage
Healthy marriage requires the 3 L’s: Love, Like, and Lust. All three need to feed into each other in order for a marriage to work. Each of these components is necessary but they are not always in perfect balance with one another. Sometimes there’s more Love than Like. Other times Lust overwhelms Love. The balance can and will shift, but all 3 L’s need to coexist for a marriage to thrive.
Emotional connection, an essential ingredient for a satisfying marriage, ties this triad of L’s together. If the emotional connection wears thin, it’s that much harder to love, like or lust and the marriage begins to wilt. However, if you make an effort to improve your emotional connection, you are likely to increase your mutual desire. The first step in getting your marriage, and your sex life, back on track is to identify the reasons behind the disconnect.
Sexuality And The Long-Term Relationship
It is normal for the frequency of sex to go up and down over time, and especially so in long-term relationships. Sex may become less frequent but more gratifying. Sex can also become an afterthought or dwindle entirely while partners focus on careers, children or other demands and stresses. This leads to feelings of loneliness or rejection, wedging you and your partner further apart. In couples under 40 years of age, it is typically women who withdraw from sexual activity. In couples over 40, it’s usually men who become avoidant. Regardless of who pulls away, conflicts arise when partners are not on the same page in their desire for intimacy.
Another consideration is how each partner defines sex within the relationship. Frequently couples equate sex with intercourse exclusively. But there is a wide range of other intimate activity which still counts as sex. As bodies age, the types of intimate activities in which you engage with your partner may need some adjustment. This is especially true if intercourse becomes difficult or uncomfortable. It’s important to not discount these intimacies – they are just as valuable in keeping your marriage strong.
It’s equally important to speak with your partner about changing physical needs or problems. It may feel uncomfortable to talk about fluctuating hormones, menopause and erectile dysfunction. Yet it’s important for couples to discuss them frankly, and without shame. You and your partner may be need to redefine what sex looks like at different stages of your marriage. This is an often overlooked practice between couples but should be part of the “maintenance work” in long-term relationships.
How Effective Therapy Can Help A Sexless Marriage
The most effective therapy for partners in a sexless marriage is couple-centered and solution-focused. The majority of couples have solvable problems which just require a little extra support. Effective therapy will help the couple diagnose the problem and then shift gears to focus on the solution. The therapist’s intention is to join in the couple’s pain just long enough to identify the problem but not to get bogged down by it. It’s important to note that not all sexless marriages are fixable. Couples therapy often provides a set of tools to evaluate the causes of the conflict and a path forward.
When I work with couples stuck in a sexless marriage, I explore what they need to feel sexually attractive. I also evaluate whether past sexual trauma is a factor in sexual avoidance. If past sexual trauma left a partner vulnerable, therapy will help build trust and reestablish emotional connection. The goal is to offer opposite experiences which will counter the trauma. In other words, means of sexual connection that feel safe, loving, and mutually pleasurable. Lastly, counseling will focus on a couple’s peak sexual experience to find the once-present spark. By dissecting the circumstances which once ignited desire, the couple will consider ways to reclaim their passion for one another.
It is possible to revive a sexless marriage with the support of therapy and a desire from both partners to make it work. If you and your partner feel you can benefit from couples counseling, use the link below to learn mores