Clients who come to couples counseling saying “My sexless marriage is killing me” feel deeply frustrated, stuck, and longing to find a resolution for this impasse. A sexless marriage is usually a symptom of an emotional disconnect. But it can also be caused by physical limitations, past trauma, cultural or religious influences, to name a few.
Whatever the cause, when one partner longs for intimacy while the other partner lacks interest, couples counseling is a good next step. Therapy can help identify the root cause that led to the emotional disconnect between spouses and can guide the couple in repairing this breakdown.
An experienced couples therapist should be able to identify the right path forward and equip the couple with effective communication skills. Here are some of the ways therapy can help revive a sexless marriage.
Identify The Reason Behind The Emotional Disconnect
The first step in getting your sex life, and your marriage, back on track is to identify the reasons behind the emotional disconnect. At an earlier point in your relationship, your emotional bond was strong. Something caused it to erode over time.
It could be something as complex as infidelity or trauma or as common as neglecting your relationship while tending to other priorities like kids and careers. The root cause may not be obvious or easy to identify. A well-trained therapist will help identify the reasons for the disconnect which stalled sexual intimacy between you and your partner.
Explore Peak Experiences
When I work with couples stuck in a sexless marriage, I explore what they need to feel sexually attractive. Part of this process is to look back in time to explore the circumstances in which the couple’s physical connection was at its peak. Understanding a couple’s peak sexual experiences will help pinpoint the once-present spark. Afterall, it did work at least once for both of you.
By identifying the circumstances which once ignited desire, the couple will consider ways to reclaim their passion for one another. It may not be possible to recreate peak sexual experiences exactly, but it is possible to make some modifications and create a similar space for physical connection.
Facilitate A Open Discussion About Sexual Wants And Needs
In order to revive a sexless marriage, each partner needs to be able to speak honestly about their sexual wants and needs. It’s equally important to discuss changing physical needs or problems. It may feel uncomfortable to talk about fluctuating hormones, menopause, and erectile dysfunction. These are delicate topics but should be discussed openly, and without shame.
Some couples find these conversations awkward and uncomfortable or avoid the topic altogether for a variety of reasons. A therapist will help guide the couple through sensitive subjects without judgment or blame. This will allow the couple to get on the same page about their desires and expectations for a mutually fulfilling sex life.
Redefine Sex If Necessary
In most long-term relationships, sexual desire will fluctuate over time. This is perfectly normal and expected. As our bodies age and change, 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.
Hugging, kissing, holding hands, and touching of any kind all count when it comes to intimate contact. Recognizing the importance of making time for sex is the first step forward. Then, you and your partner can define (or redefine) what sex looks like at different stages of your marriage. This is an often overlooked practice between couples but should be part of regular maintenance in long-term relationships.
Accept Help When Needed
You and your partner are most likely not experts in sex therapy and relationships. That’s okay, and it’s important to recognize. Just like calling a contractor for your home, you will save a lot of future angst if you hire the right professional.
The good news is that while a therapist has to be an expert in every relationship, you only have to be an expert in yours.
The most effective therapy for partners in a sexless marriage is couple-centered and solution-focused. In my experience, the majority of couples have solvable problems which just require a little extra support. A path forward should include ways to rebuild emotional and physical connections as well as the necessary communication skills to help you and your partner along the way. 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 potential resolutions.
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 more.