My husband and I hardly have sex any more -- just once every few months. He works long hours and says he's too tired and that sex isn't the most important thing in a marriage anyway. Is something else really going on?
You are wondering what's happening in your marriage. It's very disconcerting when you are not clear about what's going on. Then the doubt comes and makes you create all kinds of scenarios in your head, and possibly in your heart. It's well known that sex is one of the most common areas that couples disagree on, sooner or later. Different people have different expectations, needs, desires and ways of experiencing sex in a marriage, especially after being in a relationship for a while. What matters is that you make the time and space to talk with your husband about your concerns. In addition, it is crucial that you listen openly to his perspective. This means, not just his words but also his behavior and tone while discussing this topic.
There may be a variety of reasons why you are not having sex more often. These may vary from physical to emotional or even spiritual reasons. Sex in a long-term committed relationship is not limited to intercourse. It also includes many other aspects of your relationship. It involves the way you look at each other and treat each other throughout the day. In reality, what most of us need in a relationship is the ability to be “intimate with each other”. Intimacy is not limited to the physical aspect of having intercourse. It also involves the ability to be emotionally open to each other and feel safe. Some people describe intimacy as “into-me-see”. Therefore, to be intimate, we need to risk and trust. “Risk” to open myself to you and become vulnerable. “Trust” that you will accept me and embrace me for who I am. When those elements are present, you have a solid foundation. This foundation provides you with great fulfillment and the ability to tackle any difficulty that may come your way.
The important issue then is, how is your relationship with your husband in other areas? Are you able to experience intimacy with each other? Do you have the opportunity to spend time together without anybody else (especially the children) on a regular basis to strengthen your connection? Lack of sex could be just one symptom that your connection needs more attention. Some specific things that could be helpful to strengthen your relationship are:
- Set aside sometime, if possible daily, to check with each other about how things are going for each of you.
- Listen to each other and be supportive. Life can bring many challenges. The more you can rely on each other to face these challenges, the easier it gets, and the closer you feel. If one of you is experiencing some dissatisfaction, don’t take it personally. It’s most likely something that this person needs to find for him or herself. Look at it as an opportunity to grow.
- Build each other up in love. Constantly look for things you like or admire in your spouse and let him know that.
- Treat yourself and each other with respect and care. We all are very vulnerable, especially when we are going through stressful times. The more we take care of ourselves, the more we have to offer in a relationship.
- Practice forgiveness. In a relationship, we will hurt each other many times. It is important that we don’t hold on to resentments and let that tear us apart. At the same time, it’s crucial that we show awareness, remorse and a desire to change our hurtful behavior.
- Go on dates regularly, just how you used to do before you got married.
- Have fun together!
- Find a spiritual connection that can support your relationship. This is helpful when things are good, and crucial when the two of you are hurting.
- If you try all of these and things don’t improve, you may need to get help from a reliable and supportive outside source.
It’s a very good sign that you want more out of your marriage. You both deserve the best. Now it’s in your hands to make it happen.
- Ana Morante, LMFT, CFLE