No Sex After Marriage – How to Improve Your Love Life

no-sex-after-marriageMy husband and I have been married for almost 8 years. We’re both in our early thirties, have busy careers, work out regularly, and enjoy a number of activities.

 At the beginning of our relationship we were very sexually active. But, after the first few years, it went from once a month to once every few months. The other day, I realized that it’s been more than an entire year since we last had sex, and this fact both saddens and worries me.

 I’ve tried everything I could think of—working out more, taking extra effort with my hair and makeup, dressing and behaving more provocatively. Whenever I try to snuggle up to him in bed, he says he’s tired, has a lot on his mind, or that he’s preoccupied with work.

 Of course, I hear, “You’re fat and ugly, and I don’t love you anymore…and I’m having an affair!”

I’m miserable, but I’m terrified to ask him about it. I guess I’m afraid that, whatever his reasons, it spells the end of our relationship—but not knowing is wearing me down and making me unable to be free in other aspects of the relationship. What do I do?

 -Amy, Chicago, IL

Dan’s Perspective: 

Amy, thank you for being so honest about your situation. I’m fairly certain, though, that you are not alone.

Many people in long-term relationships run into obstacles when it comes to maintaining a healthy, mutually-fulfilling sex life. Just like you, couples everywhere are confused and divided. However, the problem has nothing whatsoever to do with sex. The problem is communication—or a lack thereof.

However, before you can take action, your fear must be confronted. You fight opening a dialogue with your husband about this because you are convinced that this will solidify whatever problem you might be having and end the relationship.

Still, I hear very little about what you need, want or get out of the relationship—just that you are afraid of losing it. The fact that you’re miserable and still stuffing your feelings shows that you are putting others’ feelings before your own.

Even if your fears were to be completely founded, and the relationship did end, what would that say aboutyou? What would it say about him, or the relationship? It’s a good idea to use a journal when tackling these big questions.

You can journal in a spiral notebook, a lockable diary or just on some loose paper. Nobody will read this, so be sure to go with your first gut reactions rather than allowing yourself to intellectualize and explain away your feelings. Get ready with a pen or pencil. Then ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if I talk to my husband about our sex life?”

Perhaps your answer would be that he would leave. So then, honestly ask yourself these questions: “What would it say about me if he did leave?” “What would it say about him?” “What would it say about our relationship?” “What would it say about my future/security?”

Exploring the emotions hiding behind this type of worst-case scenario can actually allow you to breathe a sigh of relief. These are the big, scary,blocking feelings keeping you immobilized.

While journaling, you may uncover deeper feelings of sadness—or rage—and it’s a good idea to confront these emotions in advance. This way, it’ll be much easier for you to express yourself calmly and honestly and for both of you to find a resolution.

It could be that your husband’s actions have nothing at all to do with you, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask yourself what’s really driving that fear.

Nan’s Perspective:

Everyone lets fear shut them down on occasion. Some of us live in so much fear of expressing ourselves (or hearing the other person’s point of view) that we almost never communicate openly and honestly.

What I’ve found, though, is that expressing our feelings in an atmosphere of honesty instead of bottling them up and acting out passive-aggressively is far more productive—and almost always a big relief.

When communicating with your partner, it’s important not to go in with a side or the objective of winning. This often leads to blaming or shaming your partner, which will, in turn, shut him down.

Simply approach your husband and keep the focus on your feelings. “We haven’t had sex in a year, and I feel ____________.” You might feel hurt, upset, afraid, unloved, or unappreciated. In fact, there are about a million emotions you may feel, from anger to contentment—although clearly, in this case, it’s not contentment. Pick one or a few that fit you, but try to pick the major ones. A laundry list of emotions will blur the issue.

Once you’ve shared your feelings in this simple way, ask your husband, “How do you feel about our not having sex?” Allow him to finish sharing his feelings uninterrupted. Once he’s done, don’t argue, but if you feel a misunderstanding coming on, ask for clarification. Your response may depend on what he says. Clearly, if he says, “I’m having an affair,” you’re going to respond differently than if he simply says, “I’m afraid I’m not good enough in bed.”

After he’s responded and you’ve clarified his feelings so that there are no misunderstandings, you can have a discussion about it. These are really just ways to get the ball rolling, and once you’ve got a calm, open line of communication, things rarely turn ugly.

Just go in with an open-minded attitude, willing to at least hear—even if you don’t like—everything your husband has to say. If he won’t communicate about it, ask if he would consider revisiting the issue in a day or so, giving him time to think about his own feelings and come to the discussion prepared. Above all, remember that communication is a two-way street, so listen as much as you talk, and maintain a level of respect so that communication doesn’t turn into a fight.

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