If you search the web for how to fix a sexless marriage, there are going to be a lot of suggestions out there, some which never in your wildest dreams would you have ever imagined. There are those that suggest that monogamy is just too boring and that humans were designed for procreation and therefore we “should” add other things (or people) to the mix! (See here for a popular blog post that’s been circulating: http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/01/07/monogamy-is-unnatural/)
Does help to fix a sexless marriage include exploring other alternative options outside of the traditional confines of monogamy?
We’ll spare you the rest of the details as we believe any external outlets that are now being recommended to fix a sexless marriage and strengthen intimacy, actually harm the marriage more than help it. That’s due to the couple being drawn further away from each other and sometimes becoming “reliant” on those other external outlets.
Can a traditional monogamous marriage experience passion and sustain a healthy intimate life? There are those who think not. And we disagree.
It makes sense that due to reasons like exhaustion, busyness, the kids, work, our intimate life is often the first thing to go. We also propose that if you’re disconnected from your spouse in other ways, you’re going to turn away from being intimate and leave this chapter of your life neglected. On top of that, if you’re a woman and you experience pain from being intimate with your spouse, it will get even more complicated and traumatic. Additionally, for men who are married to women who do have a sexual dysfunction, there is something called secondary sexual dysfunction. Secondary sexual dysfunction occurs when one person has a “primary” sexual dysfunction and then because the one has a problem, the other one develops a sexual dysfunction in response to the first one. (Also see our article on when your wife doesn’t want intimacy)
You cannot ignore your sex life and live in a sexless marriage, happily. We will go further to suggest that the state of the sexual health of your marriage is a barometer for the overall state of the health of your marriage. So if you don’t currently enjoy a healthy sex life, chances are that your marriage could be much better. In fact, the sex therapist that we collaborate with in our marriage counseling practice says, “When sex is great, it’s only 20% of the relationship. When sex is bad, it’s more like 80% of the relationship.” Basically, when sex is bad it has very detrimental effects to the relationship, but if it’s good, it doesn’t feel like it is the overall barometer of the relationship.
Here’s what you can do now to improve your intimate life and fix a sexless marriage:
1. Use the Imago Dialogue that we teach, to communicate with your spouse, about what you want in your intimate life together. Why the Imago Dialogue? Because intimacy is such a sensitive issue for couples, it’s really important that each of you as individuals feels safe in your conversation with each other. The Imago Dialogue, with it’s “scripted” model of communicating is the perfect way to create safety to discuss such a sensitive topic.
How would that work? You would set up an appointment with your spouse to dialogue about your intimate life. When it’s time for the appointment, you could light candles, clear the clutter from your bedroom, put on comfortable clothing and sit across from each other on your bed, looking face to face into each other’s eyes. (Nelson) Remember, the purpose of this is to connect, not to fight or threaten or blame, even if you haven’t actually ever discussed your intimate life, or whatever discussions you’ve had about your intimate life have been full of negativity. If you need help with this exercise, you’ll want to get our relationship self help book.
You may be pleasantly surprised to learn more about what your spouse desires and what would make him/her feel good. That’s the beauty of the Imago dialogue and what can come out of that connected discussion.
2. It’s also really helpful to talk about some of beliefs that you have about monogamy. When we work with couples we help them draft what is called a “Relationship Vision” which discusses the beliefs that you as an individual have about yourself, your relationship, and your vision for it’s future, getting down to the nitty gritty details all the way from what you are used to from your childhood home to how you would like to spend retirement together, for instance.
It’s helpful to craft a relationship vision for your intimate life as well. We all get married and we take vows at our wedding, and we assume that we are going to be faithful towards each other. What happens though when one person has different beliefs about being faithful than you do? Is watching pornography ok or not ok? Is it ok to go to a particular kind of club? One person may think it is absolutely ok and means nothing, and to the other it may feel like being cheated on. It’s helpful to talk and communicate with each other about your partner’s beliefs about being faithful because when our intimate lives get boring, and life happens, eyes may start to wander – and that’s when the talk about those varied beliefs count. (Nelson)
The only steadfast rule here is to communicate. Communicate safely with your spouse and you will be well on the road to sexual health and fixing that sexless marriage.
If you want to address your sexless marriage by looking at it’s root cause and work together with your spouse in a safe and comfortable way- one that will reawaken passion and love quickly, take a look at our 2 Day Marriage Restoration Retreat. It’s the quickest and most effective way to make a stale marriage joyful again!
Be in touch,
Shlomo and Rivka Slatkin