The issues of sexual desire, unmet erotic needs, mismatched libidos, and the ravages of time in a long-term relationship or marriage are among the most common rants of the sex unhappy marriage. One thing is for sure, the sex unhappy marriage is a painful place to hang out. Couples can become sex unhappy for so many reasons. The most common reason? The lack of sex is number one. And there are so many causes for that. We have mismatched time clocks, work pressures, kids, or our desire for kids, our sexual tastes can change over time including what turns us on, and married sex can fall into a boring routine. One can know exactly what will happen every time they have sex.
We talk a lot about sex, but rarely with the person that we are having sex with. Having the sex talk, especially if you are unhappy, is probably the most vulnerable conversation a couple can have. Often, we feel shut down around the sex conversation because we worry that our partner won’t accept our true desires, or worse, that they will judge us. It requires an ability to be vulnerable with your partner, and no book that can teach you how to do that.
Sex sells, they say, and many are guilty of finding headlines such as “How to keep the sex alive in your marriage” irresistible. They reminisce on these articles, never quite trusting their advice, but still discussing them with their partners ad infinitum.
The truth about sex is that, while there are certainly those legendary couples who have sex five times a week every week, most people in long-term relationships experience periods where they just don’t have sex all that often. Sex in marriage fluctuates. There is, however, one important point to note: While the quantity of sex might dip, the quality of sex should increase. Given this, what do you do if you find yourself in a sexless marriage or sexless relationship, one where months go by without any release? Sexless marriages, though quite common, are more often than not a sign of deeper relationship issues like a lack of emotional intimacy, issues of resentment, experiencing the “roommate phase,” or becoming bored. Whatever the issue, it shouldn’t be ignored. Ignoring these issues might lead to dramas in the marriage, one partner, who feels denied, might start getting easily irritated by the other partner.
But is sex really about love, about connecting with your partner in some mysterious, profound way? No, I don’t think it is. I think the 20th century made the whole story up, and we bought it because it suited us. We went from sex-shame to sex-worship in a few heady years. Nowadays, for people who have been married for a long time, sex is the minefield that separates them. Everyone feels they ought to be having it, ought to be enjoying it, that it ought to be an expression of their love. They are too tired for groundbreaking sex, but they hunger for affection. Human beings crave to hold and be held, but we stay on our side of the bed in case a sexual performance is demanded. It’s all a very sad and sorry story.
How did we get here? Where did we go wrong? Why are so many relationships just so fragile?
Love and erotic love are two very different emotions – I would argue they are almost contrary. Love proper is to do with the other person: it is about the care, respect, and understanding of that human other. Love like this grows, it cannot help it. The more of yourself you invest in another person, the more you receive. You become as one: their pain is your pain, their joy, yours too. Erotic love, on the other hand, is about wanting something. Something you really desire to experience.
More often than not, sex in marriage is misused. Case in point some use sex as a weapon, a partner may dangle the promise of sex in front of their spouse to win an argument, give them help with household chores, or to get money. Withholding sex is also another way to dramatically manipulate a spouse to get your way. This is a terrible, unhealthy idea that leads to intimacy issues and other marital problems. Using sex as a weapon is an overly dramatic way to control your spouse. It does not help solve marital issues, it depreciates the act of sex, and may lead to more fights in the future.
Couples and especially those who are already married should…nay…need to find a solution, and a lasting one for the stalemate in their sex life. This will help them feel contented with their marriages and avoid the drama that comes with a sexless marriage, sex unhappy.