by Paula Susan~Sex is a big subject for a short article, so we’ll do it in two. The message is important.
This being my 32nd year as a Relationship Counselor, helping couples with many aspects of marriage: communication, affairs, trauma; what I hear very little of is “help us keep sex vibrant and alive”. So, let’s talk sex!
In many relationships, sex is often given a back seat to the everyday challenges of daily living – careers, family, home, … In the afterglow of “falling in love,” the heat of sex seems to dampen down and become ho-hum boring or not at all.
When both partners have lost interest, in my opinion there is something basic and critical that is lost with it. That is a sacredness – private and personal – when a couple share the intimacy of each others’ bodies in desire and abandon. When that accompanies a deep and loving connection, the resulting bond helps to keep the partners invested in each other, and to handle the disappointments and challenges of life.
When one partner is sexually unavailable, it is folly for him or her to assume that the other is going to accept the loss of sexual gratification easily. Yet people expect and take for granted that their partner would not cheat. After all, they both took the vow of monogamy. This belief gives some partners the freedom to say, “I’m too tired.” Or, “I just don’t have the desire anymore.” (The old excuse of “I have a headache” has been debunked with research that says sex cures them.)
There are, of course, legitimate reasons such as illness and disability that prevent normal sexual activity. I advise consultation with a professional to discuss viable options – rather than make unilateral decisions that can threaten an already difficult situation.
So, what happens to the couple when one of them has lost his or her desire? If this is due to interpersonal problems, they should seek help and not settle for a mediocre or unhappy marriage. When it is a matter of no interest in sex or dissatisfaction with it and they just say “no”, the partner may become openly angry. Some may be willing to live with their sexual frustration, stop asking, and begin to distance his or herself. Some take it personally: they feel unattractive to their mate. Often these resentments are “cashed in” for an affair, dalliances, or for pornography and self-gratification.
In this culture, easy sex is really easy. The drive itself is a powerful one and if basic needs for release are not met at home, there are lots of people available for the turn-on of new sex, the excitement of the forbidden fruit. Many of these available new partners don’t seem to care whether they themselves are married, or you are. We are living in a hedonistic society.
The answer seems obvious. It is the same as the one from my article on What Kills Love? The very same thing kills sex; the lack of communication. There is a skill to speaking in a way that gets your partner to actually listen and “get” what is important to you. If you want a healthy, long, life-lasting relationship, you need to have those skills and the courage to honor your own needs as well as your partner’s.