Overcome a Sexless Marriage

Thursday, September 11, 2014 @ 4:18 PM

The sexless marriage is a real problem among couples in the United States. About 40 million American couples are in a low- or no-sex marriage, reports Tabitha Johnson, a marriage and family therapist at Family Therapy Associates of Jacksonville. While that number is breathtaking (not to mention depressing), it is understandable.

Just think about it. Many women today are taking on the "second shift," which is a reference to the fact that they work full time outside the home and then take on the brunt of the household chores and child rearing, explains Johnson. As a result, they are just too burned out to have sex at the end of the day. Men, of course, are lending a helping hand more than before and have their own pressures at work. Put this all together and it's a recipe for a sexless relationship. Of course, there are those with physical ailments that prevent them from having sex, and they should consult a doctor.

As for the rest of you, who are just concerned that you've forgotten how to have sex because it's been that long, don't fret. For starters, it's like riding a bicycle. More importantly, you can overcome this problem and start having a passionate sex life that meets the needs of both you and your spouse. Here's what Johnson suggests to put the boom boom back in the bedroom:

Have the sex talk.

Like anything else, a good sex life starts with communication. "The marriages that survive are the ones that involve lots of conversation about each partner's needs (both inside and out of the bedroom)," writes Johnson in an e-mail. "Most couples don't communicate well about what they want during foreplay and sex." Quit requiring your partner to read your mind, and start speaking up about what you want and need. Johnson encourages couples with whom she works to create a safe environment, where they both feel comfortable discussing anything - even sex - without worrying about being judged or starting an argument. Once you've begun listening to your partner - and really hearing what he or she has to say - without jumping on the defensive, you can start to have a real conversation about sex or anything else.

Rekindle your friendship.

Bet you thought I was going to write, "rekindle your romance." In a way, that is what I'm writing. But Johnson argues that love goes hand in hand with friendship. About 70 percent of sex, romance, and passion in a relationship is determined by the friendship the couple shares, writes Johnson. "Friendship is the basis of an emotional and physical attraction," she adds. "You have to like the person in order to want to feel romantic or be intimate with him or her." Try to reconnect as friends. Catch up at the dinner table, remember the good times and try to make new ones, and focus on the reasons you came to love this person in the first place.

Beware the signs of sexlessness.

There's the obvious sign. You're already not having sex. Duh! But even before you stop having sex, there are indications that you could wind up needing some nookie. If you and your spouse have opposite shifts at work, you could end up unable to be home at the same time to have sex, warns Johnson. Another factor is if couples quit having fun together. So, if you haven't been on a date with your husband or wife in forever, you might want to rethink that. Finally, if you are feeling pent-up resentment because, say, you are one of those wives doing the "second shift" or you're the husband of one of those women, then you could be headed for a life without sex.

Get out and have fun.

There are a million reasons why you and your spouse should stay home. You need the rest, you need to put out the garbage, you need to tend to your children. But there's one reason to go out that squashes all these other reasons and that is for the two of you to stay together. Having a date night is good for your children. Did you know that? "Kids know when mom and dad are miserable with each other, and it creates fear, insecurity, and often self-blame in children when they are worried about their parents," writes Johnson. Rather than feeling guilty about leaving the little ones at home with a sitter, realize that this is important for them, too. Now, go and have a good time. It's your duty as a married person.


Schedule sex.

This advice has come up a million times on this site and others. And it should come up a million times more. Some people get offended when relationship experts suggest they schedule sex. Isn't making love supposed to be spontaneous and passionate, the kind of experience where the two of you just can't keep your hands off each other? Yes, if you live in a romance novel. Since most of us live in reality, we have to schedule sex - and not feel badly about it. You schedule everything else, so sex shouldn't be any different. "We can't afford to cross our fingers and hope that the stars align so that our relationship and sex life remain intact; we have to do the work to make it a priority," writes Johnson. "Besides, scheduled sex is helpful for the relationship, and particularly for women, as it allows them to mentally focus on having sex that day, and increases anticipation and ultimately the sexual experience."


Dr Tabitha Johnson