Are you in a sexless marriage?
Or do you have infrequent sex (a few times a year)?
Or do you have sex often, but it feels more robotic, routine and mundane?
Restoring sexual intimacy within marriage begins with a holistic understanding of what a whole, sacred, healthy and successful relationship looks like.
Sex can be a powerful force, a deeply bonding experience, and a sacred sharing of bodies, minds and spirits. It is, in great part, the glue that holds a beautiful connection and union between husband and wife. Please don’t misunderstand me… I’m not coming from a superficial place in saving that sex holds a relationship together - its the bond that is the glue and sex is a great avenue to creating that bond - it’s the bond that is created from experiencing healthy, respectful, and loving sex together. Sex is bonding and addicting (not because it feels good) - but it’s addicting because of the chemicals released in the brain during sex: endorphins (pain-reducing and pleasure enhancing), dopamine (provides a euphoric feeling), oxytocin (the ‘love hormone”, bonding).
Sexual problems are a primary cause of broken marriages so let's review how to restore sexual intimacy.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
Intimacy requires effort + struggling is normal.
Neither partner should expect their spouse to automatically know what the other wants and needs (sexually, communication, connection outside sexual intimacy).
In troubled marriages, where intimacy has faded or disappeared, there is usually a deprived partner (one who longs for sexual intimacy more than the other) and the deprived partner, after a long time of rejection, blames their partner for this disconnect and resentment start building.
Condemning your partner by telling them they are sexually selfish or that something must be wrong with them (psychologically, physically or emotionally) will make the situation worse.
Ignoring the problem or denying that there is a problem creates further damage.
There can be a lot of pressure, embarrassment and intimidation surrounding sexual intimacy - especially for lack of orgasm or easy arousal. (((easier to not have sex than deal with frustration, guilt, embarrassment or shame)))
Stress affects every area of life, including sexual intimacy, so remember… work stress, family stress, negative thoughts or emotions, depression and anxiety - these all cause physical tension in the body and make ‘getting in the mood’ rather difficult for many.
Women are like a pot of water - it takes awhile to reach the boiling point. But men are turned on like the strike of a match.
The human brain is wired to connect with others for emotional attachment - this occurs during sex.
WHAT TO NOT DO:
Before we get to what TO do, let’s talk about what NOT to do because these things may be preventing you from restoring intimacy in your marriage:
Stop Complaining - in marriage, both spouses like and need to express themselves - but HOW you express yourself is of crucial importance. Complaining creates defensiveness, resentment, frustration, bitterness, and can lead to contempt and even hatred. In other words - you end up NOT wanting to be sexually intimate with your partner if you’re on the receiving end of complaints - and that’s even if the complaints have nothing to do with you. It’s not fun to be around a person who constantly complains about anything. Intimacy is allergic to complaints.
Stop Criticizing - most humans don’t enjoy receiving criticism on a regular basis. How would YOU like to be constantly criticized? Or would you like to be sexually intimate after being criticized? It’s like, “Babe - you are so lazy all the time - why can’t you keep up with the laundry (or yard work) or cleaning (or mowing)? Now, want to have sex?” We all have imperfections - you don’t need to point out your spouses vices, mistakes and flaws - chances are, they already know them. Once a couple gets to the point where they experience criticism, complaints and aggression on a regular basis in those areas, they have an 80% chance of divorce within a few years.
Stop Controlling - no one likes to be controlled and when you’re constantly harping on the same subjects, complaining or criticizing - your partner will feel as if you are trying to control them. No one is this position wants to makes themselves vulnerable through sexual intimacy.
Stop Trying to Force Sexual Intimacy - stop talking about the fact that you don’t make time for sex or that sex isn’t as great as it should be. Stop trying to force a sexual relationship if you are - this will make your partner feel pressure, intimidated, and then you wonder why they can’t relax enough to experience a beautiful sexual encounter.
WHAT TO DO:
Beginning the process of restoring sexual intimacy within marriage involves a 9 step process:
(#1) Admit There is a Problem.
Discussing your distance and a mutual desire to restore intimacy is an important first step.
Discuss what specifically has changed (including feelings) and decide to recreate the bond you shared when first married.
Commit to creating what you want - you have to create the intimacy you want. Shift from wanting something to doing something.
(#2) Restore Emotional Intimacy:
The first and most important task is to restore emotional intimacy - you do this by:
creating a heartfelt connection OUTSIDE the bedroom
increasing the quantity and quality of time you spend together
increasing nonsexual physical intimacy (hand holding, kissing, cuddling, touching) is especially important. To give and receive nonsexual physical intimacy with no further expectations for sex at the time, can nurture both partners and go a long way toward restoring trust and intimacy. Sometimes giving your partner space, some alone time, may be most helpful
courting each other again / go on dates
(#3) Completely Forgive Past Transgressions.
This may be difficult without professional help if you’ve suffered any extreme hurt - so if you try this on your own, please be very careful. If you do try this on your own, put yourselves through a forgiveness exercise to completely forgive each other for all past transgressions. I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it’s crucial for moving forward. I conduct a few exercises in my marriage program to help my couples not only forgive each other, but all people in their lives that have hurt them. This process takes about 2 weeks but is profound and necessary to move on to step 3.
Forgiveness is crucial for understanding each other and maintaining close connection.
(#4.) Improve Communication Quality:
Talk More: Plan 2 or 3 times a week where you can give each other a solid 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted time to talk about important matters, topics of interest, and things that are meaningful to you both. If it’s awkward in the beginning, try communication exercises, a couple’s retreat (I‘m hosting one in October), or a fun activity you both enjoy.
Couples spend, on average, twenty minutes a week in conversation (that includes household/family scheduling and planning, small chit-chat, and other mundane topics). Friendship is the foundation necessary to hold a marriage together in difficult times and these talks will foster a deeper and closer friendship.
Foster intimate conversation. Talking about things that have happened, about other people or what you plan to do tomorrow or this weekend are all superficial or surface level communications. Instead, talk about your feelings, thoughts, goals, beliefs, desires - this fosters intimacy.
When you must have difficult conversations, use specific words to depict exactly how you feel. Instead of saying, “This is getting old” or “I’m getting tired of this” or “I can’t take much more of this.”. . .
Use “I” statements, such as “I’m feeling rejected” (or hurt, unloved, pressured, or another emotion) so your spouse can better understand where you are coming from. Understanding each other's perspective, will help foster a deeper, more intimate emotional connection. This also breeds more trust and respect.
Pay attention to non-verbal cues and participate in active listening so you can better understand each other. When a husband and wife understand each other, they both will relax and become a little more vulnerable and will feel a greater connection. Partners don’t connect when they don’t feel understood and aligned.
(#5.) Develop a Soul Connection
(#6.) Create Variety in your life
Have date nights alone and with other couples.
Try new hobbies.
The list is endless.
(#7.) Learn and Practice the 5 Love Languages
I’m not going to go into this since I’ve talked and written so much about the Love Languages. If you’re interested in learning more, click HERE.
But you definitely want to learn each other’s love languages, do the exercises in my blog article, and serve each other in those ways.
(#8.) Realign Your Priorities
Put your spouse first, just like you did when you were first married. Remember when you were first married? You would do ANYthing for each other. You’d overlook just about anything, you’d serve each other in just about any way, you thought everything was cute. Do this and you’ll instantly see hope, excitement, relief, and joy (if you are sincere). Remember - if you contribute nothing, you get nothing.
(#9.) LAST STEP: Have Sex!!!
Be patient with each other.
Maintain open communication.
Have a ‘bridge to desire’… examples: cuddling/spooning on the sofa, taking a shower together, massage).
Schedule intimate sexy time because planned sex is better than no sex! — plan if it isn’t happening spontaneously BUT… only after you’ve experienced forgiveness, reestablished connection and developed a healthy communication.
There are medical conditions that make sexual intimacy difficult (erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness, for example, can be hard and embarrassing to talk about) or even non-existent (paralysis). There are a plethora of ways to maintain intimate connection that do not involve sex, and even people who have frequent sex should maintain these non-sexual forms of intimacy. If you find yourself in the situation and need guidance, please reach out.
If any of these steps I’ve outlined today feel too risky to conduct on your own, please reach out to me for help. I go in-depth with all of these steps and more in my marriage program and would love to guide you to restoring your intimacy.
*By restoring emotional closeness and non-sexual intimacy, couples will notice a natural improvement in their sex life.*
To learn more about how to improve your marriage, please watch this free 45 minute Marriage Masterclass: click HERE.
If you need help, set up an appointment with us for a free consultation. Click HERE to book your consultation.