Marriage without sex? Really?
Not a healthy circumstance, in my opinion. Let’s better understand what sex really represents in a long term relationship. “It’s not about what you do, it’s about where you go”, states erotic expert Esther Perel. Going to this place, the state of mind that the sexual moment takes you to, is an act of trust, hope, and intimacy. Not going to this place is a blockade. “I will not let you there” is the message. Usually underpinned by resentment, anger, fear, or shame, it leads to the pattern of demise. Allowing your partner to take you to this zone is an act of surrendering. From your place of righteousness, morality, responsibility, and reason. With the one person in the world you trust to be there with. So if this is not a place your partner is willing to go, it is time to examine why.
Sex solidifies your bond
Let’s think in terms of nurturance. Would you buy a plant and then not water it? Sex produces a chemical reaction in the brain that solidifies your bond. It is a shared experience of vulnerability and acceptance. We need to know, over and over, that we are accepted as is. Vital component of an enduring relationship. Think of it as deposits in the bank account. Renowned couples therapist John Gottman uses this wonderful metaphor to emphasize the contributions we need to make into the relationship bank. Sex is a valuable investment!
If this is not happening, if one or both of you has “signed off” on this part of the contract (yes, it’s in the contract), it is withholding. It is saying “Keep Out” . Indicating “I’m not feeling good in this relationship”. Knowing whether your partner is in a good place or not is a responsibility in relationship. Surely it’s somewhere in the vows…
Having said all this, the following is necessary and probably long overdue
1. Know that it is not ok. Ditch the rationalizations. Get on board that this is not acceptable.
2. Assess if your partner is willing to be on board. You cannot do this alone! Both of you must be willing and able to have the brave, honest conversation. Without accusation, blame, defense. Couples counseling can guide you through this process.
3. Prioritize sex. Allocate time and thought to flirting, fantasizing, planning, sending messages to one another. Kind of like it was in the beginning, remember?
4. Lifestyle changes. Stop satiating. Has drinking, overeating, shopping, etc. replaced the appetite you used to have for sex? Time to look and feel healthy. Get rolling on a program to feel better and sexy. You owe this to yourself and to your partner.
5. Distraction reduction. Of electronic devices and social media. While we are connecting better in the world, we are disconnecting at home! Spend time talking, touching, connecting real-time.
A word about sexuality: hormones
We must assess physiological well-being first and foremost. Hormones are directly responsible for sex drive, for all ages and genders. It’s a blood test away. We can now combat the change of life; it’s no longer a death sentence! And by the way, andropause is as real for men as menopause is for women. We can restore the declining hormone levels with some healthy stuff now. If impotence is a factor, this is 2016 and there are lots of options to learn about.
Of course we need to rule out the obvious: Infidelity, homosexuality? If your partner is dismissive or defensive of this subject, is there a secret here? I am privy to many surprising secrets that reside in relationships, and amazed how people endure living just on the edge of this denial. Not a peaceful way to live. Professional help is mandatory here…
As infidelity statistics continue to rise, we must protect our intimate relationship – by keeping it intimate! Don’t underestimate your partner’s need to have her needs met. I have witnessed many a surprised spouse receiving a wake up call. While none of this is easy, the rewards are tenfold. Sexuality is congruent with happiness, as many studies have revealed. When we disregard our sexuality, we lose vitality, and compromise our spirit. Get help and get on board!