The “nonexistent” sex life of a man with his wife of many years “destroys” the relationship and he wants to bring back the spark.
Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column that solves all your romantic problems, without limits. This week, our live-in sex therapist Isiah McKimmie hears from a reader whose sex life struggles within a committed relationship.
ASK: I have been married to my wife for many years and when we first got together the sex was okay, but not great. Now it’s non-existent and it’s killing me. We can’t talk about it because she changes the subject or it ends in an argument. She’s going through menopause, so her hormones are out of control and she’s also stressed from her job. What can I do to revive our sex life?
ANSWERS: I hear how frustrating and upsetting this is for you. Wanting to have a pleasant sex life with your wife is a reasonable desire.
Sounds like your wife has a lot going on right now. While the factors you mentioned do affect desire, I think there’s a lot more to it than this.
Mismatched libidos and less than arousing sex lives are some of the most common issues I support couples with in therapy. I’ve supported pairs from 20 to 60 with this. It will take some effort from both of you, but it is possible to rekindle your intimacy and have the best sex of your life – no matter your age.
The fact that you’re currently having trouble talking about sex without it turning into an argument tells me that there are other issues besides sex that we need to look at.
Experience tells me that your overall emotional connection may need to be strengthened and that you struggle with communication about difficult topics.
How To Revive Your Sex Life
To revive your sex life, you need to broaden your view of what’s going on. Your sex life is not separate from the rest of your relationship.
There are some key areas that I guide couples through to support them in making change and creating a relationship that they both feel good about.
1. Build your connection
Connection is the foundation of your relationship. Research has shown that couples who have long-lasting passionate relationships:
• Stay good friends
• Say ‘I love you’ every day
• Go on fixed dates
• Hug every day
The quality of your connection has a direct impact on your ability to communicate with each other and the passion you experience in your relationship.
2. Improve your communication
Most couples who seek my support because of a lack of sexual desire or a mismatched libido struggle to talk about the issue together, so you’re not alone.
Couples are often stuck in a cycle of attacks and withdrawals, making effective communication impossible. They continue to hurt each other through their attempts to communicate and grow apart, without feeling understood by each other.
Being able to talk about this topic and understand how each other thinks about it is essential for moving forward together. Learning to communicate harmoniously and effectively with each other takes time and practice.
3. Breathe new life into your sex life as a team
By building a strong foundation of connection and good communication, you can tackle the problem of sexual intimacy as a team.
Research has shown that couples who have passionate sex for long periods of time also:
• Hug every day
• Kiss passionately for no reason
• Make sex a priority
• Preserve Sexual Variation
But this is all difficult (and ineffective) when you’re arguing with each other or feeling disconnected. That is why we first build a strong foundation.
4. Remove ‘Sexual Brakes’ and increase ‘Accelerators’
A convenient way to think about sex drive is like a car. It has brakes and an accelerator. To get it moving, not only can you put your foot on the accelerator, you also have to remove the brakes.
Everyone’s brakes and accelerator are a little different, so it’s important that you and your wife can talk about this harmoniously. This will help you discover how to remove some of the brakes she may be experiencing and how to add accelerators that work for her.
It can be hard to go it alone on emotional topics like sex. If you are able to do so, I recommend that you contact a relationship counselor and sex therapist who can provide you with tools and advice to support you.
Isiah McKimmie is a relationship therapist, sexologist, sexologist and teacher. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her Instagram for more advice on relationships, sex and intimacy.
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