As a single matured woman, I am wont to look enviously at married couples especially on cold wet nights and wonder what must be going on behind closed doors. I imagine how sweaty and steamy their love making is and whether they engage in kinky styles.
Alas, I have discovered in talking to a lot of women that I may have read too many romance novels in my youth or that my being single has made me look back at my married days and sex with rose coloured lenses. I have discovered that the reality for most women my age and even younger is that sex is not happening as frequently as it ought to.
I have heard of couples that sleep on the same bed for weeks, months and even years without any intimacy between them, some of them especially the men fulfil their desires outside the relationship whilst the women either take on lovers or turn to sex toys in a bid to satisfy their urges. I am increasingly reading about partners suddenly wanting to try out styles that the other partner finds intrusive and offensive and berating and punishing them for their refusal by refusing to sleep with them.
Like everything in life, our sexual experiences go through changes throughout the life of a relationship. The first months or even years are always filled with sexual activity as couples seek to satisfy each other and fulfill their sexual desires. It’s the season of quickies, spontaneity and adventure but as the kids begin to come the pace slows down. With the building of a career, child rearing, the pressure of finances, some couples do not even remember their sexual lives and leave it to chance. For some, especially those who do not have children and are on a fertility course, sex loses its joy and becomes a chore, a scheduling and fulfilling of a doctor’s orders.
In the middle years of the relationship, when the children are able to take care of themselves, and careers are more stable, some couples seemingly find their niche in the scheme of things. Many women become increasingly aware of their repressed sexual desires which force their way to their consciousness demanding its right to be heard and satisfied. It is however at this period that a lot of women realize that they may have sexual problems which may having been building up from the early years.
The lack of sex in a marriage might be as a result of several factors including sickness/ health challenges, infidelity, financial pressure, sexual incompatibility, fear, abuse, mismatched libido, menopause, sexual disorientation and emotional disconnect. It is true that marriages may go through a phase in which sex is not desirable but the experts say that when a couple don’t have sex in a month or two despite sleeping in the same bed there is a problem.
Whatever the reasons, the effects of staying in a sexless marriage is deep and long lasting, often having impact, especially on the mental health of the individuals involved because it speaks of rejection, shame and embarrassment. It makes some people feel they are not good enough and there can also be guilt on the part of the partner that is unable to satisfy the other. It is all the more devastating when one partner taunts the other for their inability to sexually satisfy them or when one partner has to beg for sex or discovers that their partner has a different sexual orientation and the marriage is just a cover.
If you are in a sexless marriage whether by choice or not, I advice that you confront the elephant in the room. On the one hand, it is not uncommon in that many couples have gone and are going through the same thing. On the other hand it is uncommon because the body craves intimacy and sex and understanding that the lack of sex in a marriage is not normal, may help us look for solutions.
Communicate your feelings. This is very important as it gives your partner a better understanding of your plight and you may discover that the reasons for your sexual inactivity can be easily corrected. Eg someone once confided in me that she doesn’t sleep with her husband because he never takes his bath before getting into bed and it’s a huge turn off for her.
Understand the reasons why sex is or is not important to you. For some of us, lack of sex in a marriage is a deal breaker, it cannot be overlooked and ignored whilst some of us really do not care much for sex and are okay with the occasional sexual activity. It will do us well to understand that as with personality traits most couples have mismatched libidos and it is normal for one person to want sex more than the other.
Be adventurous, willing to try out new and different positions and styles bearing in mind that no one has the right to subject you to positions and styles that you are not comfortable with.
If your partner is willing, schedule times alone away from work, children etc to rediscover one another, schedule times for sex and keep to it. It may be somewhat difficult to imagine scheduling something that ought to happen spontaneously but the truth is that after a while of scheduling, sex will hopefully happen spontaneously between the couple as they begin to discover and enjoy one another.
In talking about sexless marriages it will be remiss of me to ignore the fact that in some other marriages, there seems to be more than enough sex going on usually to the consternation of one partner. As it is with differences in personalities, couples also experience differences in libido and the issue of mismatched libidos is also a cause for concern. I have often come across women who complain about their husband’s high sex libido. In such situations the partner with the higher libido is likely to feel ashamed of his/ her high sexual desire and feel rejected when their sexual advances are turned down whilst the partner with the lower libido feels somewhat overwhelmed by the pressure as they tend to think that their partner sees them only as a sex vending machine and guilt for their inability to satisfy their partner.
In situations like this, experts again advice that partners acknowledge their differences, seek to understand and emphatise with one another, respect each other’s concerns and needs especially with regards to consent in sexual styles and positions and try to come to a compromise. I also add that scheduling may work as it gives one partner something to look forward too and respite to the other partner.
The truth is that good sex like a good relationship doesn’t just happen, most people that have an active and satisfying sexual life work at it, most times sexlessness in marriage is as a result of the couple’s laziness in ensuring that their sex life evolves as they go from one stage to another. It is also a pointer to deep seated issues between couples which need to be resolved before intimacy can be restored.