Keeping the sexual spark alive isn’t always an easy task for couples who have been married or have been together for some time. Without noticing it, couples can sometimes go on for months without even having any physical intimacy. Lack of sex in a marriage can be due to many reasons, and unique to every couple.
Here are the five most common issues that could be the reason why your or your partner’s libido has taken a nosedive—taking your state of marital bliss with it—and how you can resolve them together.
1. You equate the lack of sex to a loss of desire. “When they don’t have sex often, they immediately think that they don’t desire each other anymore.” It’s easy to blame sex (or the lack thereof), because as Marivic Magno, a senior counselor at the Center for Family Ministry (CEFAM) at the Ateneo de Manila University, explains, the effects of physical intimacy are immediate. Magno says the underlying reasons are often physiological or psychological in nature. Stress at work or home and health issues (like hypertension) can affect libido. Help each other find out what is causing this and get to the root of the problem.
2. You're thinking he doesn’t want to see your belly fat and wrinkled skin. Trust us, a husband in the mood for making love is not thinking or even seeing your insecurities. But maybe the insecurities are coming from you both because of age? “There is still a way to be intimate with each other even if, for example they’re not as healthy as before, or they cannot have sex as often or as long as they used to,” says Magno. A study from the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior actually found that people aged 40 to 80 still enjoyed an active sex life. Physical intimacy doesn’t have to be a romp in the bed. Kissing, always underrated, can bring on the heat, too. You never know where it may lead.
3. You assume he can read your mind. You can’t read his either so you need to talk it out. First, you need to know what you want and discuss that with your partner. Communcation is key. If you encounter initial resistance to discussing sex, Magno suggests that you start slowly by telling your husband, “I love being affectionate with you.” He will probably laugh, become shy or even embarrassed. Don’t let him off the hook! Get physically intimate and maybe if you’re adventurous, tell or show him how you’d like to be touched or held. It may not work the first time, but that shouldn’t discourage you.
4. You're absolutely certain you don't want sex. Lack of sexual desire could primarily be a physical issue, such as having low sex hormones. "Moderate exercise and a healthy diet are vital to maintaining a good sex drive," advises Toronto-based occupational and sex therapist Kelli Young. Also, don't underestimate the power of foreplay. Sometimes, you only realize that you want it, too, when foreplay has been initiated, so don't brush off his advances right away. Lifestyle changes can help address hormonal problems, too.
5. You have unresolved relationship issues. Relationship problems can have a major detrimental influence on one’s sex drive, especially for women, says Young. You and your partner have to address what's bogging down your sex life on the emotional and mental plane, as it would be impossible to focus on your sexual energy when your mind and heart is clouded with negativity. Settle these issues with your partner--seek counseling if you have to--and you just might feel your sexual desire in an upswing.
As relationship expert Dave Willis points out, “It takes more than sex to build a strong marriage. But it’s nearly impossible to build a strong marriage without it.”
Additional text by Rachel Perez. A version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.