How to start doing it again when she hasn’t ‘done it’ for you in way too long.
We all know the stereotypical image of marriage.
A long-suffering husband desperate for sex and constantly denied by his over-tired, over-burdened, over-sized-by-child-birthing wife.
Yes, there are many marriages in which the wife starts rejecting her husband’s sexual advances.
And there are many we don’t hear about as often in which the husband rejects his wife. We don’t hear about these because men are embarrassed to admit they aren’t turned on by every passing breeze, and women are ashamed to admit that they can slink in wearing all the sexiest lingerie you ever saw, yet their man couldn’t seem to care less — and may even just get annoyed.
Yet a frequent starting point I hear from men considering divorce is the following: “My wife is a good woman. She just doesn’t turn me on anymore.”
Before you jump on the judgy-train to become the new Mayor of Judgy McJudgersonville, yes, marriage should be based on much more than just sex, and the desire to have sex with your wife should be based on more than just physical appearance.
That said, sex is a vitally important component of marriage, and when men say “She just doesn’t turn me on anymore,” they aren’t necessarily saying they no longer find her attractive.
I recently wrote an article for women in response to an advice column in which “after living with her childhood sweetheart for several years, getting married, and giving birth to a now one-year-old son, ‘Mabel’ found herself in a quandary due to the fact that ‘his love-making no longer turns me on as it used to.'”
This need to feel excited by the thought of your life partner, however, is neither a male issue nor a female issue. It is a human issue.
For the men, here are 7 things you can do to restart your own engines and bring her on-board for the — wait for it — ride:
1. Understand that a lack of sex in a marriage is a serious problem.
Marriages don’t simply end because one person is tired or the other one cheats. Desire fades for a reason — physiological or emotional — and affairs happen after a marriage has already begun to suffer when spouses fail to address their core issues head on. If you find yourself not feeling it for your wife anymore, or starting to feel it for someone else, take a good hard look in the mirror at what is really troubling you within your life and your relationship.
2. Stop trying to save her feelings by not speaking up about your own.
Most men see the possibility of hurting their wife or girlfriend’s feelings as the worst thing they could ever do. It is a valiant thought, but one that only backfires. The life-blood of marriage is trust. Making excuses as to why you don’t desire your wife will only confuse her and frustrate you both as she tries to effect change around issues that don’t really exist. Make it your regular practice share the true, mature intimacy of telling each other how you feel. No need to whine or complain. Just talk to her straight.
3. Dedicate some thought to figuring out your own sexual preferences.
Does it turn you on to imagine grabbing your wife by the throat (gently — kind of) and pushing her up again a wall? Would you prefer to be the one pinned? Or are you an old school romantic who yearns for soft music and dim lighting? Something else entirely? Learn your own sexual preferences so that you don’t try to force yourself into a role you think she wants just because some relationship expert told you it would work. Then apply this new information to step 5 below, telling your wife how you imagine her and asking her to share her own take in return. It has to work for both of you.
4. Allow her to tell you what she wants without feeling criticized.
The last thing anyone wants is to be sat down like a scolded child and told what they do wrong in the bedroom — let alone what they “should” be doing instead. At the same time, you won’t be able to make a change of any kind if you hear everything she tells you as an attack about what you do wrong rather than as a way to understand more about how she ticks. Does she want you to try painting pictures for her through texts? Or to whisper in her ear at an unexpected (maybe even inappropriate) time? Just the act of figuring out — together — what makes you each hot is likely to make you both hot.
5. Stop keeping secrets from each other.
I’m not necessarily a believer in the idea that omission is the same as lying, but I certainly believe that omission rarely makes anything better. These discussions have to happen. Your wife is your equal — your life partner. Her feelings, wants and needs are every bit as important as yours, and vice versa. If you want to be heard, you absolutely must let her know that she can trust you. The only way to prove that is through your actions. Hear her, consider her perspectives, be kind, and don’t judge.
6. Expect that marriage isn’t always a “wild bed of passion,” but it had better get freaky around once a week.
Unless the two of you have some alternate agreement, when you get married your spouse rightfully expects to be the only woman in bed with you for the rest of one of your lives, just as you expect the same fidelity from her. This being 2016 and all, that means that for a good 50-60 years ahead your only source of sexual satisfaction will be your wife or yourself. That is a long, long, long (I really cannot add enough “longs” to sufficiently emphasize this point) time to go without some wild passion ebbing and flowing along the way.
A recent study found that men and woman of every age who have sex less than once a week experience a significant decline in happiness. You can’t expect to maintain full throttle levels at all times, but as someone who works with divorcing couples everyday, I can guarantee that if you don’t bring some excitement to the surface on a regular basis, you will be headed to my office or one just like it one day in the not so distant future.
7. Recognize that a good marriage is worth fighting for, and a REALLY bad marriage is worth leaving.
If you neither love nor respect your spouse anymore, there is zero chance that either of you are being treated the way you deserve. There are few fates more hollow and numbing than a lifetime of chaste cohabitation with someone you probably wouldn’t choose as roommate, let alone spouse, if you had it to do over again.
Try and try again. Or realize when the time has come to stop.
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