THE STRESS AND CHALLENGES OF MODERN LIFE CAN GET IN THE WAY OF INTIMACY AND SEX … BUT ONLY IF WE ALLOW IT TO.
A couple came to see me a while back, apparently lost and desperate to find a way back to each other. I could see that they had been worn down on a lot of levels, especially with three young kids pulling at their already busy professional lives. I noticed the way they talked about each other, seemingly almost robotic at times. I looked at them and asked, “When is the last time you made love or had sex?”
The room got very quiet.
“I think it was right before we got pregnant with Jason,” she chimed in. He just nodded. Jason was nearly 3. The math was not good from my side of the table. I pressed them for reasons why, and they came forward with what I imagined they would: three kids, demanding work schedule, not a lot of sleep — all realities of being parents and also what I refer to as the Law of Distraction. Using actual circumstances to keep yourself at a distance from your partner, circumstances that no one could really challenge.
Marriage and sex: A partnership to at least talk if not act
I questioned them if they had ever talked about having sex, and both had even less to say on the topic. This was a complete shutdown. Without any conversation and action, it would ultimately be the meltdown of their marriage. When you stop talking, it is almost like not breathing, or breathing so lightly no one can tell.
Marriage is a partnership on so many levels, and therefore we need to be talking with our partner. Not just about the weather or what time to pick up the kids from school or if they ever called the plumber. Those are logistics and not the substance of your connection. That may work at times at the office, but it is the kiss of death to any personal relationship.
Conversation about sex is sensitive for most people. When it is just about the two of you, you are more likely to share your thoughts and feelings, your likes and dislikes. When the relationship speeds up and begins to include more demands and things such as kids and mortgages, sex is one of those plates that slowly stops spinning, begins to wobble and eventually crashes to the ground. We like when it’s working and don’t know how to talk about it when it’s not.
So, what do we do? Here’s my recipe for getting that part of your life back on track.
Get you sex life back on track
- If you are not having sex, all cards must be put on the table. Is there unresolved anger and resentment about other issues that have derailed this part of your relationship? Is it about attraction or loss thereof as a result of childbirth or forgetting where you put your gym card? Start talking or someone will eventually start walking.
- Own the Law of Distraction. Put it all out there, all the reasons why you have not had sex that would make a compelling argument in court. Look at how the two of you on paper and in your lives have built a wall between you, and understand that you are modeling connection and communication for your kids.
- Plan time away. If it can’t be for a weekend or even an overnight stay, make it a four- to six-hour day at a local hotel. Many offer day rates at a fraction of the cost of an overnight. Bring food, get massages, set the mood — notfor sex but for connecting and becoming intimate. If during the first time out you just are not inspired to have sex, then talk about it, or talk about your relationship in broad strokes and, if motivated to, get specific.
- Reconnect to kissing and touching. Imagine that you are just starting to date, so go for hand-holding, kissing, hugging — anything that brings your bodies and minds closer together.
- Seek a third-party support system. The above may seem natural for many of you to explore; yet, for some you may need a Coach or Therapist to act as an intermediary to help you get clear on the issues. Most importantly, what are your belief systems about sex, marriage and the “requirements” of sex in marriage that are more than likely calling the shots and influencing the choices you’re making?
Bottom line, the conversation must be started up again, and it is up to both of you to make this a priority.