Noted sex columnist, author and all around potty mouth Lora Somoza is jumping into the sack with you for a little afternoon delight. Each week Lora explores the trends, trysts and troubles under America’s covers. She invites a wide range of guests to discuss tantalizing topics that would make your mother blush. From fetishes to fellatio, libido levels to lingerie and every topic in between. Its uncensored, unedited, and underwear optional... Don’t take a shower just yet. It’s going to get dirty.

How to Improve a Sexless Relationship

Ever dealt with a partner that had lower sex drive than you? How about when the sex fizzles out completely? Read on…

Dear Lora,

I love your show–I could wish it reflected my own sex life in so many ways but we haven’t had sex in 3 years. 1 or 2 oral episodes in there but I have come to accept that this is my life since my wife shows zero interest. A few things: I am 58 and she is 61. It’s my 2nd marriage and her 3rd. She takes quite a few meds and possibly one of those may have some impact. There are other unresolved issues which may have a lot to do with it but we’ve been married for 16 years as of April of this year and part of the problem has always been mismatched libidos. We also have much different ways of showing love. A few years ago, we took the quiz in the book “The Five Love Languages”. I’ve always tried to ensure that I meet her needs according to what her language results were. The “challenge” is that the reverse has not been true and, to be totally honest, it has engendered a lot of anger and resentment on my part.

We are currently living apart because she decided she wanted to move closer to work so I am still living in the old house until I can sell this place. Last, but certainly not least–I always try to compliment her on her looks even though she has gained some weight–I still think she’s beautiful. I have been losing weight (I got up to 226 lbs. a couple of years ago but have been working out 3x a week and was down to 179 lbs at the end of December). I can’t remember the last time she ever told me I was attractive anyway or showed any interest in how I look, although she certainly gushed about how cute one of the guys I used work with was  a couple of year ago.

You won’t be able to solve it. I thought about cheating just for companionship and to feel some intimacy but I just can’t–it’s not in my makeup. I believe in keeping my commitments. I have always been loyal and will take that quality to my grave. I have tried to resolve my anger and just be more accepting. If you ever saw the movie “The Big Chill” there was a great line in it that says it all: “No one ever said life was fair, at least they didn’t tell me.”

OK, I have to start off by saying. Wow, that just sucks. Or should I say there is no sucking and that blows. And there is no blowing either and… well, you get my drift.

I’ve been getting a ton of letters from men AND women who find themselves in relationships where their partners have either lost interest in sex, are experiencing lower libido levels, or just seem to have “turned off” in the intimacy department.

So what’s the deal?

Well first off, you have to arm yourself with some facts.

That while it’s estimated that the average married couple has sex 58 times a year (a little over once a week), there’s about 15% of married couples who haven’t had sex in at least six months.

So… why?

A number of basic factors can come into play, but the biggies are:

Medical: Certain medications (especially certain anti-depressants) and health issues can really wreak havoc with your libido. Hormonal changes, menopause, erectile dysfunction, weight gain can all factor into a drop in desire. A frank discussion with your doctor can help drastically. And remember, the sex you have in your 20’s will be different than the sex you have in your 30’s, 40’s or 50’s as our bodies just change.

Life Changes / Stress: Having a child, losing a job, any major shift in the relationship can drastically change your emotions and throw your sexual desires out of whack. Or some people settle into the groove of their lives, spend more focus on careers, children and can become used to, even bored with their spouse.

Some people just have very low drives – It’s true. For a lot of people, sex is not that important to them. Their libido is just low and they may even be asexual. They may start off having sex with their partners but sex becomes less and less important as time goes on.

Unresolved issues in the relationship: DING DING DING! This one is a huge one. And usually the one that goes unchecked. If there is resentment or lack of communication in your relationship, guess where it’s really going to show itself? In the bedroom. I mean, think about it. Who wants to have sex with someone that they’re pissed at? And if it’s issues that have been festering for weeks, months, years, well, new fancy panties or a dozen roses ain’t gonna fix that shit.

Remember sex is a form of communication. Intimate, pleasurable communication. And when you’re not having it, well then, a lack of sex can be a signal that the intimacy in the marriage may be over. (Or at least on life support.)

What is going on to the partner that stills has an active libido during all this? Well, chances are you are feeling rejected, resentful, undesirable, even unlovable.

But guess what? The partner with the low to no libido may be feeling guilt or shame or resentment too. Why? because they aren’t “measuring up” to their partner’s expectations. And often, a spouse can feel an all or nothing mentality when it comes to physical intimacy. For instance, if a low libido wife doesn’t want to have sex, she may just cut herself off from kissing or spooning as well, as to not “give her husband any ideas.” Both people may be craving some form of physical intimacy but because there is NO communication, it becomes a severe black and white scenario, get it?

And my guess is NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT.

And the sad fact is that people in sexless marriages are more likely to consider divorce.

Any of this sound familiar?

So, what to do?

Well, the first one, getting a physical check-up, has the easiest solution.

But the other ones are not so easy because it involves a major shift in COMMUNICATION. Or maybe communication for the first time. If you are in a relationship that has been void of sexual intimacy for a long time, then you have to realize that things won’t change overnight.

But if you’re willing to put in the work, here are a few tools to help you improve your relationship:

1. Couple’s Counseling: the most important thing to do is get thee into therapy. One of the hardest things for a couple to do is to start talking about sexual problems once they’ve established a pattern of non communication. And you know what? Chances are you’re going to need help with that, so seeking professional assistance is often the best way to go. And if your partner doesn’t want to go, you should. You have to remember that we allow people to treat us a certain way. And with 16 years of marriage under your belt, that’s a long time of allowing certain behavior to be OK with you.

1. Language: It’s easy to look at your partner and want to say, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” But I’m sure you know that won’t get you anywhere except on the other side of a locked door. It’s the FEELING language that usually creates an opportunity for partners to listen with an open heart and an open mind.

For example, saying something along the lines of, “I really miss you and our physical intimacy. Is there anything I can do to help you?”

or

“I know you’re not in the mood and I respect that, but I have to be honest, being rejected makes me feel like there’s something about me you don’t like and I’m afraid I don’t turn you on anymore and that makes me feel crappy.”

When you keep the language about how YOU feel and not what THEY did, your partner is less likely to get defensive and listen.

Imago or “Mirror” therapy: This is simply a great way for the two of you to practice listening to each other, probably something that hasn’t really been happening.

You start off by saying a statement and your partner simply repeats to you what they think they heard. No responding, no defending, no judging. Just listening, clarifying and understanding. Because it’s vital that you both feel heard and understood.

So for instance, if you say, “I miss our physical intimacy and I wonder if I am desirable to you anymore.”

Your partner may respond, “What I hear you saying is you want more sex and I don’t compliment you enough.”

Then you get to correct you partner if you feel like you were’t really understood:
“I don’t just miss the sex, I really miss the connection with you and I genuinely question whether or not you find me desirable.”

To which your partner might come back with more of an understanding of what you really meant and then they get to respond, with you then mirroring back to them.

Continue on this way until you feel like you have come to a bit of some resolution or some understanding of each other.

If ever it gets to heated, take 20 minutes to calm down and come back. It may seem stupid to repeat each other’s words but when you have a breakdown in communication, you need to take baby steps to get it back.

Compromise: I hate to say it, but mismatched libidos are often a part of sex and sex is not always hearts and flowers coming out of our butts. So we may just have to find ways to compromise. I know, it bites balls, but so does life sometimes.

You may be able to come to an agreement where your partner kisses you while you masturbates or talks dirty to you while you watch porn or share more non sexual affection that gives you a sense of intimacy. Sex toys, pornography, erotic photos should all be on the table for sexual tools. Just because your partner’s sex drive has diminished doesn’t mean you have to let your die. NO way. It’s part of being human and it would only feed your resentment.

And last and probably the least popular:

Consider going your separate ways. I know! I said it!!! I should be tarred and feathered! But hear me out. In an article in the New York Times, Professor Denise Donnelly who studied sexless marriages said that in her studies, she found people in sexless marriages less happy in their unions and more likely to consider divorce. And of those participants that kept in touch with her after the study, the happiest ones were the ones who moved on to other partners.

I know it’s not always the answer but sometimes you need to look at why you’re staying in a marriage that’s unfulfilling and even causing you pain. There’s a lot of gray area here. And obviously, only you know the whole story but either you two can both start working towards a happier future together or really ask yourself if you might both be happier in different situations.

Good luck!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter