‘The sex-starved marriage” TED talk by Michele Weiner Davis
Excellent reasons why one should not reject their spouse.
An excellent, thought provoking article:
“5 ways you are unknowingly destroying your husband and killing your marriage” by Katelyn Carmen
“KILLING your marriage – DESTROYING your husband”
Harsh words and a little dramatic – don’t you think? – Or are they!
I admit I was a bit surprised with #2. I thought she was going to go down the criticizing husbands road. I had not considered this aspect of how being negative about ourselves and other things around our husbands can be harmful to the relationship, but it is so true. Negativity (any kind of negativity) is energy draining to those who express it and those who listen to it! No-one (that I know) really enjoys being around a negative person. This one made me think – how much complaining do I really do around my husband. I need to start paying attention to this aspect of my behavior.
“Women” (and men because she says this article also applies to men), “we need to be careful about how we are caring for our husbands” (wives) “and marriages. Don’t let the small stuff ruin the things that will bring you the greatest happiness in life.”
Here is a good article “Five Secrets that Make Marriage Joyful” by Gary and Joy Lundberg in the online LDS magazine, “Meridian”
Is your marriage joyful? It can be! I love that one of their tips is for both spouses to enjoy sexual intimacy – not just have sexual intimacy, but ENJOY it – both of them!
Gary and Joy Lundberg explains:
“Sexual intimacy is a vital part of the marriage relationship because it keeps you connected in a way that nothing else can. When enjoyed by both partners, it becomes a physical renewal of your love for each other—a re-commitment of your devotion and your determination to honor your marriage vows. It is a release of stress for both when both find pleasure in it. It bonds a couple, reviving your ability to face the world and all its pressures, together.”
Gary and Joy, married 58 years, really get it!!!
Update on this post – “An observation”
I did not get a chance to do my experiment because the same day I wrote that post, Hubby decided we needed to talk! Coincidentally, Hubby was feeling a little neglected also. (or perhaps he read the post lol) When we talked – and I expressed that he had not been as touchy feely as he usually is, he was surprised. In fact, he denied it! Instead – he felt I was the one pulling away and being distant.
As I said before, I usually am not the touchy feely one in this relationship. While I return the touches, hugs, and kisses, he is the one that most often starts them – mostly because its his love language and is natural for him. Plus he does it often enough that I don’t have to that much. However, as I said in my last post, I have had the higher sex drive and have been doing most of the sex initiation this past year and because I stopped initiating these last couple of months (I did not turn him away when he initiated), he felt I was the one who was pulling away. Even though he had curtailed the non-sexual touching during the same time period, and even though I did not change anything else about my behavior – I was the one creating the distance in his mind. Regardless of who created it first, the fact was we were both feeling a rift.
The experiment I was thinking about was to be the one to start initiating non-sexual touching. I was curious to see how he would respond since that was not our norm. I wondered if he would then start-up his non-sexual affection again, and/or if it would increase his desire for sex a little more in some way. I wondered if it would increase my desire levels a bit. I didn’t get the chance though because after our talk, Hubby immediately started the kissing, hugging, and hand holding again and actually even ramped up the frequency a bit – which was already a lot. And interestingly, he has also been initiating sex a lot more these past week. I wonder if he is feeling a bit insecure in our relationship, a little unsure of me and my feelings – and is trying to draw me back in. (Which if that is what he is doing, I can understand, given our past history of my being a denier for so many years.) I am still not initiating sex because my desire for sex is still low (although I go with the flow and the desire kicks in after some foreplay – usually) and perhaps this upfront lack of desire has him worried, although he has not brought it up. Or perhaps, like my reason for not initiating non-physical touching often because he does it often enough, my initiating sex before was often enough that he did not have to. And now he does.
Or perhaps I am over thinking this too much – and really all of this is a phase, or just related to age, or hormones, or life stresses or a combination of these life occurrences. I guess I could just ask him – but he would probably say “What are you talking about? and then say I am too analytical about things. (Which I am and why I have this blog 😉 )
Whatever the reasons – this experience has once again reinforced in my mind just how complicated navigating the husband/wife relationship, especially where sex is concerned. And this experience has also reinforced to me that we can’t get complacent – we have to work at staying in love, keep communicating, keep trying to reach out to each other, and keep finding ways to stay connected and bonded. It’s too easy for the relationship to slide and it does not take long for it to begin to erode, especially if we are not careful and mindful about nourishing and protecting it.
Given that it’s Valentines Day today – the holiday for lovers – I think it is appropriate to write a post about being lovers. This special holiday is a good time for us all to take a look at our husband/wife relationships and ask ourselves – are we our spouses lover? I like this simple definition of what a lover is: “a person who is in love with another; a person who has a sexual or romantic relationship with another”.
Being a lover seems to come naturally in the beginning of a relationship and in the early years of marriage. But somewhere along the line – especially after children come along and careers are being built – many spouses stop being lovers, they get lazy, and maybe a bit too complacent and comfortable with their relationship.
A friend posted this on Facebook. “The woman who puts her children before her husband will soon have neither… ” This friend is married to a woman who I know for a fact lives her life for her children, they come first and I think this post was a direct message to her from her husband. He is not blameless and has done many things to push her away and hurt their marriage and he has also put many things first before her. The way they act and treat each other is definitely not my definition of being lovers. Rather their relationship resembles a parental partnership and nothing more. I am not sure the marriage will survive when the children are raised and gone because once they no longer have to parent together – there will be nothing left in their relationship to keep them together!
I wrote this tongue in cheek post on the negative effect that children have on parents’ libidos. The truth is that children don’t kill libidos – spouses kill their own libidos by not giving their role as lovers the priority it needs to have. They often allow their other roles in life, including being a mother or father, to trump their roles of being a wife or husband and lover. They get out of the habit of thinking like lovers. acting like lovers, and making their spouses feel important and cherished. They don’t stop loving them, but sometimes you can’t tell that fact by watching their behavior.
I hear over and over, women discussing how hard it is to switch from Mommy mode after a long hard day and suddenly trying to be all hot and horny with their spouse. Most of them will tell you this switch does not work well because at the end of the day they are too tired to think about being a lover – let alone acting lovingly. Many husbands virtually ignore their wives all day long, except when they want sex – and then are surprised she is not a willing or enthusiastic participant.
Perhaps what needs to happen is a re-prioritization of the roles of being lovers. Perhaps they need to work on getting back into the habit of being lovers all day long, every single day like they did in the beginning of their relationship, instead of trying to switch to that role now and then, only when necessary or on special occasions.
Think back to how you were in the beginning of your relationship. How did you feel about your spouse? How often did you think about them? How did you treat them when you were with them? How did you talk or communicate with them? How often did you talk and communicate with them? How did you kiss and touch? How often did you kiss and touch? What would have happened to your relationship if you both treated each other the way you do now? Seriously consider that last question for a moment – would you have married each other if you acted then towards each other like you act now?
Now ask yourself – How do you feel about your spouse this minute? How often do you think about them during a typical day. In what way do you think about them? How do you treat them when you are with them? How do you communicate with them? What do you wear when you are around them? How often do you kiss and touch each other? Do they feel like they are loved and are in a sexual and romantic relationship with you? Are you their lover?
Let’s get even more specific with the questions. What happens when you wake up first thing in the morning? Do you jump right out of bed and rush to take care of the screaming baby or get yourself ready for work? Or do you take a minute first to cuddle up to your spouse, kiss them on the neck and say “Good morning lover!” before reluctantly leaving them to start the day? When you are apart do you miss them terribly and look forward to being with them again? When you are driving, does your mind wander to your spouse and do you start thinking about how sexy they were the night before and how incredibly good it felt when you made love with each other? Throughout the day, do things remind you of your spouse, do you ever take a minute to think how that sweet little baby has your spouse’s adorable dimple in his chin, or how your spouse would love the flowers in your boss’s office. Do thoughts of your spouse cause you to feel a little flutter of love in your tummy? Do you regularly text or email your spouse and tell them just how sexy you think they are and that you are thinking about them and missing them? Do you stop what you are doing and greet your spouse with a long lingering kiss and hug when you part or when you see each other again? Daily, do you think of special things you can do for them to let them know just how much you love and cherish them? What kind of voice and tone do you use when you talk to them throughout the day? Would someone listening to your conversation think you were their lover, or a business partner, or even worse, their parent? Do you regularly flirt with your spouse? Do you enjoy pleasing them and being pleased by them – even when you can’t have a full-blown sexual encounter? Do you think like a lover, do you act like a lover…are you your spouse’s lover?
Think like a lover – act like one – be a lover – all day long, every day! It really is that simple (at least in theory!!)
I came across this article “7 signs of a troubled marriage“.
A couple of things stuck out to me. First there is this quote”
“Lots of folks–more often women in my experience–condone their behavior by saying they don’t want to have sex if they don’t feel like it but this position readily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Both men and women get a boost of oxytocin–the bonding hormone–when sexual or even when cuddling, so paradoxically, if you have sex, you will then feel close (and more sexual) again. It’s a bit like priming the pump.”
Although I already knew this – it just hit me again how if you don’t have sex because you don’t want to have sex because you don’t feel like it makes us not feel like it more and more, and then we want it less and less. To reverse the cycle, you have more sex, which makes you feel like having more sex, which makes you want it more!! It’s amazing to think that this is how God created our bodies to work! He created our bodies to get a boost of the bonding hormone – oxytocin when we have sex and cuddle. So the answer to a low libido is right here for most women – but they just won’t do it!! Many therapists call this answer the “Fake it till you make it” technique.
The other part of this article that stuck out to me is this:
“If the only time that you spend with your mate is conducting the business of the marriage–doing chores, paying bills, managing child care–then the relationship ceases to have the qualities of a deep and tender friendship. As the old Michael Johnson song so aptly put it, “Love will get you through times of no sex better than sex will get you through times of no love…”
One thing I can say about my marriage, even during the long sexual desert period, was we maintained a friendship and spent time together on a regular basis as friends. I like being with my husband, we have fun together. We have always had a weekly date night, we grocery shopped together, when our children were old enough to be at home alone – we walked together in the morning. Even during the years of my GGS when sex was at a minimum (often only once a month for some of those years) we still spent a lot of time together enjoying each other in a non-sexual way. I know that many times, Hubby hoped this time together would help me want to have sex more with him. But sadly, it didn’t – my GGS was just too entrenched. I have wondered often if this friendship and time to together made a difference in our marriage surviving the sexual lean years. It definitely played a part in my being comfortable enough with my husband to reach out to him when I had my sexual awakening.
While these words come from a song – do you agree with the concept “Love will get you through times of no sex better than sex will get you through times of no love…”?
Thoughts on this article?
Hubby and I have been on a downward spiral the last couple of months as far as sexual frequency is concerned. His desire levels have been slowly decreasing for the past year or so (possible reasons why are for another post) but mine have remained the same, up to this point. During this year long decline, I have been the major initiator and he has been the accommodating party. However, for whatever reasons (also another post), this past couple of months my desire levels have also decreased to the point where I feel like I can have sex or leave it and be fine either way. This is the first time I have felt this way since my sexual re-awakening about 7 years ago. The result is our sexual frequency has decreased from about 3-4 times a week, to about 1-2 times a week, because I am not initiating as much. While our frequency has declined before for short periods of time – this is the longest time period that it has been this low since my re-awakening.
While this decline should be troubling to me, what is bothering me more is that Hubby and I seem more emotionally distant around each other, less touchy feely, and short tempered and snippy at each other. We have been going to bed different times so the nighttime cuddling is not occurring often. From the very beginning of our relationship, Hubby has always been physically affectionate towards me every chance he could get away with it. He was raised in a loving demonstrative family, while I was raised in a fairly cold, and non-touchy family and his main love language is touch. He likes to hold hands, hug, put his arms around me, cuddle etc. – even when his desire decreased this past year – his non-sexual displays of affection did not. He usually comes and finds me to kiss me goodbye before leaving to go to work, but not lately. The past several weeks he has yelled on his way out the door “I am leaving – have a good day”. So not only is our sexual frequency decreasing so is our overall physical contact. For the first time that I can remember – last night we went to see a movie and he did not once reach over to hold my hand. He finally put his arms around me the very last part though – so it’s not all stopping.
I wonder – are the displays of affectionate touching decreasing because we are having less sex or because we are more emotionally distant lately or because Hubby is going through a phase? Is my sexual desire decreasing because Hubby desires me less, or because he seems more physically distant, or because I am going through a phase?
Maybe we are both just really tired or getting lazy or going into winter hibernation mode.
All I know – is things are changing and I am pretty sure it’s not for the good!
I think I will have to do an experiment this next month or so. I will let you know the results.
Contrast this list from LDS Living online magazine in an article “50 ways to show your husband you love him”:
with this list in an MSN article: 10 steps to being a better wife:
Are these lists that different? (Other than Mormons tend to be a bit more prolific and think more is better sometimes – 50 vs 10 – whew, talk about being overwhelmed (and we can’t count – there are actually 51) lol). I did notice that sex is not mentioned at all in the LDS article, while it is in the MSN article (in the explanation part under #3 Keep the romance alive, it says initiate sexual play).
Are LDS marriages so different from non-LDS marriages? Are LDS men that different than non-LDS men? I don’t think so.
I would like to hear from all men, LDS and non-LDS men – here’s your chance – tell us your list. What are the top 10 things your wife can do to show you she loves you? List them in the order of priority of importance to you!
In this article the Schmitz’s wrote something that I was quite surprised by (bolding added): “Over the years we have interviewed thousands of successfully married couples, and most report a reasonable degree of satisfaction with their sex life. But here is our most important research finding concerning this issue: no marriage was ever made successful because the couple had a great sex life!”
OK – I can go along with that one! Sex is just one component of a marriage, so I can agree that ONLY having a great sex life will not make a marriage successful, especially if the other components are not good! But then they go on to say (bolding added): “You see, marriage is a multi-faceted and highly complex relationship, and in the best marriages, no one aspect stands out as the “make or break” part of it. The truth is, there are seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages. And guess what: sex isn’t one of them! Sex is only one part of the seven characteristics of a successful marriage.”
Sex isn’t one of the seven pervasive characteristics present in all successful marriages? Really??? I have a hard time believing that statement! If sex is not one of the seven why does it seem like the lack of sex is one of the top complaints about marriage. So where is their conclusion coming from?
I remember reading somewhere the ideal that goes something like this (I am going off memory here) – while sex contributes to only about 10% towards the satisfaction of a marriage, the lack of sex becomes about 90% of the problems in a marriage. In many marriages, this is definitely the situation. When you are ranking the importance of things, it makes a difference who you ask to do the ranking. If you are asking sex starved spouses, they would rank the importance of sex high, but if you are asking the spouses who are denying sex in the marriage, they would rank the importance low. Couples who have successful marriages, which apparently is where the authors are getting these rankings from, most likely do not have issues with lack of sex – so because it flows naturally out of the relationship, they may not rank its importance as high as those who are missing it, although I would think they would still recognize it’s importance to a point.
I was a bit confused when the authors wrote: “And more importantly, when we asked successfully married couples how important sex is to the success of their marriage — to rank on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest — the average rank was only 6! This finding has held true over the more than 30 years of our research. The results are hardly a resounding endorsement for the importance of sex in a successful marriage.” My conclusion is a little different from theirs. I am thinking an average ranking of 6 actually says it IS important in a successful marriage. You have to consider that they are probably surveying couples of all ages, which would affect the ratings. My life experience tells me that importance rankings change in different stages of marriage, or in other words, what is important to newly weds is different from couples with children, which is different from empty nesters, which is different from couples dealing with aging issues. Also, with in the stages, the importance rankings can be different even between the couples themselves, or in other words a young man may rank the importance of sex high while his young wife ranks it low, etc. An overall average ranking of 6, considering the different stages of all the participants, seems like it is still up there high on the importance scale in my book. Part of my confusion comes because the authors write on one hand it has an average ranking of 6, but on the other hand it is not one of the seven characteristics of a successful marriage. Not sure where they are getting the seven from then!!
According to this couple who wrote the article – “Touch” plays one of the seven important roles in a successful marriage. They say sex is only one form of touch, there are many forms of touch, and no single form “wins the day”. Rather the key lies in an “accumulation of touching”! OK… I am still trying to wrap my head around this concept, and I am not sure I totally agree with it. However, in a way I can kind of see what they are saying. I know that when sex gets taken off the table, more often than not, touch also goes out the window. I did not allow much touching during my denial years, because it led to fights about sex. When I allowed any touching or kissing or hugging, Hubby tried to take it further to get sex. So it was easier (on me) to just stop the touching part to begin with. Because of this, not only was their lack of sex, there was also lack of touching, kissing, & hugging for the most part. And now that sex is very much a big part of our life – there is also a lot of touching going on too – including in non-sexual situations. We hold hands, hug, kiss, caress, bump shoulders, pat, tickle, dance, snuggle, spoon, etc. – A LOT!!! Touching is very important to us, but most of our touching has a bit of a sexual element in it somewhere even if it does not immediately lead to full-blown sex. Maybe that’s why I am having a hard time understanding the point of this article. Or perhaps this is just a matter of what comes first – the chicken or the egg? Are they saying that touching is the important part because it allows the sexual part to flow more naturally?
I don’t know! As I think about it even more – back in the denial days, I don’t think Hubby would have thought our marriage was all that much better if we touched a lot – but still did not have sex! I know that now that my drive is on the high side – I would not be happy to only have touching and no sex. So I am not sure I really understand what this article is really trying to say here. It almost seems like they are trying to negate the importance of sex in a marriage. If that is the case, I am not sure I can agree with that conclusion.
How about you – what are your thoughts on this article?
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