‘The sex-starved marriage” TED talk by Michele Weiner Davis
Excellent reasons why one should not reject their spouse.
My friend V. L. Holt (her bio is at the bottom), who also wrote this guest post, “Sex as Rocket Science“, recently went through a short dry spell in her intimate life with her husband. I asked her if she had any advice for women going through dry spells because of their husbands periods of lack of desire. She consented to let me share her wisdom:
“Top Ten Things to Do to Survive a Dry Spell in Marriage from the Wife’s Perspective”
Before you freak out, have a little faith. There really are wives out there who enjoy fulfilling sexual relationships with their husbands. And when we hit a dry spell in our intimate life, we feel the pinch.
10) Find a new hobby. Very little can compete with the massive endorphin flood you get from an orgasm, so choose carefully. Bungie jumping off a bridge or sky diving are great options.
9) Visit amusement parks. Again, we’re trying to duplicate the hormone rush of good sex, so the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland isn’t going to cut it. We’re talking the Kingda Ka of Six Flags or Top Thrill Dragster of Cedar Point. With speeds upward of 120 mph, a girl can get mighty happy mighty quick. It’ll do.
8) Night out with the girls. Since hubby isn’t putting out, then it must be time to go out. Nothing gets so gut-bustingly funny as a bunch of real Mormon housewives drunk on being kidless for an evening. Plus being around extra estrogen can help tone down your sex drive so you’re not so peckish.
7) Speaking of hungry, the right food is the right stuff. Since you’re missing sex, you’re going to want to find something that will be a decent replacement without creating an even more keen desire. Avoid aphrodisiac foods like oysters, certain mushrooms or Indian food. (Think Kama Sutra.) Instead go for the things that you usually avoid because of the risk of bad breath. Garlic-stuffed cheese bites, sardines in mustard sauce, spicy BBQ pork rinds. Gnosh away!
6) Cuddle time with the kids. Studies have shown that women are capable of surviving with less sex than men comfortably because of the hormones that are involved in cuddling kids. Oxytocin and relaxin are just a couple that get released when you’re hugging or smooching on your toddler. Or adrenaline, if your toddler doesn’t want to cuddle and you end up chasing him all over the house brandishing a stuffed duck and a picture book.
5) Take flying lessons. All by yourself. If you get my drift.
4) Sex isn’t just about orgasm. Some other benefits are bonding (see #6) and unifying a couple. So if the reason you’re not making whoopee isn’t health-related, try an activity with your husband that unites you. Ganging up against your rebellious teenager whose grades mysteriously dropped two levels in one quarter can really unite you. Support your husband as he takes away the car, the phone, the internet, the bedroom door and one of the three meals. Your united front will bring you even closer.
3) There are some things you should probably avoid, you know, if you don’t want to be reminded of your low period. Things like sexy movies, sexy books, or cucumbers.
2) Surf blogs about married sex. Sometimes it’s nice to know that you’re not the only woman out there who is pining for the sweaty desperate yoga move called the beast with two backs.
1) Find a new hubby. Oh, oops! Typo! That’s not what I meant! I already put find a new *hobby* up at the top! What I meant to say, was try a little thrill-seeking stunt, like donning a raincoat and nothing else, and streaking through the park. Or if you don’t mind swallowing your pride, you could try begging for sex, but I don’t recommend it. If hubby really doesn’t feel like it, then you’re both going to feel lousy after he refuses.
I hope you enjoyed these nifty suggestions for surviving your sexual dry spell in marriage. If you end up trying anything illegal, you didn’t get the suggestion from me. And if you end up trying anything death defying and getting injured…well then hubby gets to take care of you. Maybe you’ll get lucky and he’ll give you a sponge bath.
V. L. Holt is a SAHM of six kids ranging from missionary age to nursing age. After the third one came along, she asked a good friend how did anyone manage to make any more? Her friend suggested pushing a dresser in front of the bedroom door.
Holt also spends time writing. Her most recent accomplishment was 97: Rise of the Battle Bred, a young adult paranormal with ironically, no sex in it.
If you get a chance, check out her book. It’s a great read, and proof that good stories don’t have to have graphic sex in them to make them sexy.
Thanks V for the great advice!
Apparently these tips written by a man who just got divorced have gone viral:
and this women who is on her third marriage gives 10 tips from the female perspective:
And these are my tips that I wrote in response to a young women on a forum awhile back. Later, I re-wrote it for another thread to make it gender neutral as I believe it applies to both spouses:
Its very important for you to remember your brain is your biggest sex organ – for both men and women. It is important to remember that in addition to your roles as parents, you also have the roles of wife, husband, friend and lover – and the husband/wife relationship needs to be nurtured just as much as your children need to be nurtured. If you were to neglect your children it would be disastrous. It is the same with the husband/wife relationship. To neglect it is disastrous and it will not thrive. One of the best ways to nurture the relationship is through having a healthy and frequent sex life with each other. The husband/wife relationship is the only sanctioned place by God for sexual activity to occur. For most men this is how they feel loved and adored. Having a woman that desires them and who wants to please him and allows him to desire her and please her is most men’s biggest desire in a marriage. They don’t just want sex, they also want an emotional connection with their wives and they want to be loved and supported and respected. Most women want to be loved, cherished, and adored. They want to be treated with respect and sensitivity. They want their husbands to talk to them and listen to them They want them to be a good fathers and a righteous leader in their homes.
Making a success of your marriage really is all about attitude. If you want it to be successful and put the work in it will be!
Here are my suggestions of things a woman and man can do for themselves and their marriage to keep the sexual embers burning!
1. Exercise regularly – that will help with your energy level and also your body image. It also often helps ramp up sexual feelings.
2. Eat healthy and regularly – also helps with energy level and body image.
3. Set aside some regular alone time with your spouse every day. During that time, only focus on each other. No TV, or computers, etc. Talk, listen, cuddle, make out – all the things you did while you were courting and before the children came. This seems to go out the window when children come – and it is something that is missed!
4. Have a regular date night once a week. I hear over and over couples say they can not afford a babysitter to do this. I say – you can not afford not to do this. If money is a problem set up babysitting exchanges with other couples. It is so important to keep your relationship alive – to be alone with each other and to have fun together without the kids. You don’t have to spend money on these dates – be creative and just have fun.
5. Be careful of letting resentment build up for things your spouse does or does not do. Discuss things that are bothering you. Watch out for getting into the faulty thinking pattern that your spouse has to do everything the way you think they should or it is wrong. Let them do things their way – and I promise you – your house and children will be just fine. And show appreciation for everything they do and never criticize it in the same sentence. If you need to teach them something so they are more helpful to you – do it at a time when they have not just attempted doing it or just did not do it.
6. Schedule sex time at least 3 times a week. If you have to change the schedule, make it up. Make this the priority it should be. You can still be spontaneous other times and you can surprise each other during these times. Someone suggested 1 time a week, but I don’t think that is enough for the young high drive guys and is really setting the bar too low. Use these scheduled times to take it slow and just touch and hug and reconnect each other – don’t rush right into the sex. Include Lots and lots of foreplay. This is participating sex for both parties! Women, do not EVER get into the habit of saying ” just do and get it over with”. And men – don’t accept pity sex!!! Allow yourself to relax and feel the sensations along with giving each other some sensations. Enjoy pleasing each other. You don’t have to have an orgasm every time, but learn to enjoy the process. Learn about sex, read about it – its an important part of a marriage – a very important part. Women – Don’t make this a chore that it is something you have to do. And men – be careful to not look at your wife as a sex object who it there to fulfill your needs! This is all about attitude, attitude, attitude!
7. Unlike men, most women are not turned on or in the mood when they start having sex, but they do get turned on in the process of having sex if they will let themselves. So women, even if you aren’t feeling it at the moment, try to keep yourself open to sex and allow your brain to get turned on so your body can follow. This really is a conscious effort on your part – if you want to be turned on you have to let yourself get turned on in your head before the body will respond.
8. Women’s bodies change from childbirth and will change during other times of their life too, as will men’s bodies. What worked before for you sexually or what works now, may not necessarily always work for you. So you and your spouse have to be flexible and there will be times that you have to re-discover your changed bodies and look for new things that work.
9. Women, court your husband, flirt with him, stop and think about sex throughout the day. Get your husband to court you again, have him flirt with you. And no he is not a mind reader and should not be expected to know what to do without you telling him!! Men – help her to stay madly in love with you by the way you treat her. Help her to feel she is the most important person in the world to you!
10. Think back to the erotic and romantic times you had before you were married and when you were first married. Use your sex organ – the brain- often!!
11. Women – Do things that make you feel sexy – light candles – take a hot relaxing bath and have your husband join you and wash your hair, wear sexy clothes, etc. Men – romance your women. Keep yourself sexy looking, take care of your hygiene, brush your teeth, etc.!!!!
12. Remember having a healthy happy sex life with your spouse is all about your ATTITUDE towards each other. If you want to have a healthy, happy frequent sex life with each other, and are willing to put in the effort – then you WILL have exactly that!
What tips would you add?
Several years ago, sitting in a doctor’s office for an appointment, I read an article in a magazine, “Redbook”, if I remember correctly. The article was on how sex can fix many issues in a marriage. While I do not believe it is a “fix all” solution, I do have to agree with the article’s main idea that having frequent sex together does have value for keeping a good marriage strong and healthy and can help ease some of the relationship bummers that naturally occur in every marriage.
Often In my marriage, sex definitely has a positive, almost magic effect in fixing some of our “issues”. For example – one particular week was extremely busy for my husband. He was gone a lot and stressed to the max with all of his responsibilities that were coming to head all at once. At the same time I was facing a major medical issue that required us to do research and make some important decisions. We did not have a lot of time together during this period and when we were together, we had to use the time to discuss the concerns and decisions we were facing. Sex got pushed to the side line because of lack of time and availability.
By the following weekend, we were exhausted, cranky, distant, and quick to criticize each other. Sunday morning, the digs at each other were flying everywhere. Neither of us was really mad at the other, but we were both frustrated about other things in our lives. That frustration was getting thrown around in very negative ways, and although it was not directly targeted at each other, we were managing to splatter everything with it. After a cryptic remark from hubby, I retorted, “You are way to cranky! You know what you need? … You just need a good lay.” A smile slowly spread on his face. Things got playful from there and we both relaxed enough to let it flow! And from there the tension that had been building melted away! It really was that simple.
After a very satisfying afternoon our moods were so different. We felt so connected and bonded, we were refreshed; we were giddy and laughing at the dumbest things. We had more energy and we just felt so much better all around. That couple of hours reconnected us in a way that nothing else could and helped us to feel ready to face the even more grueling week ahead.
I do have to point out that in this situation, if I was really mad at my husband and all the negativity was because of relationship issues – sex probably would not have happened until we had worked things out between us. But once we had worked things out, sex would have served as the balm to heal the relationship again. In the above situation, there was nothing to work out between the two of us, we just needed time to step away from our stressors and reconnect on a very intimate level. Sex provided just what we needed.
Sometimes our relationships get damaged from everyday living if we are not careful. Since opening myself back up to being sexual in my marriage I have found that many times – sex magically relieves some of the everyday stresses we face and helps us to come together as one. It also helps us to refocus on what is really important which is our marriage and our relationship with each other. It took me a long, long time to get to this point of understanding the importance and effects of a healthy, frequent sex life in my marriage. Sex CAN do a lot to fix many marital issues!
And on top of that it just feels really, really good!
My answer: YES – YES – YES – Sex IS extremely important to most marriages!
Unfortunately, in many marriages, it’s place on the priority list does not match it’s importance level. Often some serious elevation is needed to raise it where it belongs. If a happy, frequent, satisfying sexual relationship with your spouse is not a high priority in your marriage, I feel confident in saying – your marriage is not all it could be and may even be suffering!
Perhaps it’s time for a priority check up and some re-arranging!! If your spouse makes it a low priority – it’s time for some open and honest discussions. In some cases some professional counseling will be necessary!
Sex is TOO IMPORTANT to a marriage to let issues remain unresolved!
In this article she touches upon some causes of sexual apathy or lack of desire in some women. There are other causes or reasons but I think these are probably the most common.
1. Negative sexual conditioning resulting in the “Good Girl Syndrome”
2. History of sexual abuse or trauma
3. Hormonal changes – sometimes caused by child bearing, nursing, menstruation, or menopause
4. Relationship issues between the husband and wife
5. Self-image and cultural expectation issues
Four out of the above five issues contributed to my sexual apathy! Lucky me – right? Actually – Unlucky husband!!!
My biggest issue was the “Good Girl Syndrome” which kept me from addressing the other issues affecting my desire level. This syndrome was entrenched in my psyche deeply. Sexual desire was wrong, and in my mind it was something that needed to be bridled and extinguished. Passion and purity did not fit together. If I wanted to be chaste, I had to avoid thinking about sex and feeling sexual. I could not be sexual and spiritual at the same time. These faulty thinking patterns greatly inhibited my ability to relate sexually with my husband. And it caused me to dismiss and even resent his sexual desires and needs.
Mormon cultural expectation and self- image was a huge part of the GGS. I wanted to be seen as a good Mormon wife and mother. I wanted to be spiritual. Appearances to others was important to me. As far as sex was concerned, I kind of figured most women were the same as me. No-one talked about it much! If the topic was broached, it was usually in a negative way. I didn’t have role models. My mother never talked about sex – except in letting me know all the don’ts! I didn’t know any Mormon women who were sexually healthy. I am sure there were some – but like I said, no-one talked about sex! It seemed like a taboo subject. There were many times I wanted to talk to someone about it, but I never had the guts to bring it up, not even with my close friends. The experience with my Bishop when I confessed I masturbated seared in my mind that Mormon women were not suppose to be sexual.
In addition I believe hormonal imbalance also contributed somewhat to my lack of sexual desire. I had several children quickly, one after the other – so for the first 8 years of our marriage, I was either nursing or pregnant. My hormones were a wreck – and I don’t think they ever recovered after. I used birth control pills for awhile after the last child and what little sexual desire I had occasionally tanked even further to no desire at all – ever. Going off the pill helped a bit, but not a whole lot, since the GGS was in full fledge by then.
Lastly – it is not the least bit surprising that Hubby and I had some major relationship issues. All marriages have them. Were our issues compounded by not having a good sexual relationship? Knowing what I know now I would say definitely yes! Back then, I didn’t think that way. Yes, we fought – all couples fight! My husband sulked – well, that was his problem. There was very little physical affection between us – it led to sex so I avoided physical contact. I wanted emotional intimacy – hubby wanted sexual intimacy. I was angry and resentful, sometimes spiteful. I felt he did not help enough with the kids and house. He felt I was too picky and controlling and had to have things done my way. I was the strict parent, he was the lenient one. I was overwhelmed with all the children and responsibilities. He was overwhelmed for the same reasons plus his career. Finances were always tight and we always seemed to be spinning our wheels and getting no-where. What I realize now is that we had no mechanism to bring us together, to console each other, to find peace and solace with each other. It was not until I opened myself up sexually with him during these latter years, that I found out how a good healthy sexual relationship can be this mechanism to bring couples together. Hubby tried to get me to be more sexual with him. He pursued, withdrew, avoided, sulked, tried to please, poured himself into his career and church callings, and eventually after many years just quit trying so hard. Eventually, we navigated our way into a comfortable routine. It was not particularly happy or satisfying for either of us, but it was comfortable. Hubby still tried to initiate sex – but not as often – and he seemed to accept the occasional pity sex as all he was ever going to get – and stopped pushing for more.
Dr. Natasha Parker ended her above article: “Sex is good. It is of God. It is a wonderful, sacred, bonding, and procreative power; a gift that in essence allows a taste of divinity! Dorothy Allison says, “Women lose their lives not knowing they can do something different. . . . I claimed myself and remade my life. Only when I knew I belonged to myself completely did I become capable of giving myself to another, of finding joy in desire, pleasure in our love, power in this body no one else owns.”
I am so grateful that I have been able to discover that I CAN do something different. I am enjoying the process of claiming myself and remaking my life! I encourage others to do the same! It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to give myself wholly to my husband and accept him giving himself to me! Honestly there is nothing like it!
Try it and find out for yourself if you have not already done so.
Continued from My story – early years:
The early years of marriage and turning off my sexual feelings:
When I decided I needed to stop the cycles of masturbation and guilt, I got up the courage to confess to the Bishop in order to try to stop this behavior. After telling him what I did, he looked at me in shock and said, “I didn’t know girls did that!” I was horrified and ashamed. This embarrassing experience, along with many other experiences contributed to my development of what is often referred to as the “Good Girl Syndrome”, or in other words a faulty thinking pattern that good girls aren’t sexual. To the dismay of my husband – as the years progressed, I slowly began an unconscious descent into thinking that being sexual, feeling sexual, seeking pleasure during sex was wrong – and I began to turn my sexuality off. During those years, I felt I could not be both spiritual and sexual – so I turned my efforts towards trying to be more spiritual and sex just did not seem to fit well in the equation – or so I thought!
More and more I began to turn my husband away, and as I denied my sexuality, I began to feel his desires to be sexual were not only unimportant, but actually quite annoying. I felt he was being lustful and needed to learn self-control. I had no comprehension about the benefits of sex in a marriage – I didn’t think there were any. Our intimate relationship deteriorated and eventually my husband found himself living in a sexual desert. When we did have sex, it was cold and clinical. Rarely, I allowed him to pleasure me with his hands, but the faulty mind reel that played in my head made the pleasure of orgasms fade quickly. Sex felt wrong! It did not make me feel closer to my husband.
I desired emotional intimacy with him and to be held and cherished. But I soon found that any physical contact caused him to want more and he would try to push any physical contact into sex. So I pushed him away more and more. He would get angry, he sulked, he groped, he tried to do things to make me happy, hoping to get rewarded. Nothing worked. When I felt he was pulling away completely, I would get scared and I would allow him to have sex to appease him – pity sex as I call it now. Then we would begin the cycle again. I would deny, etc. it was a vicious cycle. I don’t know why my husband stayed with me – but he did, mostly because of the children and because of his religious beliefs that one should not seek divorce. He was not happy in the marriage, but he tried to make the best of it anyways – and this destructive sexual cycle lasted over 25 years.
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