While there’s definitely more to a marriage than sex, it’s still incredibly difficult to sustain a happy, healthy one without it. Whether it’s temporary or permanent, a lack of sexual intimacy is mentally, physically, and emotionally hard on both parties in any committed relationship. Over time, it can even cause a couple to grow apart to the point where a split seems inevitable. But how much sex is “enough” anyway? Should you and your partner be having more?
According to The Wall Street Journal, the average sex therapist would consider a given marriage “sexless” if the couple has sex fewer than 10 times per year. If that sounds like you and your spouse, you’ll want to address the problem sooner rather than later, especially if either of you isn’t feeling satisfied in that arena. The following tips can help you cope as you work toward turning your marriage around.
- Remind yourself that you’re not alone.
Despite the fact that it can feel that way at times, you’re definitely not the only one coping with a lack of marital sex. It’s estimated that around 20% of all American married couples are in marriages that would be considered sexless by the definition above. An additional 25% have sex less often than once per week on average. Put those numbers together and that’s quite a few people who want to be hooking up and getting laid but can’t. In other words, sexual dry spells or ruts are really pretty common and they’re something nearly every couple struggles with at some point.
- Figure out why you’re not having sex more often.
There are actually lots of possible reasons why the sex might dry up in a given marriage, so you’ll need to figure out why that’s been the case for you and your spouse. Sometimes one or both partners are dealing with health issues or stress levels that are higher than average. Other times, body image issues, low libido, menopause, age, or any number of other factors are to blame. Still more people may loss interest in sex because they’re feeling unloved, overlooked, or neglected by their partner. If you’re not sure what the problem is, it’s time to sit down and talk things out with your partner. Once you know what’s wrong, you can work toward fixing it together.
- Consider going to therapy together.
Sometimes a good, honest talk is really all it takes to clear the air and get both halves of a couple working toward fixing a problem, but it’s not always that simple for everyone. If you and your partner still feel stuck after attempting to work things out on your own, some assistance from an impartial third party might help. A marital counselor or sex therapist will be quite familiar with what you’re going through and can offer valuable, constructive insight on how to get your mutual sex life back on track. There’s absolutely no shame in needing or asking for help either, so don’t be afraid to explore therapy sooner rather than later.
- Recommit yourself to looking your best.
How you and your partner feel about yourselves physically can have a huge impact on how active your sex life is or isn’t. If either person has been feeling out of shape, unattractive, or like they’ve been letting themselves go lately, it can be hard to feel much like getting it on. That said, it might be time to consider hitting the gym more often, eating better, or stepping things up in the grooming department. Not only will you feel sexier and more confident, but your partner will love knowing you still care about impressing them. If both of you could use some improvement in this area, consider putting in some quality time at the gym together. Pursuing a common goal together is a wonderful way to reconnect as a couple.
- Schedule regular date nights.
When you’re married, especially if you’ve been married a while, intimacy can wind up taking a back seat to more pressing responsibilities like kids and work. Failing to spend enough quality time together as a couple outside of the bedroom can definitely lead to a lack of connection between the sheets as well. Get things back on track by treating yourselves to regular chunks of quality time together, just the two of you. Catch a movie, grab dinner, or spend an entire evening binge-watching the latest must-see Netflix series. What you do is up to you. Just make sure you’re adding it to your schedules and treating it with the same degree of seriousness you would anything else important. And check out some pro tips for dating women, they should come in handy even for a married couple planning to play the dating game a little bit just for fun.
- Broaden your views on what counts as intimacy.
When you’re going through a serious dry spell, it can be tough not to focus only on how much intercourse you are or aren’t having. However, it’s important to realize that there are lots of ways to be intimate with your partner and all of them are valid. Sometimes when the sex isn’t there, couples also stop kissing, touching, or being physically intimate with one another on any level. If that’s been the case for the two of you, definitely don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to get straight back to going all the way. Start from square one with touching, cuddling, or kissing instead and work up to other things once you feel ready.
- Make time for more solo sessions.
When a married couple isn’t having much sex, it’s not uncommon for their libidos to wane in general. If that’s been the case for you, masturbating more often might seem like it would be counterproductive, but the opposite is actually true. The more sex you have – solo or otherwise – the more you’ll want to have. That said, try making more time to enjoy sexy time separately first. Watch pornography or spend some time mentally indulging some of your pet fantasies. Explore your own bodies and get back in touch with yourselves sexually. Then try reconnecting again as a couple. If you feel like sharing some of the things you fantasized about when you were alone, so much the better!
- Consider thinking outside the box.
Relationships have evolved quite a bit here in the 21st century, so more couples than ever are open to pushing the traditional boundaries of what married sex ought to be like. If you and your partner are open-minded on this level, now might be a great time to revisit the idea of having a threesome. For the right couple, a threesome, foursome, or more-some can be a great way to put the spice back into a languishing bedroom routine. Don’t choose a good friend or anyone else you know well to be your third though. Instead, try signing up for an account on a sexy online interface like FetLife or Mixxxer and exploring the possibilities together.
- Discuss the possibility of an open marriage.
Although they’re not right for everyone, open marriages are definitely becoming more and more popular these days. People are becoming more expansive as far as how they define fidelity and they’re realizing that a marriage doesn’t necessarily have to be monogamous in order to be committed, loving, or healthy. If you and your spouse feel the same, opening up your marriage either temporarily or indefinitely might be one approach to a sexual dry spell. Just make sure you discuss it together thoroughly and set some ground rules that work for both of you before you seal the deal (e.g. “no sex with friends” or “never bring a sex partner home”). You may just find that exploring your sexual side with other people makes it easier to find your way back to each other in the bedroom as well.
- Don’t worry about what’s “normal”.
When you’re not fully satisfied with the state of your married sex life, you’ll definitely be tempted to compare your relationship with others you see around you. You’ll certainly worry about how you and your partner measure up to other couples in the sex department. However, while comparing yourselves to others can be helpful in letting you know you’re not alone, it can also put a lot of unnecessary pressure on you if you’re not careful. Make sure you’re focusing on striking the right balance for the two of you, not trying too hard to keep up with the Joneses. It could well be that the “right” amount of sex for your marriage is either more or less than what’s considered average.
At the end of the day, how you and your partner breathe new life into your sexual relationship is completely up to you. All that matters is that both partners are happy with what’s decided and with where it leads. Feel free to get creative and come up with even more ideas together. Your sex life will be back on track before you know it.