Do you ever find yourself looking at your relationship and asking, “why am I not happily married?”
Is your sex life deteriorating?
Do you ever stare at yourself in the mirror each morning and wonder “where did it go wrong?”
Do you find yourself asking, “why is my husband so clueless. He acts like he doesn’t even notice that our marriage isn’t working.
“Is it worth hanging on? What should I do?” you might ask yourself.
When you look around do you see signs of an empty, perhaps even a sexless marriage in which neither of you are doing enough to solve the problems.
Is the relationship between you and your husband (or wife) becoming more strained?
That’s a lot to chew on isn’t it?
So let’s go back to the part about troubles in the bedroom because it is there where we will learn about a bigger truth.
Do you and your husband have issues around sex?
Do you feel somewhat pressured to go along with having sex, just to get it over with?
Does he complain about not being satisfied?
Or are their other types of sexual compatibility troubles?
There is not always agreement on the cause of sexual or intimacy issues in a marriage. Sometimes, there are two different viewpoints that are advanced and it often breaks down according to gender.
Is the problem in the bedroom due to you not getting enough sex (one guy’s perspective) or is it because you are not receiving sufficient emotional support and tenderness in the marriage thereby causing lovemaking to become mechanical and uninspiring (one woman’s perspective)?
Without a doubt, this is not an easy topic to navigate because there are a lot of variables at play and we are dealing with such an intimate and vulnerable act.
But we are going to forge ahead and you will learn that the secret of great love making is about something very fundamental.
We Are Having Bedroom Issues In Our Marriage – I Don’t Know What To Do
There are plenty of marriages out there that are falling way short of realizing a deep and complete sexual bond.
And just about every one of them can make improvements.
If you are dealing with a sexual issue of some kind, then the first thing you should realize is that the quality of your sexual bond with your spouse (i.e. your willingness to frequently participate and enjoy sex with your partner) in many ways is connected to how you and your partner engage with each other in other parts of the marriage.
Talking, touching, showing tenderness, listening, expressing understanding, offering empathy and exhibiting kindness….these are all things that connect us and facilitate wonderful sexual experiences.
The trick is that these things need to happen with consistency before the sex act.
OK, so it’s not really a trick.
That is a bad choice of words!
Doing those things I described above are foundational. Without them, you and your lover will be missing out on a lot of good sex.
Intimacy Troubles In The Bedroom
A woman came to me the other day and told me she and her husband were having problems in bed.
My approach was not to ask first about their sex life. Delving into matters of how they optimized arousal and attraction is seldom a good place to start.
I have written a book about boosting arousal so I could talk all day about that topic. But that is not really where you want to begin when seeking to understand what might be the crux of their intimacy issues.
I prefer to take a more holistic view of things around sexuality and arousal.
You almost always have to peel back some of the layers of the marriage to see what is really going on.
Most often, the central issue resides not between the sheets, but rather it is what is happening during the course of the day when husband and wife are interacting.
Let’s me give you an example.
Let’s say you come to me and tell me there is something wrong with your marriage. You explain that things between you and your husband have been bad for awhile. You say leaving this bad marriage is not an option.
You want to make it better. You want everything to be better because you love your husband and you want him to be happy, but you also hunger for fulfillment.
Not just sexual fulfillment, but you want to be happily married in all respects.
You cry and wonder out loud, “why do good marriages suddenly go bad?” You plead for clarity to focus on those things to make it better. “What am I doing wrong in my relationship“, you ask out loud?
“Is my husband dissatisfied with me and our sex life? He won’t say? All I know is I feel him slipping away, becoming disinterested in me. He seems angry and turned off. Have I rejected him to often? We are not always on the same page when it comes to our sex life. I want him back, but I want him to change too because he isn’t always there for me.”
Is the sexual connection between these two the problem?
Should we strip bare what these two are doing in the night, analyzing each step and stage of their lovemaking process?
Or is there something else that is creating this dysfunction?
Where The Marriage Took the Wrong Turn
So let’s continue this story.
You have already put a lot of yourself into the marriage, seeking to make it the best it can be. You know it’s imperfect.
You are not a quitter and just because something is off with your marriage, doesn’t mean you are going to throw it into the dumper and start again.
Sore spots in a marriage can arise easily.
Issues around sexual chemistry and agreement on frequency are matters that almost all couples face.
We just don’t throw in the towel and start looking for someone else.
But it is not always about the mechanics of the sexual act. And chemistry between two lovers is born from things that happen way before they climb into bed with each other.
Relationships are not inherently easy. We have to work at them. We have to find the right match in order to optimize success.
Two people who come into each other’s lives and commit to joining together emotionally and physically….hey that is always easy to pull off and make work for the long haul.
Eventually, the couple will go through rough patches and some bad relationship routines will begin to form.
But I am getting a little ahead of myself because to fully appreciate how you and your husband came to be where you are in the relationship, we need to turn the clock dial back again and get a sense of how things came to be.
How It All Started
Let’s assume you are a woman reading this.
Let’s say you meet a man and you fall deeply in love. Both of you adore the other. You do all the things lovers do. Sex is great. Happiness and glory is spilling out of you both. You see nothing but a great future.
This would be the beginning of the bond in which the two of you seek to become one.
Once you have invested a part of your soul into your mate, not to mention your dreams and aspirations, a bond is formed.
Hopefully you chose wisely, because like it or not, this is where you planted your flag and we all know that going back and retracing your steps to start over again is no picnic.
But in almost all marriages, these early happy days will be later followed by the days of becoming the married drones.
What was that?
What is that, you might ask.
Let me make it clear. I am not a pessimist.
But in my experience, almost every couple goes through various marital stages, with the drone period of marriage being the most common.
The best way I can demonstrate this is taking you through an imaginary stream of consciousness.
So imagine that the excitement of the married life you first entered into, sort of peels away and gives in to the steady, drone like beat of:
“wake up, it’s another day, let’s get on with our morning chores. Let’s get dressed and go to work. Who is dropping off the kids. Why do I always feel rushed for time? I still don’t feel good about what he said last night. I am pushing that out of my mind right now. Goodness, it’s already time to go. Let me quickly grab a hug and kiss. Off we are to the races.”
Finally you get home and hope that you are not too tired or stressed to enjoy your evening. Then something bad happens and you say to yourself:
“Ouch, we had a bit of fight tonight. I wish things were better. He never listens and seems distant. I don’t want to talk to him anymore about this. It’s always ends up the same. I think I am getting a little angry here. Oh well, I will deal with it later. OK, let’s make some food. Gee, we are not talking much. I am feeling a little sad. He wears me out. Let’s turn in for the night. It would be nice to have some makeup sex, but I really don’t want to. I know he wants sex, but I am not feeling it. I forgot something. I am going to have to get up early to do it. Oh, look how late it is. I hope I can sleep. I wonder what he is thinking. My goodness, it’s morning already.”
So like drones or some scene in the movie Groundhog Day, we just keep reliving a lot of the same things.
Doing the same things.
Making the same little mistakes of not resolving little hurts or spending quality time with our partner and working through little resentments.
The negative entropy acting on the marriage can slowly takes its toll. Meanwhile, we just keep falling back into our regular, clockwork like routines.
As another day has dawned, we wake up to face yet another series of routines and off we go into our own little worlds only later to be joined together again, perhaps eager to see each other or possibly fearful of having to deal with an uncooperative, non-supportive spouse.
It really depends on where you are in the marriage. You could be in the happy and growing stage, the drone stage, the rebuilding stage, or god forbid, the tear it down stage.
Just know that even the best of marriages are vulnerable to each of these stages.
Because that is what we do. We are creatures of habit. That can be good or bad, depending on the act or behavior and whether the routines are healthy.
We all try to make things better, but the complexity of our lives and the sometimes fragile nature of our emotions and circumstances can take a toll on the finer workings of our marriage.
And on and on we go.
Do it often enough, without breaking the negative patterns that can too easily form, you too can become a victim of the marriage drone syndrome!
Why Do Couples Lose Intimacy – Has Sex Become a Marriage Chore?
The trajectory of your married lives can take on predictable patterns. If you keep a journal or diary, you can actually capture it. It might read, “yet another day”.
And as I explained earlier, these patterns almost always lead to a period in which your behavior within the marriage can become almost drone like.
You find yourself doing and repeating, in workman like fashion, the same kind of things.
There can be a comfort to this pattern. Your routines can bring about some efficiency. They can make you feel safe.
But they can also lead to monotony and a lack of spark in the marriage. A certain drudgery can take over and define your marriage.
The relationship can become boring. Listless. Your marriage can lack spontaneity. The things you do together can become stale, leading to a decline in the amount of time you spend together because we naturally gravitate to things that we get joy from.
So where do marriages go bad?
Well, there are lots of twists and turns that can lead to trouble.
Let’s talk about the level of sexual intimacy that should exist in a marriage
How are things in the bedroom?
How is your sex life?
Are you satisfied.
Is he touching you and pleasing you in the way you really want him to?
Do you often turn your husband away for reasons that are far too complicated to tackle here?
Does he seem to lack interest and seldom initiates?
Does he know how to turn you on, often?
Is your husband excited to be with you and do you look forward to every lovemaking opportunity?
Or do you look for ways to escape his clutches?
If there is one telltale sign of a failing marriage, it is usually when you have trouble in the bedroom.
Having really good sex with your husband or wife is usually a reflection of the quality of your marriage.
Not always, but it is a leading indicator.
If you were to take one of those many bad marriage tests or compatibility surveys you can find all over the internet, invariably one of the questions asked is how is he in bed.
OK, I admit my choice of words might be a bit indelicate. Usually a marriage assessment or your therapist will ask if you and your husband (or wife) have a satisfying sex life.
If one wishes to get really personal, questions will be asked about how often the two of you engage in sex, who initiates it, what positions you employ, and how fulfilling you find the sex act.
But if your marriage therapist is really smart, they will try to learn about what is going on with the rest of your marriage.
You see what often happens is that a couple can go along for a long time doing all those things that married couples do. Things like carving out a life for themselves, having children, pursuing individual careers, and chasing after happiness and fulfillment.
After all, that’s what we all live for when you think about it. As individuals, we seek that which can make us fulfilled and content. We pull people into our orbit that we enjoy being with.
Which of course leads us to this whole marriage thing, right!
But along the way, the relationship can get off track. Troubles emerge.
How do you patch it back together?
Where Sex Really Begins
Let’s say you are a lovely woman, filled with aspirations and anticipation of living the fullest and happiest life you can experience.
Along the way, in this journey you are taking, you meet what you think is a wonderful man. You get married and you and your husband now join together to tackle this thing we call “life”.
Now since we are all sensual creatures, we enjoy touching and being touched, both physically and emotionally. So when there are problems in the bedroom it is natural to look at things like technique and style.
I mean, yes, it’s about those things.
To get turned on and excited, there has to be a hunger and a desire and you and your husband (or wife) both need for those sexual hormones to be flowing. That certainly enhances the experience. What you do and how you do it makes a difference.
But there is something else that is even more important that has to be in place.
The trigger for great sex usually starts much earlier.
Sexual desire is only optimized if the two of you are doing the other things that makes a couple close.
What I am talking about is the importance of optimizing the emotional connection. That is what real intimacy is all about.
I am talking about practicing quality communications, offering kindness, and showing tenderness. Doing these things consistently throughout the day, each and every day, builds a foundation in which your sexuality can more easily spring forth.
One of my clients, Alice, reached out and asked, “how do I know if I’m in the right or wrong relationship if bedroom issues continue to plague us? What am I doing wrong between the sheets because I am just not into it with him. Part of me wants to, but another part just wants to get it over with. I can sense it and he can sense it and it just makes the whole thing uncomfortable. I didn’t have this problem with my other sexual partners. Why are we not clicking?”
Essentially she is looking for a way to fix intimacy issues in her marriage.
My point to her was that intimacy starts long before the couples get into bed. I asked her if she and her husband were having other issues. We discussed some of the common marriage problems that can lead to a loss of trust and an erosion in intimacy.
She told me right off what was going on. She said the whole sex act with him felt mechanical because it was.
The honeymoon phase was long over and the marriage had been rocking along for awhile now. Sex had turned into something she perceived was more of a duty and part of that was because her husband was not that interested in pleasing her physically or emotionally.
He wasn’t that much into connecting with her on a deep emotional level. When she would try to talk or even whisper to him before, during or after making love, he would hush her up and just go about his business.
Unfortunately, the intimacy issues were not just isolated to the bedroom.
They had long settled into routines in which it was just accepted that he was not going to be there for her emotionally. So it was no surprise this problem would follow them into the bedroom.
She explained that he was not a touchy or feely kind of guy. He took her for granted, seldom making her feel safe or supported when anxious times arrived.
Their life had become compartmentalized. He did his thing and she quietly suffered the pain of not having a more complete marriage.
So if you are looking for real solutions for why the two of your are not clicking in bed, you won’t necessarily find the answers in sex books.
Where do problems in the bedroom emerge?
It often starts with looking at how the couple connects in other parts of the relationship (e.g. talking, listening, supporting, empathizing, expressions of love and kindness, etc).
If these things are not in play, it can depress one’s sexual appetite. This is largely what was going on with Alice.
It isn’t strictly about satisfying your man or woman in bed. That is usually not the origins of sexual intimacy issues.
No matter how much skill you have between the sheets, if your wife (or husband) does not feel a deep underlying connection on many levels, then neither of you will come close to realizing your sexual potential as a couple.
Making Love Throughout The Day
Given the header above, you are probably thinking that I am advocating that the solution to problems in the bedroom is that you and your husband should just make love throughout the day, right?
Just get it on all the time, every day, everywhere, right?
Do it on the dinner table. Make wild, raw, crazy love on the carpet in the middle of the floor. Do it on the living room couch.
Why not just take your husband and lead him into every room in the house and just do it in every possible way you can think of.
Certainly a rapturous day of lovemaking in every way and every place is going to solve all of your intimacy issues, right?
You will feel the power of each other’s sex drive and magically everything will fall in place, don’t you think?
Well, it all sounds pretty exciting, but I kinda doubt it’s going to be the cure all.
Making love can mean a lot of things.
But it does not necessarily mean that things are going well in the relationship.
There may be be times where the two of you can turn you minds off to the relationship problems that persist and just get it on.
That is not necessarily a bad thing.
Sometimes, despite the problems that might exist elsewhere in your marriage, these kinds of sexual experiences with your husband or wife can feel really good.
I am not advocating for this kind of sexual expression.
But we should be reminded that when this happens it is our deep sexual needs and hormones that are doing most of the talking.
The more pressing reality is it doesn’t take much to depress the release of such hormones if what is going on between the two of you is not “real”.
If you and your lover are experiencing some unresolved problems in your marriage, then just know that that your sexual experience will fall short of its potential.
We all have the capability within us to consistently have a very satisfying sexual relationship with our spouse
You can get the most out of those hormones if the marriage is solid and the feelings of intimacy passing between the two of you is natural and heartfelt.
And again, when I speak of intimacy in this respect, I am not referring to sexual intimacy and arousal. But rather the little and big things you do to make the marriage work on a daily basis.
Things like avoiding conflict, helping and supporting each other, practicing random acts of kindness, showing consideration, touching and embracing each other throughout the day.
So while solving troubles in the bedroom can get complicated depending on the root cause (e.g. sexual dysfunction, erosion of trust due to an affair, lack of experience, etc), more often than not the issue arises from something very basic and critical.
Specifically, it is the ongoing repetition of simple and loving gestures exchanged between husband and wife that leads to satisfaction in the bedroom.