If you haven’t seen “Business Time” by the comedy band Flight of the Conchords, please go watch it right this minute. It’s a parody of boring, routine married sex, and it makes me so happy to laugh and relate.
One of the most common problems couples discuss with me in my therapy office is the loss of desire for sex after several years of marriage and kids. Wifey has just lost interest and doesn’t want to initiate or be initiated with, while hubby feels rejected, neglected and wonders where his fun-time partner went.
The possible reasons for decline in sexual desire are absolutely myriad – ranging all the way from gluten to his critical mother. But where do you even begin figuring out what’s getting in your way?
Over the next few months I’m going to be writing about the gentle business of helping you get back on that horse, I mean cowboy. (I would say “I’m sorry” in advance for all the sex jokes I’m going to make but I wouldn’t mean it from my heart … so “you’re welcome.”)
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we will explore some of the particulars that may be impeding your drive. I’m going to unpack each of these, one at a time, in detail – all in good time.
The Judges in Your Head
From the conceptual, “good girls don’t have sex,” to the idealized, “awesome wives are cool with it if you wake them up for sex.”
Judges can be actual critical voices from your past, like rigid parents or cruel exes, and they can play obsessively on repeat in your brain. What are your automatic, unexamined thoughts around sex? How are they shutting you down from the fun?
Healing From Sexual Trauma
Could be any sort of abuse, assault or rape. According to the U.N. Development Fund for Women and lastbattle.org, worldwide, 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. All non-consensual sexual encounters hurt. And they pollute the waters of your autonomous sexual desire. I LOVE walking alongside women toward seeing, understanding, caring and advocating for themselves to reclaim safety, freedom, power and joy in their sexuality.
Dealing With Missing an Ex
Even though you’re married to a great dude, you may be plagued by thoughts of a past relationship. Yikes, I know it feels icky and awkward but that’s the stuff I love to talk about. Why? Because FREEDOM is on the other side of facing what we are avoiding.
“I hate my belly, C-section scar(s), calves, skin-tone, boobs, hair …” Even just typing those cruel, short-sighted, neurotic words brought me pangs of sorrow. I want to help you feel the same way. We must, must, must stop hating and picking apart our precious, miraculous flesh.
Dream for a moment that you think your body is awesome … that your husband is stoked about looking at you. See yourselves smiling and laughing together.
Bravely putting your sexual preferences into words can be extremely vulnerable. Doing new stuff together may be scary and overwhelming.
Lack of Connection
Roommates, teammates, ships passing … When you’re good at juggling the routine and to-do list but not the romance-kindling emotionally intimate bonding activities of really connecting and sharing.
Lack of Respect
Poor character is a huge turn off. Addiction, immaturity, poor work ethic, integrity issues and pornography use all contribute to a wife feeling more like her husband’s mother, boss or police officer (NOT a sexy police officer).
Waiting to Feel Desire
… And waiting and waiting and waiting. Often a woman won’t even feel desire until half way through the act of intercourse. Women can really panic over feeling a lack of desire when it may not be a huge problem after all.
Please always remember that you are a unique individual who has never before existed, never will again, and only you get to experience your distinctive temperament, your history and your marriage. Sift all encouragement about changing anything in life through your own wisdom and discernment. I’m hopeful we can all add a bit more fun, joy and connection to this season of our lives.
Kelley Gray has been a private practice psychotherapist in the Denver area for 14 years. She is passionate about promoting growth, healing and making messes with her daughters. You can connect with her at kelleygray.com.