Have you given up hope for your married sex life? Every marriage experiences highs and lows in the bedroom. Let’s debunk some common myths about sexless marriages to establish a more balanced view and hopefully revive the drive you’ve lost.
Myth #1: The Low Desire Partner is Hung Up About Sex
In his article, “Myths about Sexless Marriages,” Dr. David Schnarch points out that it is often the low desire partner who is more erotically inclined or sexually experienced than the higher desire partner. However, since the sex they have been experiencing has been less than amazing, they are slow to initiate more of it. According to Schnarch, “It’s the high desire partner’s desire for additional servings of lousy sex that needs to be questioned.” (crucibletherapy.com)
The Bible discourages Christians from settling for mediocre pleasures in lieu of striving for greater, biblical ones. In Philippians 3:8, the Apostle Paul says he is willing to give up anything he has for the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” The earthly pleasures he had were easier to obtain, but he was willing to forgo them for the sake of a greater satisfaction – a relationship with Jesus. Sexual dysfunction is similar. You may be content to settle for what you have, but consider the level of intimacy you could achieve by pinpointing and remedying the causes for your current, mediocre sex life.
Myth #2: Unmarried Couples Have More Sex than Married Couples
It may seem that younger or unmarried couples are having more sex than older, married couples, but that’s not actually the case. According to Dr. Schnarch, “Research says the marital bed is still the hot bed of sex. Married couples are more likely to have more sex, and more varied sex than single people.” (Intimacy & Desire 34) (crucibletherapy.com) It just seems as if younger couples are having more sex because the chemical euphoria during the beginning of a relationship is so intense. This period is often followed by a lull only because the brain’s honeymoon chemistry has naturally dissipated, not because the intimacy of the marriage has deteriorated. One of the many reasons marriage is beneficial is that the evolution of a relationship forces people to develop a sense of self and refine how they interact with their partner. Without these essential steps forward in personal development, people will never have the superior sex that Schnarch says belongs almost exclusively to long-term, monogamous partners.
Myth #3: It’s Impossible to Rekindle Desire After it Dies
Let’s start by pointing out that “Sexual desire problems are a normal and healthy midpoint in the evolution of a relationship and the people in it.” (Intimacy & Desire 37) If you or your spouse struggle with a lack of sexual desire, be encouraged by the fact that it’s a normal frustration, and more importantly, one that can be overcome.
One reason that married sex tends to become boring is because couples have what Schnarch calls “leftovers sex.” “Leftovers sex” is what happens when each partner rules out all the things that make them uncomfortable, and the couple does whatever option is left. No matter how often you have sex, after a few years, you will have gone through your playlist more than once.
In order to combat this boredom and the resulting lack of sexual desire, one partner may have to do something they’re not immediately comfortable doing. The notion of introducing something sexually novel and the likely awkward resistance that accompanies it will prove fruitful in the end. As Schnarch explains, “The relationship in which you seek refuge pushes you to develop a more solid self, like pushing toothpaste out of a tube by progressively winding the other end.” (Intimacy & Desire 37)
One of the only ways in which spouses can rekindle sexual desire is by examining themselves and the ways in which they contribute to the relationship’s problems. Rekindling desire is difficult because it often requires spouses to do the very thing they have been putting off – enduring an uncomfortable situation. If avoiding discomfort is what leads couples to this crossroad, then accepting that discomfort is the only thing that will move them through it. As Schnarch explains, “Every step involves mastering your anxiety rather than having no anxiety at all.” (Intimacy & Desire 175)
As Christians, in order to become more like Christ, we must be prepared to endure adversity. Struggle is essential for our sanctification – just flip through the New Testament if you disagree. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV) These verses reinforce Schnarch’s teaching that marriage was created by God to strengthen integrity. To rekindle the romance, passion, and desire in your marriage, be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Who knows? You might be pleasantly surprised by the result.
Myth #4: You Can’t Make Yourself Feel Desire
“Desire is a capacity you can develop. It’s not simply a biological drive. But it’s not as simple as removing sexual hang-ups or increasing your libido. It’s about increasing your capability… Increasing your sexual desire is not just about wanting sex. If that were the case, desire problems would be simpler. Human sexual desire is about desiring your partner, and not just desiring sex, per se.” (Intimacy & Desire 182)
If you’re lacking sexual desire within your marriage, take a step back and ask yourself, “Is there something about my spouse that is keeping me from desiring him or her right now? Am I irritated with him or her for some reason?” A temporary irritation does not mean you’ve lost all capability of desiring your spouse in the future. Try to pinpoint the source of the conflict and seek to remedy it as soon as possible for the sake of restoring marital oneness with your spouse.
However, trouble within the marriage relationship is not the only factor that can sap a person’s sex drive. A decreased sexual desire can occur for many reasons – perhaps you’re on a new medication that has undesirable side effects, or you have a temporary medical condition that has altered your hormones. Sometimes you are just so busy that sex feels like just one more thing you have to do. If this is the case, Schnarch recommends viewing sex as an occasion, much like you would for a weekend away. “There are lots of things you can do to get yourself in the mood for sex. For example: lose that extra ten pounds, let yourself fantasize in advance, take a nice bath, or wear sexy underwear that make you feel hot.” (crucibletherapy.com)
Sex Therapy with a Christian Counselor
If you or your spouse are struggling with desire or sexual concerns in your marriage, make an appointment with a professional Christian marriage counselor. Sexual problems do not just go away. You need to address them and work through the issues if you want your marriage to not only survive, but to thrive. God designed sex, not just for procreation, but to be a source of joy and union between spouses. Find a professional Christian marriage counselor in Spokane who can help you rediscover the pleasure of intimacy.
Dr. David Schnarch’s works, “Myths About Sexless Marriages” from CrucibleTherapy.com and “Intimacy & Desire.”
“Anticipation,’ courtesy of ErikaWittlieb, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Cozy,” courtesy of Pexels, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Loving Nature,” courtesy of Harli Marten, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License