Tag Archives: improving sexual intimacy in marriage

Possible Solutions for Low Libido?

Recently, Kate and Brad Aldrich of One Flesh Marriage had an insightful post called, “Do I want the libido fairy to visit?” I would suggest reading it in full, but I will share a few highlights here. Those who have a lower libido usually fall into two groups: those who would like their libido to increase, and those who aren’t sure they do. This is most clearly addressed to wives who usually have a lower libido than their husbands, but there are also couples in which the woman has a higher libido than her husband.

For those who would like that libido fairy to visit, suggestions include:

  • Make time to switch gears after work or after parenting responsiblities.
  • Allow yourself time to think about your husband in a sensual way.
  • Give yourself plenty of warm-up time, in particular before declining your hubby’s advances. (You might be more in the mood than you think.)
  • Have sex more frequently (suggested 2-3 times a week) and see if that helps.

Of course there are plenty of individuals who are just fine without having sexual intimacy in their marriages. Generally their spouses are not OK with this, and deep division can occur as a result. If you are in the camp that low libido is not something you want to improve, Kate and Brad suggest:

  • Determine the root cause of your lack of sexual intimacy.
  • Seek medical advice, as there is often a medical reason, such as hormone levels that are off. Many medications, including birth control, affect libido levels. Couples may have to decide whether low libido is simply a symptom they have to live with or whether medication changes can be made.
  • If seeking medical information does not lead to answers, they suggest counseling (marriage counseling with either a trusted pastor or a Licensed Christian Counselor, trained in Christian sex therapy). “There could be a past history of sexual abuse, past hurts from previous sexual relationships, past or present addictions, wrong feelings about sexual intimacy in general and so on.”

Lastly, Kate and Brad suggested we need to make our marriages a higher priority. I completely agree that so much often seems more important than making time for intimacy. The connection that sexual intimacy brings feeds the marriage. Without it, the marriage is slowly starved of that connection. 

Few couples have very similar libido levels. Add to that various stresses and responsibilities, and open and sensitive communication becomes critical. Are you working to bridge the gap, or trying to ignore any differences?

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com

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Survey Shows American Couples are Too Sleep Deprived for Sex

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

Last week, the CBS Early Show reported on a new sex survey of married Americans with children. The study found 70 percent of respondents were too sleep deprived to make love after a full day of work, including jobs, parenting and home responsibilities. Watch the story here.

The survey showed couples under age 30 or in the honeymoon phase of their relationship had sex approximately two to three times week. Those over 30 had sex about once a week. Over age 60, they had sex about once a month. After sharing all these stats, they advised not comparing yourselves to other couples.

The show’s psychologist says she is hearing “I’m just too tired” from many more couples. She says three things affect the quality of your love life—first, health and hormones; second, how tired you are; and third, how happy the relationship is. A problem in any area will mean the sex life won’t be as great.

She advised couples need to prioritize time to get to know one another and connect. Here are the tips shared:

  • “Skip the trip to the mall” and other non-essential errands.
  • Remember that having sex re-energizes the body and the libido.
  • Take the time to be together.
  • Get up a half hour earlier and start the day making love instead of trying to find the energy at the end of the day.
  • Make your marriage, not your kids, the priority.
  • Get more sleep; it affects every area of your life.
  • Take an occasional day off to sleep instead of going away on vacation.

I thought the suggestions were useful, other than the last one, which is probably not realistic for most people. However, perhaps going in to work an hour or two late on occasion may be more doable than taking the whole day off to sleep. The other tip I would add is to trade childcare with friends who have children so you can have a night out (or in).

What suggestions do you have for fighting exhaustion and making your marriage a top priority?

Related Links:

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat discusses why monogamy still feels good in today’s world. He also shares a few details from a new survey that shows virginity is increasing among those aged 14 to 22. I thought he had an interesting take on monogamy as a separate issue from morality. His article was reprinted in papers across the country last week.

Photo credit:©Yuriy Poznukhov/PhotoXpress.com

How to Improve and Increase Sex in Your Marriage

“Keeping the Spark Alive” Series

There are many ways to maintain romantic sparks, but many of us are clearly not making time or effort for romance.

I recently reviewed some ongoing survey results at the Crucible Institute, founded by David Schnarch, PhD, author of Passionate Marriage. (The web site offers relationship advice to awaken your passion and feelings of intimacy.) The incomplete survey—which already includes thousands of participants—reported that 12 percent of those surveyed in relationships had not had sex in the last year. More than 20 percent more only had sex a few times in the last year. It’s not that married couples should reach a certain magic number per week, but these statistics show many couples are having major problems in the area of sharing sexuality.

How do we keep from becoming merely roommates, or liven things up if you could use a little romantic boost?

Fill the Emotional Needs Bucket
Reuters reported early this month that three out of ten people surveyed who were in a relationship more than five years say they never receive any compliments from their partners. Recalling that it takes five positive interactions for every one interaction to maintain a positive relationship, couples are certainly missing out on a lot of positivity. (Read the details of the 5:1 ratio.)

Find something each day for which you can genuinely compliment your spouse—whether it’s something they’ve done well at work or at home, a physical quality you appreciate, or another trait you find endearing. Keep in mind, men as well as women like to hear that you are physically attracted to them. While women may receive compliments about their hair or dress, men aren’t likely to get this kind of feedback from friends or coworkers. (That would be a little awkward to hear, “Dude, love that tie, where did you get it?” from another guy.)

Having plenty of physical touch throughout the day, spending 15 minutes each day connecting with one another, and listening to one another will go a long way toward filling each other’s emotional buckets. Be open about your fears and desires, and talk about your dreams for the future.

Fill the Physical Needs Bucket
The obstacle that I hear about most often for romance is being too tired—or even chronically exhausted. Women’s Day reported this month that 41 percent of married women would choose an extra hour of sleep over sex with their husband. (Not so surprising, is it?) With so many dual-career families, child rearing responsibilities, sports and extracurricular activities for older children, daily chores and more, it’s not surprising so many people are drained. Sleep difficulties, especially as we age, can add to the challenge of feeling rested. Couples who go to bed at different times can create additional challenges, because the sleeping partner is not likely to want to wake up for romance once they are asleep.

Suki Hanfling, certified sex therapist, says in the Women’s Day article, if you’ve been dragging all day, “waiting until bedtime to have sex almost guarantees no nookie.” She suggests choosing a time when you’re more awake, such as in the mornings or on the weekend after a nap. Yes, you may even have to schedule sex to make sure it happens.

If your partner is the one who is over-tired, and you are hoping to increase the amount of hanky-panky, figure out a way for him or her to get a nap. If one of you is chronically exhausted, it’s time to consider revamping your responsibilities or visiting the doctor. Avoid telling yourselves that “these are the difficult years when we have young children, and it will get better when the kids get older.” While that may be true to some extent, you need to prioritize your sex lives now, before you lose touch with one another.

Hanfling suggests you don’t have to be turned on to do the deed. A Penn State survey showed even women who had lost their desire said that when they did have sex, they enjoyed it. “Be open to each other’s advances and communicate, in a loving way, what feels good.”

The Woman’s Day article, Put the Spark Back Into Your Marriage at Any Age, has a lot of helpful advice from several experts for couples as they age.

Prioritize–Reignite or Keep Fire Burning
I think it’s important to mention that it’s generally easier to keep your romantic flames burning (or at least flickering) than it is to reignite them once the fire has gone cold. That is not to say that it’s impossible, but you may need to give yourselves more time to get back in the groove. Some couples may need outside assistance to help them reconnect if sex has been long absent from their marriage.

If you’re looking to open up communication about intimacy, I recommend reading Hot Monogamy together and taking the surveys together. At a minimum, start the conversation (without blame) about how you miss being with your partner the way you used to be.

What will it take for you to keep the romantic sparks going in your marriage, or to reignite them if they’ve gone out? Are you and your partner open to reevaluating your priorities and lives to make sure there’s some time for intimacy?

Related Link:
Help for the Sex-Starved Wife, this Time Magazine interview with Michele Weiner-Davis shares invaluable information for women who have a higher sex drive than their husbands.

Read Refinding Intimacy from Anonymous8’s blog about the dry spells that most couples go through. Guest poster Julie Sibert says, “After all, it’s not ‘sex’ that mows the yard, signs the permission slips or feeds the dog.  Sex seems like such a ‘negotiable’ – and everything else that ‘has to be done’ screams a bit louder.  The irony to it all is that nurtured sexual intimacy actually better equips a couple to ‘do life together.'”

Photo credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

Achieving Intimacy in Marriage

In my reader survey, one of the most popular topics was to learn more about maintaining intimacy in marriage. Often, that’s another way of saying, “How do we keep the spark alive?” But intimacy goes much further than the physical. I’m a firm believer of understanding the importance and depth of intimacy between a husband and wife.

By achieving intimacy, I’m talking about the concept of two people learning how to be vulnerable and “known” to one another and learning how to love one another fully. A blog I read regularly is Journey to Surrender, and Scott has some very helpful things to say in his post “What is intimacy?”.

He explains the progression of intimacy from spiritual intimacy to emotional intimacy to physical intimacy (including sex and non-sexual touching). When we start at one end and work toward physical intimacy, it creates a deeper bond and often a heightened physical experience (because the mind and emotions are participating). Scott has a lot more to say on the topic and provides a definition similar to my own: “Genuine intimacy comes from being fully known and completely loved.” Basically, we are free to be ourselves, and are loved without fear of rejection or judgement. That’s the really cool part of intimacy.

In a different post, Scott reminds us of the old adage that many of us find to be true in our marriages–that women need emotional intimacy as a prerequisite for physical intimacy, and men usually prefer the opposite order. Different individuals also view their needs for intimacy differently. So, it’s certainly worth discussing with your spouse after reading Viva La Difference, which explains the fruits of selfless giving, a way for you both to get your needs met without falling into the give-to-get routine, which is at best, difficult to sustain, and at worst, a road to resentment if your needs are not perfecty met.

Next week, I’ll be discussing 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Your Marriage by Tony & Alisa DiLorenzo, who describe other types of intimacy and means to achieve it. If you’re not yet a subscriber, just enter your email address in the right hand column of my home page, and you’ll get updated automatically. (Cancel anytime with one click.)

What do you think of when you hear “intimacy”? Is it long talks over candlelit dinners, sparks flying under the sheets or sharing spiritual insights together? Is it something different? How do you achieve true intimacy in your marriage?