No Sex In This Marriage!
by Elaine Miles M.Ed, Certified Life Strategies Coach
Are you in a sexless marriage, or practically one? Well, you may or perhaps may not be comfortable in knowing that you have plenty of company. You love your wife and are perplexed about the situation. After all, if she loved you wouldn’t she want to have sex?
Unfortunately, that is not always so. There are some very valid reasons for this great divide and I’m learning more about it all the time. I should say that at various times in my life I have and continue to fall into some of these insidious traps. I don’t think that anyone has escaped them all since the process of socialization has fostered them upon us. This list may appear to be skewed, but it is not intentional. We all are aware that men and women are extremely different in many, many ways. The numbers will never add up equally when it comes to sexuality.
- Women do not interpret sex as a valuable ingredient to a healthy relationship. They have complete faith in your love and feel that it should not depend upon sex.
- Women do not get that men are not as verbal as women and communicate their feelings through sex. It completes them and fills their need to express themselves.
- Men and women have completely different sex drives. Men can feel arousal in ways women can never begin to imagine. And “we” really are clueless about this relentless drive! We just can’t imagine the desire to have sex every day, to say the least!
- When a man is rejected a woman totally underestimates the enormity of their actions. In tantra there is the teaching that when the penis is in a vagina there is a complete circuit. The man has a positive charge and the woman has a negative charge. Without regular sex, or with the “let’s get this over with” sex, this circuit is about as strong as a light bulb about to lose its power. It is best to avoid this type of sex since eventually this hostile environment will literally suck the life force out of the man’s sex. This is a common precursor to the development of ED or PE. It is rejection at the core of one’s being.
- Men often marry someone with whom they feel safe, someone who will be loyal and make a good mother. Unfortunately, that does not bode well for desire which depends upon variety. Sexually active couples are often comfortable with various positions, using sex toys, and maintaining playfulness about sex. They value the unique closeness that only sex can bring to the relationship.
- While dating, men don’t realize how important it is to be on the same page sexually. They don’t understand that unless you take things very slowly you will not find out her true sexual identity. The waters need to be tested. If you desire adventure in the bedroom, or even outside of it, this must be discovered. If, after several dates, you cannot breech the topic of your sexual desires then maybe this is not the person for you. You may hope that “it” will work itself out, but you cannot expect her to change, (even if she was wild in the beginning).
- Many women and men have to balance the cultural teachings of the good girl vs. bad girl messages which bombard them. This is referred to as the Whore/Madonna Complex. Can she relax and like sex? If she likes it too much is she a whore? Usually, this dilemma prevents women from initiating sex or even hinting at what she does and doesn’t like. In order to challenge it requires an awareness about this subversive conflict)
- Women do not feel safe in our culture. Objectifying women whether it’s in a television commercial or pornography serve to exploit a man’s sexual desire and foster unrealistic expectations. Economic forces prey upon the marketing of women to sell everything from cars to hamburgers. The message to women is that she is not enough. This is not a safe place to be in a society. She is constantly vulnerable to the perceptions that confuse men, thus creating a vicious cycle for both partners as trust is undermined.
- Objectification causes women to hate their bodies or a part of their bodies. When female body parts are put under a microscope it causes all females – from children to adults to become hyper-aware that a certain body-type is desirable. This leads them to criticize one or more of there body parts. This then prevents a woman from totally loving and accepting her body. No one can truly enjoy sex with such a harsh self image.
- Motherhood very often decreases a woman’s libido. After bearing a child sex is often perceived as yet another task to an already overburdened mother. She is expected to make the switch from a moral role model to a seductress on a whim. It’s paramount to going from an average person to a superhero. Whether she signed up for a sexual relationship when she married is of no consequence. The baby will always come first.
- Religion and Shame. It is pervasive for both men and women when it comes to sexual freedoms. Books can and maybe have been written about how religions initiated and continue to encourage the subjugation of women. This is a mindset which women often subscribe. They want to be members of the club and obtain a sense of belonging. Here again we find no middle ground for women.
- Cultural Traditions. There are certain ethnic groups who insist that marriage comes before sex. Until it is either arranged, or the individual meets a suitable partner, ie, same social standing sex is a taboo. Many of these men and women are virgins into their late twenties and have bypassed adolescent. The developmental phase of exploration is prohibited. There aren’t many marriages that start from a latent adolescence and progress sexually, especially when the roots are buried in shame.
- Men are fearful of vulnerability. On one of the most uncomfortable states for many people is vulnerability. This is especially true for men since feelings can be extremely complex. Respect helps to smooth this insecurity. Positive messages about his efforts and accomplishments will serve to increase his sense of appreciation. Putting his partner on a pedestal (not a bad place to be) is very natural.
- Women do not feel special in our society. It’s the little things that matter. I think that stress is greatly reduced when a man takes responsibility for several household chores. A wife and mother, or a busy professional, can feel so much relief and understanding when running the household is not only her burden to bear.
- Pornography Addiction – Viewing internet porn on a steady basis has be proven to have some damaging consequences for a man when he tries to perform with a real woman. Porn Induced ED is now being recognized as a serious ailment in many scientific circles.
- Monogamy is unrealistic – With the advent of agriculture, during the Neolithic period, humans altered the egalitarian tribal cultures around the world. Aside from formal anthropological studies, the book “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality” by Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jethá illustrates this very well.
“Food surpluses made possible the development of a social elite who were not otherwise engaged in agriculture, industry or commerce, but dominated their communities by other means and monopolized decision-making” Wikipedia.
Essentially, this was the beginning of hierarchical societies and the end of equality in all realms of life, including sexuality. While there are many couples who do well as a married couple there are far too many who are suffering. The increased life expectancy has influenced this conundrum significantly.
17. Conversations Are Difficult – There are two reasons that sex is not discussed rationally in our society. One is because we have learned that is shameful to even think about let alone discuss. The other is that in order to have a discussion about complex feelings you must know how to identify them first. Here again, we are not taught how to do this.
Most of my clients cannot talk to their spouses without a defensive reaction. Overtime this deteriorates the relationship. Alyssa Siegel, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, Oregon recently wrote an article “What Is Left Unsaid”. Here are a few quotes and the link:
“The person who feels shame about inner thoughts, feelings, or external behaviors feels conflicted, and as a result tries to avoid talking about it. In a relationship, if a partner persists in pressing the discussion about such shame, there is often a conflict born of defensiveness.
…any conversation involving sex is embarrassing, awkward, and uncomfortable, and couples involving such individuals tend to find their sex lives somewhat dissatisfying. It’s hard to have pleasurable sex when you can’t talk about what you like or don’t like out of fear of being judged or of hurting your partner’s feelings. When sex feels unsatisfying, the long-term consequences can be significant. Sex can slow or stop and when this happens, and it often gets more and more challenging to talk about it or fix the problem.
Whether it is specific to sex or another topic, couples find themselves in crisis when important things go left unsaid for too long. And sometimes, repairing the damage that this does is not possible. Sometimes a person simply cannot come back from a place of their feelings and needs going unheard and unmet.”
18. My Needs Ought To Be Met – this is a new age where we are constantly receiving messages which imply that we deserve only the best in life. Everything from the newest car to the latest gadget are for you to behold. “You want a sexy lady? We’ve got lots of salacious stuff out there and you don’t have to leave your home.” Well, it looks like I’m going to be the one to say this: most people don’t have it all. But, everyone does know that and we need to hear again it once in a while. When we compare ourselves with the professionals in porn how can we not feel inferior?
When adults accept the challenges and rewards of a stable family life it can provide all of the meaning one truly needs for a life of integrity. It requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice and energy. We often have to forego the highly charged sexual desires and channel that energy into family life. It takes the same type of self-discipline that a responsible parent instills in children. Gratitude greatly helps to put these compulsions to rest. Translation: count your blessings each morning in order to keep things in perspective. I keep a scrap piece of paper on the kitchen table and list things like: people who love me, a roof over my head, work, and health, etcetera. I change it every so often so that I have the chance to recognize my other blessings. This may help you to access the strength to ignore the pervasive cultural messages, since they are instilled solely to manipulate the ethics and values needed for well-beginning. And that is truly the “God’s honest truth”. Ignore this hype and discuss it with your children. They will have an edge over the large corporations and and the programming of “never having enough” and “not being enough.”
Have conversations with your children and spouse about feelings. This will give children a valuable tool in navigating life. And, it is a powerful way to show them and your spouse that you care. Giving attention to your children is makes their mother very appreciative. This is where that former wasted energy is really needed.