Not Enough Sex in Your Marriage: The Sex Starved Marriage

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For those who are not getting enough sex in their marriage, Michele Weiner-Davis discusses some of the principles from her best selling book, "The Sex Starved Marriage."

It's been estimated that one-third of couples face issues of low libido, the impact of which is felt beyond the bedroom. Unsatisfying sexual relationships are the all-too-frequent causes of infidelity and divorce. Michele Weiner-Davis explains what to do if your spouse is not interested in sex, if your sex life is below average, or you're worried that your intimate life is going downhill.

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Transcript: Are you married to someone who's sexual desire is completely different from yours? If you are, you're not alone. Did you know that one out of every three couples has a sexual desire gap? This happens so often in my practice that I decided to write a book called The Sex Starved Marriage and I'm going to define what I mean by that, because it doesn't mean the couples aren't having sex at all. A sex starved marriage is one where one spouse is desperately longing for more, touch, more physical closeness, more sex, and the other spouse is thinking, "What is the big deal? Would you just get a life?" But to the spouse yearning for more touch it's a huge deal because it really is about feeling wanted, about feeling love, about feeling connected. And when this major misunderstanding happens in marriage what also happens is intimacy goes out the door. They stop sitting next to each other on the couch. They stop laughing at each others jokes. They stop being friends, they don't even spend time together anymore. And this truly places the marriage at risk of infidelity and divorce.

So what can you do if you're in a sex-starved marriage? I'm going to give two tips: one for the low desire spouse and one for the high desire spouse.

To the high desire spouse, speak from your heart. So often when you're feeling hurt, initially you're speaking from your heart. You're telling your feelings about feeling so disconnected, but when your spouse doesn't understand very quickly your hurt turns to anger and frustration. So now you're getting angry about the wet towel on the floor or the beer can in the den. That's not what it's really about, it's about your hurt. So go to your spouse and say, "I feel so much closer to you when we connect sexually, and lately we haven't been touching. It makes me feel distant. I want to feel closer to you. Can we please plan for more sexual intimacy? It really would make me feel so much better. Lets do it tonight."

Now for the spouse who has low desire, here's a tip that works very well all the time. Adopt the Nike philosophy, and Just Do It. I wish I had a dollar for each time someone in my practice has said to me, "you know Michele, I really wasn't in the mood for sex when my spouse made advances, but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. I had a great time!" This happens time and time again. And actually there's some science behind it. Usually when we think about the human sexual response cycle, we think about it in four stages. First comes desire. You could be doing just about anything and you have a random lusty thought and you get together with your partner and there's physical arousal. And then if your body is working right, you have orgasm. And the fourth stage is resolution meaning your body goes back to its normal resting state.

But for half of the people in the world, stages one and two are reversed, meaning that many people have to be physically aroused before their brains tell them, "I really want this. I have desire." If you happen to be one of these people, it doesn't mean that you're not sexy or you're not sexual. It just means that you're wired differently than your spouse. And if that's the case, my suggestion to you is that you're receptive to your spouse's advances, even if you're not in the mood sometimes. I often explain this concept to couples in counseling, and one time one man said to me, "that's my wife, she never seems to remember every time I approach her that she likes sex. I want her to write on her hand, "I like sex" so she remembers it for the next time."

So speak from your heart and adopt the Nike philosophy and you'll be well on your way to resolving your sexual desire gap.

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3 thoughts on “Not Enough Sex in Your Marriage: The Sex Starved Marriage

  1. You’re doing a great job Michele. I was in a sex staved marriage for 20 years. Being religious at the time made me feel guilty about my sexual desires. To cut a long story short I ended up having an affair that led to divorce. My children still give me a hard time and hold me responsible for the failure of our marriage. Living without sex was too much for me and the feeling of not being loved was insupportable. I wish I had come across this video and this kind of help many years ago.

  2. My wife won’t put her phone down long enough to listen to me speaking from the heart about our problem. Knowing that I’m less important to her than Reddit is a really awful feeling.

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