The sex-starved marriage | Michele Weiner-Davis | TEDxCU

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Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW is an internationally renowned relationship expert, best-selling author, marriage therapist, and professional speaker. Among the first in her field to courageously speak out about the pitfalls of unnecessary divorce, Michele has been active in spearheading the now popular movement urging couples to make their marriages work and keep their families together. Michele is the Director of The Divorce Busting® Center and the founder of www.divorcebusting.com. She has been a frequent guest on shows such as Oprah, 20/20, 48 Hours, The TODAY show, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, and so on. Her work as been featured in most major newspapers and magazines.

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71 thoughts on “The sex-starved marriage | Michele Weiner-Davis | TEDxCU

    1. The WANT follows the DOING. As she forces HERSELF (NOT you forcing her), she will BEGIN TO WANT IT MORE & MORE. NOW YOU GOT ME USING ALL CAPS WHEN I’M NOT EVEN MAD LOL!!!

  1. Over a half million views!  Thanks everyone for caring about this topic and watching my talk!  I appreciate it!

    1. Thank you Michele. Your talk describes what I am going through for the whole length of my short marriage. I don’t know what to do to change my situation, but my husband is aware that this is an issue for me. I don’t want to feel this way any more.

    2. Michele Weiner-Davis Fellow social worker her and wrapping up my MSW this May! Great talk! It’s awesome seeing someone in our field thinking outside of the box. I truly feel like there’s been an attack lately on the sanctity of marriage and nuclear family. Keep up the great work!

  2. I think too many times women are seen as the ones with little or no sex drive. This is simply not true, men can be just as aloof, distant and passionless in a relationship. It can be any reason but I know of so many women whose partners are just cold and in a  sexless relationship

    1. Chris West- Thank you for adding this. You are saying what much of society cannot openly acknowledge anymore in many circles. Childless women are often told they have “no excuse” not to work, even if they are older, disabled themselves l, have a disabled parent and/or spouse to care for, etc. Being a good homemaker and taking care of my husband is a full-time job in and of itself! I can’t even imagine adding kids to that mix.

      I had worked full-time since I was seventeen years old, and I certainly wasn’t forced. At age 32, I had gone back to school and also worked. Met my husband at age 35. I already had fibromyalgia, but it was well-managed in college and I thought it would continue to be. However, intense work stress brought on a vicious relapse and I had to quit working. It’s been a financial hardship but otherwise I have been so much healthier and happier since quitting work outside the home. I actually have time and energy now to thoroughly clean our home, keep up with the laundry, cook the both of us healthier meals from scratch, all things I enjoy doing AND make my husband’s life more comfortable at home. I regret not being a breadwinner from a monetary standpoint, but I can attest that many women I’ve talked to secretly wish they were able to do what I did. Many women wish they could “just” be homemakers, and resent that modern society forces them to work by making it so expensive for even two working people to live today. The pressure to work outside the home is steep, even though not working gives us time back for exercise, church activities, charitable work, longer conversations and visits with friends, deep cleaning, gardening, decorating or renovating, child-rearing (if applicable), etc.

      NO, to anyone who asks I don’t sit at home watching General Hospital or whatever. I can safely say that my husband was far better designed in temperament and energy for a job in the outside world, while I’m anointed to create a nice home and life outside of his work for us. I won’t apologize for that, as it’s an important and legitimate calling to do so.

    1. as I look around the USA at MOST couples who appear to be over 40, I can understand why he loses his sex drive after a while. He probably would leave but the legal penalties are too high, so the “solution ” is to find out why he cannot get a hard on for a woman who now looks like his twin brother!

  3. I know that the talk mentions power, but I think it’s all power – rejecting sex is way of getting back at a controlling partner. It’s hitting them where they are most vulnerable, right in the self-esteem.

  4. This Woman really has it together ,  it is really about being selfless and not selfish and giving not taking . The other thing you have to have is Balance being 50/50 or as close to it as possible . The 60/40’s or 70/30’s won’ t last long and will end up in divorce court .  Without Respect , Giving and Balance you will not have Love much less Love That Lasts !

  5. A brilliant talk, delivered with deft and sensitivity! Many guys feel wrong and are shamed for wanting sex. The description of looking up at the ceiling and feeling alone…I shake my head with disbelief of how long I lived with that feeling. Thank you Michelle for validating so many of my thoughts and feelings.

    1. Very insightful comment – it is typically men in this position though there are also women who have this awful experience of staring at the ceiling and feeling totally alone while the person you love is right next to them. Brilliant talk indeed and good insight on where to go from there. I hope you are in a better place.

  6. We need to stop forcing people to stay in sexless marriages — and loveless marriages, period. Marriage is not a moral failing. Someone is married for 30, 40 or 50 years. So what? You can work at a crappy job that long, too, so why is that an accomplishment, if those years aren’t happy ones?

    Shout out to the younger generation: divorce is not a personal failing. It will only tear your family apart as much as *you* let it. Your parents have feelings and lives of their own; they do not owe it to you to stay together. And if you really loved your parents, why would you want this anyway? I think you guys get it, though. Marry, if you like. Divorce, if you like. It’s not my business. It’s no one’s business. This comes from a blissfully happy divorced person who made the right decision. 🙂

    1. You already answered the question of who is “forcing” people to stay together when they’re an unsuitable match. Financial punishment from the court system and social pressure from a public that has a lot of bias and stigma against divorced people; if there are any children then they’ll be held hostage or used as bargaining chips.

    2. I think that marriages, like any relationship, can, and often do, simply run their course; they have expiration dates. It’s an experience, not a life sentence. Either you’re growing together or you’re drifting apart & if the latter is the case, then I feel it’s best to part ways as the relationship is no longer serving your heart & soul…even worse, it’s impeding your ability to live authentically, with or without anyone else.

      I personally don’t see the point of ‘tying the knot’ legally in the first place. You’re either committed or you’re not, wedded in spirit or not. To marry is to invite the government into an area of your life in which it has no business. Love is love; the notion of ‘legalizing it’ is preposterous, even senseless to me.

    3. Tim Farrell: Why did you marry your wife 30 years ago? What was the basis of your mutual attraction? I’ll venture to say that, to your wife’s credit, you may not be the person you are today had she not shared 3 decades of your life–& vice versa. Everyone comes into your life for a reason, some for a season, some for a lifetime. Through her you likely awakened to your true Self, able now to articulate exactly what you want precisely by living its contrast for 30 years. That in itself is a grand achievement as the alternative is to simply suffer in silence indefinitely or die inside. I believe that every relationship essentially mirrors your relationship with YOURSELF; what you see reflected in it are your own feelings about what you deserve or don’t deserve. Just follow your heart, simple as that. Everyone deserves to be happy. 🙂

  7. Withholding sex is a cruel and unusual punishment. It is absolutely insane to demand monogamy from your partner while denying the only socially acceptable source of sexual satisfaction they have access to. How fitting that the one who should love us the most can be the most cruel .

  8. I had to take breaks watching this because I couldn’t stop crying. I’ve always been the one that sought more connection, more touch, and in my marriages, it eventually ruined them both. I am older now, and hopefully wiser, but I am back in the same boat. I am trying to learn from my mistakes, be more tolerant, patient, and understanding, but I’m still having difficulty with the disconnect. Her comments about rejection hit me so hard that I still have tears sliding down my cheeks. I know he loves me, but knowing it and feeling it are completely different things. I’m asking him to watch this. I need to know I’m not alone, because it always feels as though I am.

    1. Victoria Stanley it made me cry for the same reasons. I wish I couldn’t relate to this. All the guys I’m not dating will flirt with me or hit on me but the man I’m with always seems so uninterested once the relationship gets going. It makes me feel so unattractive and not worth it

  9. I don’t want to point out any specific poster here, but I find it amazing the personal information that people disclose on YouTube.

  10. 8:10 – Wow Mary, narcissism much? There you go fellas. You get married and your needs are not even on her radar. You are the plow horse. This also reminds me of what Robin Williams once said, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.” and he had gone to his grave after killing himself because he had to pay alimony to women who looked at him and had only seen an ATM.

    1. Miss Mir I know this is an old comment – I was with my now ex husband for 29 years and thought i knew him. Believe me you DON’T know someone until they decide to divorce because they’ve been cheating on you for 2 years!!

    2. +kichigaisensei People DON’T change, and that is the problem. People all too often expect that getting married will change both them and their spouse. As you’ve pointed out, marriage often results in a misalignment of expectation and reality.

  11. My opinion has always been, if sex isn’t as important to one spouse, then the other one should be able to say, “great! Then you shouldn’t have a problem with me outsourcing it to someone else on the side, since it isn’t important” Suddenly sex becomes more important, doesn’t it? 🙂

    1. This isnt saying infidelity is ok, you guys. Its saying that mentioning infidelity as a matter of fact will often give the low desire partner a different perspective on the issue and have them reconsider their view.

    2. Exactly. I didn’t sign up to be a priest with a vow of chastity. I’ve tried open communication and asking through letters or just trying to do everything on the complaint list thinking that will lead to an improvement instead of just more complaints. The annoying thing for me is that my wife does think it would be just horrendous and hurtful if I cheated.

  12. I’ve been with my partner for twenty years. We’ve watched everyone around us split up. I think we work because we are like kids still. we curl up together every night. we watch tv, talk, spend time together. And we have sex as often as we can. We enjoy each other. I learned early on that if i want the best from my spouse, she needs me to be there. Not just in the same house but WITH her. I hit on her and flirt constantly. We both joke and laugh. We play fight. We cuddle. We talk to each other and do things for each other. Much is made of us all needing to be busy and rushing off to do things for the sake of doing them. I doubt many people at the end of their lives wish they’d been to more karate lessons, took more cooking classes etc. A lot of people wish they had more sex, and had held on to someone they love. Relationships work as long as you make each other your priority.

    1. Cleatus Sparklepants you articulate your thoughts beautifully! Bless your soul! You make love outside the bedroom with you clothes on as much as inside the bedroom as one flesh! Both are critical for an emotional connection which delights and excited!!

    1. Look I respect her effort to provide this lecture as “middle of the road” as possible but in doing so she left out some critical facts that would offend but certainly shed light on the magnitude of the problem. For instance in what percentage of married couples do the men have the lower sex drive? Is it 50%, more or less? She seemed to want to imply that it was equal but then deliberately used a story which more closely conformed to reality all the while trying desperately not turn off the female attendants.

      It seems to me also that the issue of an outside option (male or female) needed to be added to that story since most people interact with persons other than their wives and husbands and have to actively avoid temptation.

      Little pieces of reality like that would have made her model a bit more pallitable.

    2. We women are expected to take on the”masculine” to make it in the business world so much so that many can’t get back into the “feminine” at home. Being an older woman I can remember when we were made to feel like we contributed nothing to society (or to our marriages) if we chose to be stay at home moms. Since we didn’t “earn” any money we were “less than”. That idea we were “less than” kinda started the feminist movement. Now things have gone too far the other way and men are wondering what use they are!

    3. you dont get it its about LOVE and making your partner feel loved … the circle of life not who is above the other

    4. arlene packer, what you say is so true. Women are becoming more like men more and more every day (even faster than men are becoming like women), and in truth, I don’t think everyone is so happy about that. There seems to be a shift in balance, and neither gender is quite ready to deal with it, IMO.

  13. So I am the one with the lower sex drive and it didn’t help when my husband would criticize me. Fast forward to when he developed ED I thought great, he won’t bother me! I was raised by a very religious mother who believed the only reason for divorce was adultery so I told him I wouldn’t leave him because he couldn’t perform. So we had a sexless marriage for, I have to say, several years. He stayed with me maybe because he was afraid he couldn’t please another woman anyway but eventually I got tired of no physical contact. Yeah me the low sex drive one. I mustered up the courage to say I missed being touched, cuddled, kissed, etc etc. I understood he had a “problem” that was okay, he could still touch me! Long story short we are back to cuddling, even sex. Yeah there are ways even with ED. He’s happier and so am I.

    1. +arlene packer The positive response you were not willing to give to him when the shoe was on the other foot. You got lucky – perhaps now you understand what love means.

  14. It isn’t a “2 hour” period where Mary might be available for sex. It is a 2 hour period where Mary will have to be creative to come up with yet-another reason why to not have sex. John didn’t do 1 of 100 things correctly and Mary gets really great at expanding that 1 thing into the reason to not have sex and also make it into why John is terrible.

    Once you get into it, you enjoy it. And it is great for you.

    1. May not have been the case with that couple but that IS the case with several others. If you do one thing wrong out of several things that is often not specified, the sex door is closed.

  15. Thank you for this amazing video. It made me cry on a few parts. I have stopped initiating any type of physical touch or intimacy because I have been rejected so many times over the years. You are truly correct that rejection hurts and after so many times of trying I no longer want to take a chance of feeling that pain again. My wife is definitely the low libido partner and I don’t think she understands that she is the one ‘in control’ like you said. Perhaps I can find a way to get her to watch this without causing an argument.

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