Dear Is This Normal,
I love my husband and we’ve been married for 15 years (I’m 46 and he’s 52). It’s been 13 months since we’ve had sex. I feel like I’m always throwing myself at him. I feel rejected by him. What am I doing wrong? Is age a factor here?
Dear Drying up,
First off, you can’t blame yourself—it takes two to tango. Being in a sexless marriage can be frustrating and depressing. In non-pandemic times (remember those?), it’s estimated that about 15 to 20% of marriages are going through a no-sex stage. Throw in sheltering-in-place, being together 24/7, and a global pandemic—this number has probably spiked. There are different factors that can push a couple to put intimacy on the backburner, and stressful life events is one certainly of them.
Missing the intimacy that an active sex life brings in a marriage can be embarrassing when you feel you are the only one trying to change it. According to experts, even though age can be a factor, it’s certainly not the only factor. As a mom of two under five in my mid 30’s, I can attest to that! My kids often take over our bed, time, and energy. The reality is that a dry spell is way more common than we think and it’s likely just a stage.
Sex therapists and marriage counselors both agree that the process to rekindle sex starts with honest and difficult conversations. I know this can be intimidating and the thought of bringing it to your spouse probably makes you feel vulnerable..and maybe even just plain silly! But you are not alone. These conversations will help your marriage and your partner has probably noticed the decline too. There is an immense amount of growth and intimacy bonding that happens when we have these conversations, so working through this rough patch can be an opportunity to start over, stronger.
How do we start? Of course, you can always reach out to a marriage counselor or sex therapist to help guide you through, but there are some strategies for working on it on your own. Start by expressing how you feel or reminiscing on a steamy vacation. Talking about a time when sex was frequent will allow you to value what you had and acknowledge you want to get it back. Laugh at the times you almost got caught or better yet, you did! Share your best daytime sex memories, the fun quickies and careless nights (remember those?). Sex was fun and it can be better as you keep discovering each other—no matter your age. The point here is to simply validate your feelings, get them out in the open, and acknowledge that you’re missing your partner’s lovin’.
After the conversation, you can shift towards getting it on…sorta. First, stop worrying about if, and when, you’ll have sex, and focus on spending quality time together instead. I know this can be hard to come by in pandemic-times, but even taking the time to watch your favorite after the kids are in bed can do the trick.
You know those couples on the news who have been married for 60+ years? They talk about quality time, and yet some of us rookies (me included!) still dismiss it. If need be, make changes around your house or to your schedules so you can spend down time with your partner. Maybe this means scheduling a weekly “date night” in your backyard, turning off your cellphones, putting the kids to bed early, or even getting in a morning workout together.
Remember, we’re not focusing on sex right away. A good laugh, holding hands, cuddling or even a PG-13 make out session can help you get back into your zone. As you reconnect with your partner, sex will come naturally, but don’t let it dampen your spirit if you’re not heading into the bedroom after night one.
Don’t mourn the good old days—your soon-to-be new sex life can be much better than it was before. Once you start making love again, don’t be discouraged if it’s not the big O you’ve been dreaming of all these months. Frequency will make it better, and trust will ease the pressure. If there is one place that can be a fun, stress-free, mistakes-allowed zone, let it be your bedroom!
From sexless to best sex,
Is This Normal