According to marriage experts, there are probably more fireworks going on outside the bedroom than inside.
Data collected from the 2014 General Social Survey indicates that married couples have sex approximately 58 times a year. If you are under 30, however, it’s around 111 times. Approximately 15 percent of married couples haven’t made love with their spouse in the last six months to a year.
In a TEDx talk, therapist Michele Weiner-Davis describes this phenomenon as the sex-starved marriage. It's a marriage where one spouse is longing for more touch and passion and the other is thinking, “What is the big deal, it’s just sex?”
“When disconnect happens in a marriage, intimacy on all levels goes out the window,” says Weiner-Davis, whose life work is to help resurrect flat-lined marriages. “These couples are the ones who have stopped laughing at each other’s jokes, sitting next to each other on the couch, holding hands or looking into each other’s eyes.”
Many people automatically assume that all men think about is sex. But according to Weiner-Davis, low sexual desire is as much an issue for men as it is for women; it’s just a well-kept secret.
Weiner-Davis says it is not uncommon for even long-married couples to never discuss sex.
In a session with Weiner-Davis, a husband of 15 years shared that there is only a two-hour window on Friday night when his wife might be interested in sex. He turned to his wife and said, “When I reach out to you in bed and you aren’t there for me, the only thing I think about is, do you find me attractive anymore, do you still love me, do you want to be with me? I lie awake thinking at night that this is the loneliest place to be.”
Surprised, his wife responded that all she ever considered was whether or not she was in the mood. Never had she ever thought about what it must be like to be in his shoes. This was the beginning of a breakthrough in their marriage. But, Weiner-Davis cautions that it doesn’t work this way for all couples.
“It’s interesting that couples share decision-making on so many things. But when it comes to sex, one person makes the decision and expects the other person to accept it, not complain about it, and be monogamous,” Weiner-Davis says.
Weiner-Davis contends that the primary cause of a sex-starved marriage is easy to fix. A few basic changes can help you move from little sparklers to fireworks in the bedroom:
Everybody has different ways of feeling connected to one another. You need to become an expert in making your mate feel connected to you.
If your spouse wants sex more often than you do, don’t delude yourself into thinking, “It’s just sex.” Sex is a powerful way to connect.
When you understand your spouse’s way of connecting, you don’t have to agree with it or understand it. You just need to do it.
Healthy marriages require mutual caretaking. Take care of each other. It is an act of love.
“When we learn to be better caretakers of each other, we will make this world a better place one marriage at a time,” Weiner-Davis says.