April 24, 2013

Married sex is a whole different ballgame…as if sex wasn’t complicated enough. Nothing makes a woman feel less feminine than hearing her husband doesn’t find her desirable any longer. In my practice, I’ve seen many men who begin therapy because they are worried about not being attracted to their wives any more. It is certainly a red flag but it usually doesn’t mean it is time for his wife to go on a diet or have plastic surgery.

There are many reasons why a man loses interest in sex. He may have low testosterone, which is actually common in middle age. He may be addicted to pornography, which can certainly cause problems in the marital bed. But mostly, I find men lose interest in their wives not because of how she looks…but how she makes him feel. Don’t be shocked. It’s true. Men have more than one sex organ! We know they are stimulated visually, but they also need to feel appreciated and respected. Men need to feel emotionally connected just like we do.

Ladies, you know how easy it is for us to become critical. We are trained to be responsible for the well-being of everyone in the family. We read self-help books. We watch Dr. Oz and we are usually the first ones who initiate marriage counseling. I read a study once that reported married men live longer than single men. It was a study correlating happiness with life span. I wanted to argue that happiness had little to do with it. Married men live longer because their wives make sure they see a doctor! We watch what they eat and how much. We know their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. By the time we are in our 40’s it is easy to start feeling more like his mother than his lover. Add all of this to the daily struggles of household chores, battles with the kids, stresses over money and you have the perfect storm.

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Somewhere along our journey we often grow distant with our partners. We live like roommates trying to run the corporation that is our family life. We forget how to be friends with our spouse. I’m talking about being friends…not being friendly. It is a simple equation really. The quality of your friendship with your partner determines the quality of your sex life. That’s not always true in the beginning but that is absolutely true as we mature together. That’s why I formed The Marriage Place. I have a passion for marriage. I’m frustrated and weary with the societal trend for divorce. I think we have convoluted the notion of love as something we fall in and out of like it’s beyond our control. I believe love is more than a feeling. It is a choice we make every day. But the Beatles got it wrong when they sang “Love is all you need”. It isn’t even close to being all you need. There has to be respect, trust, commitment and kindness to name a few…but beyond all of the others there has to be a healthy friendship to have a healthy, vibrant marriage.

One of the therapeutic methods I use with couples was developed by Dr. John Gottman from Seattle. His theory is based on more than 40 years of research and it is centered around the idea of building friendship as the basis for a strong marriage. I’ve seen the results of using Gottman’s methods and they are impressive…even when working with couples who have tried therapy before and thought it was hopeless. So if you are wondering where the passion has gone in your relationship, start looking at how you both spend your time together. Do you make time to have fun? Do you talk at dinner instead of texting or checking your emails? Get intentional about getting to know each other again…because it is true that love isn’t all you need.

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