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I have been working with a number of wonderful military families.  It’s a stressful life — many of these couples have spent the VAST majority of their marriage with one spouse deployed and the other trying to hang in there on the home front.

Then, when the deployed spouse gets home, it’s hard.  Really hard.  And often hard in surprising ways.  One of the most common themes I hear is that, instead of having a romantic reunion, the couple finds themselves in a sexless, tense marriage.

What can you do if your marriage, no matter what the reason, feels like roommates instead of lovers? Here are a few things to try.

1.  Focus on rediscovering romance.  What made things sizzle when you first became romantically engaged?  What activities did you enjoy doing together?  What new things did you try?   Try putting down all the wear and tear and daily grind, at least for a week or two, and focus on spending fun time together.  Try something new.  Revisit an old haunt.  Ship the kids to a friend’s house for the weekend and go hiking just as a couple.   Enjoying each other’s company is an important piece of laying the groundwork to get the chemistry sizzling again.

2.  Explore concerns.  Your job, as the spouse wanting to bring the sizzle back, is to be a concerns sleuth.  Warmly, gently ask your spouse to help you understand what are the thoughts and feelings he/she has around sex these days.  Your job is to listen with open ears — even if things are hard to hear.  Your job is to make it possible for your spouse to share that they are worried that having sex will lead to a flood of uncontrollable emotions (especially likely for military spouses with PTSD) or that they find the extra pounds you put on not so attractive (very hard to hear, and very good to know!) or that they feel guilty touching you because their thoughts (or more) have strayed.  These are all hard to hear, and at the same time, understanding your spouse’s, likely very real concerns, will put you back on a path of being a TEAM to figuring out how to move forwards.

3.  Sometime NIKE has it right– just do it!  Sometimes, one spouse is just never in the mood.  It happens a lot when you’re getting older, stressed out, too busy and/or just slow-to-warm up.  Sometimes, as un-romantic as this sounds, scheduling a night, or morning, or afternoon for sex is really helpful.  When it’s “date” time, light some candles, put on music, put fresh sheets on in the bed, and, well, test what happens if you both just give it a whirl.  Then talk about what you could do on your next “date” to improve the experience for you both.

 

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