Marriage is a union that promises a mental, physical, and spiritual connection for the couple hoping to live "happily ever after." This may be true in the beginning during the hormone-crazed honeymoon phase. Love is called a drug after all, but what happens after the flames of desire start to flicker? How do you rekindle that spark, fan the flames and keep the embers burning?
Sara Dimerman has over 25 years of experience counselling couples on marital matters and sex is a big part of a healthy relationship. On a similar note, my husband and I have 25 years of experience being married to each other and yes, an active sex life does play a big role in our staying together for so long! Sara, aka "HelpMeSara" has undoubtedly "heard it all" over her career and she has discovered some tips and tricks to share with couples experiencing diminished desire in the bedroom and beyond. Her new book "Why Married Couples Don't Have Sex... At Least Not With Each Other!" is full of sage advice, insights, examples, and resources for couples who want some answers to their waning sex life.
The epiphany for writing this book came to me while facilitating a discussion on Life After Baby to a group of moms with new babes after their salsa dancing class. The discussion kept leading back to their sex lives and how much this had changed since becoming pregnant or having the baby. Some talked about how bodily changes kept them from wanting to be intimate with their partners. Some talked about being legitimately tired or not wanting to give any more of herself to another human being. Listening to their lively discussion, along with all the stories I had heard about the lack of sex between married couples in my practice over 25 years, inspired me to write this book.
What is the definition of a sexless marriage?
A sexless marriage is generally defined as one in which the couple has sex less than ten times a year.
In your practice counselling couples do you find diminished sexual desires to be at the root of marriage breakdown or is the lack of sex more a symptom of bigger issues?
This is a vicious cycle. Typically, specific issues in a marriage (boredom, body weight issues, feelings of anger or resentment, changes in either being able to perform as he or she once did, for example) lead to diminished sexual desire. In turn, the diminished sexual desire often leads to huge sexual or relationship discontentment and sometimes to the marriage breaking down as in one partner escaping into the arms of another lover and/or divorce.
Is it common for couples to finally address their marital discord only after discovering infidelity or when facing the threat of a separation? Is there any hope for couples who find themselves in these situations?
I believe that where there is life, there is hope - even when couples find themselves in critical situations that they are sure they wont be able to survive. Some partners say that his or her spouses betrayal actually opened his or her eyes to how unhappy they were and forced them to address the issues so that they could get back on track towards a much better relationship. So, yes, sometimes it takes the threat of a separation or infidelity for a couple to finally address their marital discord.
What advice do you have for someone who wants help with their marriage and sex life but their partner is oblivious, dismissive and/or refusing to attend counselling sessions?
This is a tough situation but since it takes both partners commitment and motivation to change, the prognosis for this couple may not be great. If a partner refuses to attend counselling, he or she should know that without being present to share his or her position, his or her partner may make unilateral decisions that will ultimately affect them both. If a client in an unhappy marriage has no choice but to come in to see me alone, I try to help my client figure out what the roadblocks may be towards change. There is usually a reason that a partner does not want to change or address the issues and I uncover all of the reasons in chapter thirteen of my book entitled "When things don't improve".
Outside of married couples, who else could benefit from reading "Why Married Couples Don't Have Sex"?
Mostly any couple who is living together. I'd like to say all couples but I feel that dating couples experience their relationship and sex in a different way than couples who are living together or married.