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When the Thrill Is Gone

You can still rekindle passion and improve your sex life in a low-sex marriage.
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“Sometimes too much closeness stifles desire,” says Esther Perel, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Manhattan and author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. “Separateness is a precondition for connection. When intimacy collapses into fusion, it is not a lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire," she tells WebMD.

Don’t call each other ten times a day, she cautions, and don’t ask each other about every little thing. “These questions turn intimacy into surveillance.”

Dealing with Alienation and Anger in a Low-Sex Marriage

Sometimes a man’s lack of desire is really about something else. “In those situations there is often something going on that is unexpressed or unknown, says Mark Epstein, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in Manhattan and the author of Open To Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life.

Most often, Epstein says, that lack of attraction stems from anger. Perhaps your anger is misplaced; perhaps you are angry at her because you are not attracted to her. You can get to the source of your anger and beyond in therapy. But getting down to getting down is the relationship equivalent of advanced physics.

“You have to be able to experience conflicting feelings, or difficult feelings,” says Epstein of the rapprochement process. “If you are holding yourself back all the time, you don’t have to face what you might be feeling. But if you get close to her in bed, if you get aroused, there might be a lot of conflicting stuff that comes up. You want to be with her, you want to make her happy -- but you are angry with her.” To get past the anger, and on to the fun part, you have to be willing to let down your guard, and let love in.

Improving Your Sex Life: Anticipation Instead of Spontaneity

There’s nothing wrong with candles and baths -- or, for that matter, lingerie and scented oils. “Those are all stand-ins for the little signals most couples have,” says Epstein. “Most couples’ signals are subtler: being in bed and awake at the same time, reaching out to one another on a weekend morning, making some gesture.”

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