‘Dear Lisa — My Sexless Marriage Is Killing Me!’

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‘Dear Lisa — My Sexless Marriage Is Killing Me!’

Dear Lisa,

I am at my wit’s end and desperately need your guidance. My sexless marriage is killing me, both emotionally and mentally. My wife and I used to have a fulfilling and passionate sex life, but over time, it has dwindled to almost nothing. Despite my efforts to communicate and address the issue, she seems disinterested or unwilling to engage in sex, and she’s even been pulling away from affectionate moments. 

The lack of physical connection in our marriage leaves me feeling lonely, unloved, rejected, and deeply frustrated. I find myself questioning the strength of our relationship and whether there is any hope that things can get better. I’ve tried initiating conversations about our sexless marriage, but my wife either brushes off the topic or becomes defensive. I brought up marriage counseling, but she says we don’t need it and she’s hurt that I think we do. I don’t want to pressure her, but I also can’t continue to ignore the significant impact our lack of intimacy is having on my wellbeing. 

I feel trapped in a marriage that lacks the warmth and closeness I crave. Please, can you offer any advice?

Sincerely,

Physically and Emotionally Stranded

Dear Stranded,

I want to thank you for your vulnerability in sharing what’s happening in your marriage. It takes courage to acknowledge and seek help for issues that are so deeply personal and sensitive, so I commend you for taking this step. 

I also want to let you know that what you’re experiencing is more common than you may realize. Research shows that around 7 percent of married couples in the US haven’t had sex in the past year, while about 4 percent haven’t had sex in the past five years. When one partner isn’t content with the lack of sex, the pain and frustration can be significant. Many couples need to work with a good sex therapist to get to the root of the issue, discover how much change is possible, and find their path forward. 

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I also want to acknowledge that the pain of a sexless marriage (or a nearly sexless marriage) goes much deeper than sexual frustration. It’s also about feeling emotionally connected, desired, and cared for. Many men feel loved primarily through physical affection and sex. And when physical intimacy dies, emotional intimacy can as well. 

You deserve to be in a relationship where you feel connected in all the ways you want to feel connected, and where your physical and emotional needs are met. And, there is a good chance that this is possible in your marriage — if your partner is willing to engage with you, take this seriously, and get help for your relationship.

All couples go through periods where they’re having sex rarely or not at all. Sometimes these dry spells extend for months or even years. And, this is often a source of conflict, especially when one partner has a higher sex drive than the other. Communicating about it, getting to the root issues, and finding ways to reignite the spark are all part of the natural cycle of ebb and flow that every long-term couple must navigate. 

But that system has broken down in your marriage. You’re not coming back together, you’re only getting further and further apart. Clearly, one obstacle is your wife’s reluctance to talk with you about sex, and her refusal to see a marriage counselor. She’s avoiding the problem rather than addressing it, and she’s even starting to avoid affectionate moments that have the potential to turn sexual (this is a common dynamic in sexless marriages known as the bristle reaction). 

These are warning signs that your marriage is in trouble, much more so than how often you’re having sex. I want to encourage you to continue insisting to your wife that you book an appointment with a marriage and family therapist who specializes in sex therapy. I have an article that will help you figure out how to have the conversation with your wife about couples counseling, and an article about what to expect in marriage counseling that can hopefully allay some of her anxiety. 

There are many possible causes of a sexless marriage, and I can’t say what’s going on in your relationship without knowing more about your situation. But this can be deep, emotionally fraught territory, and working through it together may take you into areas that you’re not expecting. Old relational wounds, unresolved conflict, past traumatic experiences, feeling emotionally disconnected, body image issues, or even dissatisfaction with your usual “sex routine” are all possible factors behind a “low sex-drive.” 

When you understand what exactly is going on in your marriage, then you can begin addressing it. But your wife has to be willing to go there with you, Stranded, and there’s clearly something blocking her. Removing that block is the first step. Remember that, just as this is about more than “just sex” for you, it’s also about more for her. Her reasons for not wanting to have sex are as emotionally complex as your need to have sex. Have empathy for your wife and seek to understand her. 

Most of all, hold onto hope. I know that it feels like you’ve tried everything, but I believe that if you get the opportunity to do this work the right way, it will bring you closer to your wife. Facing the darkness together and then climbing your way back toward the light has a way of deepening intimacy, both physical and emotional. 

Wishing you strength, healing, and deep connection.

With love, 

Lisa 

P.S. — You can find more free articles and podcast episodes in my dating advice content collection. I hope you’ll check it out!

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Lisa Marie Bobby: All relationships go through dry spells, but when couples stop having sex and it goes on for a while, it threatens much more than a physical connection. Dead bedrooms can do real damage to emotional intimacy that can show up in other parts of the relationship and create barriers that make it even more difficult then to rekindle a satisfying sex life.

So it needs And on today’s show, we’re talking about sexless marriages and how you and your partner can find your way back together again.

We’re listening to Mr. Airplane Man. This is the song. Do you want to hang out? Which I thought was a, um, appropriate choice for you. For our mood music today, because it talks about that, uh, desire, but uncertainty, I might get shot down. And that’s kind of how it feels when you and your partner have not been together for a while and, and you’d really like to reconnect, but feel like you can’t.

And that’s where we’re going today. I’m your host, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, uh, my background here, I’m a marriage and family therapist. I’m a licensed psychologist, board-certified coach, and also the founder of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. So I do a lot of different things, but truly in my heart of hearts I am a marriage counselor first, and I really wanted to talk about this issue, sexless marriages or, you know, sexless relationships of any kind, because it’s so important and it’s also very common, and it’s also really hard to talk about. Even in couples counseling, I tell you what, I have worked with so many couples over the years.

They, they come in, they have, you know, disagreements. They’re not connecting emotionally, all the things. And, you know, we, I take that at face value. We start working on stuff and then. I’ve, I’ve learned since to not do this, but then it would sort of come out sooner or later that, Oh, by the way, we also haven’t had sex in two years.

That was a mistake that I made a long time ago. Now in my career, asking about people’s sex lives is just one of the extremely awkward questions. I like to ask people when I first start working with them. But even then, uh, couples are very reticent. To tell me the truth and talk about sex even in the safety of a marriage counseling office And they’re sure as heck not talking about it with each other But you know with support and safety we are able to broach that conversation like no actually let’s talk about your sex life Start opening up there very frequently is That that part of their relationship has withered and died, it is not happening.

And when we begin unpacking that can often then begin to see a straight line between, um, You know, the demise of their sexual relationship and the increase of all of these other problems that have led them to marriage counseling. So even though they’re not coming into marriage counseling because of sex specifically, when we do that timeline.

It’s amazing how those things fit together. And now I am not suggesting that it’s because people stopped having sex that all of these other problems started happening. It is often the case that, you know, the demise of a sexual connection is multifaceted and there were things that happened that contributed to that.

that weren’t addressed. However, um, the sexuality is kind of like the canary in the coal mine when it comes to relationships. So if, if sexuality has ceased to be like that proverbial Monty Python parrot, um, it is, it is going to be indicative of other usually growing problems in a relationship too. So it is.

Very important to address this because it is one of the first things that will often signify to us that bigger issues are brewing. /

 We are going to get this show on the road in just a second, but first I do have a couple of quick announcements. First of all, for those of you listening to this episode right after it drops, I want you to know that on April 4th, in just a couple of days, I am going live for the first time on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to talk more about communication and answer your questions about a topic that I know is super relevant to so many relationships, which is how to communicate with a partner who shuts down and won’t engage with you.

I know a lot of you struggle with this and I know it can be so frustrating, especially when there’s stuff going on that needs to be discussed, and you’re trying to have important conversations, but just feel like you’re talking to a wall. It’s common, but it’s also toxic, and if you don’t resolve this, it will come back.

Create a lot of harm to a relationship. So this is a super important topic. And this coming Thursday at 12 PM, mountain 2 PM Eastern, I’m going to be hopping on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. To share more tips about how you can break through and connect, but also answer your questions and have a conversation with you and with other members of our community.

Um, I wanted to do this because I get So many awesome questions from you guys, like way more than I can ever cover on a, a podcast. And so I just, I wanted to open up this space and make it available for you. And these Q and A sessions are going to be a regular thing. I plan to be doing this every Thursday at 2 PM Eastern.

Um, and just to have a casual chat. about common issues, love, happiness, and success, relationships, happiness, wellness, career, and, uh, it will just be another way for me to support your growth. So I’m super excited about it. I hope you tune in my Facebook page, uh, facebook.

com, dr. Lisa, Bobby. And, um, I’ll see you there. I’m at at DrLisaMarieBobby on Instagram. Or you can tune in to my YouTube channel at DrLisaMarieBobby so bring your questions about communicating when you have a partner who shuts down or withdraws during important conversations.

And I’m also going to be posting about other things. Upcoming topics every week. So if you want to just stay connected with me on, on, you know, the socials, usual places, you will, um, see like what topics are going to be coming up. So you can think about which ones you might want to join. And then one other quick thing I dropped a little bloop in your podcast feed real recently about a new podcast that I have launched called love, happiness, and success for therapists.

So in addition to being a therapist and a coach and doing this with you guys, I am also the founder of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. I’m a clinical supervisor, and that’s kind of my day job. And what I do there is foster the growth and well being and personal and professional wellness of therapists so that they can do Excellent transformational work with their clients.

It’s very important to me to take care of therapists and in service of that mission, I’ve launched another podcast, love, happiness, and success for therapists. So if you are a therapist, I hope you tune in. You can come to growingself. com forward slash therapist. to learn more about it and connect with the show.

And, um, if you are a civilian listening to this, and know and love a therapist, have somebody in your life that you think could benefit from, uh, this kind of support, I do hope that you turn them on to love, happiness, and success for therapists. Okay, those are all my announcements, and now, on with the show.

 So on today’s show, I’m going to do something a little bit different to help us crack into this topic and talk about it in a different way. As you know, I love hearing from you guys.

My, my listeners, I care so much about what’s going on with you. What’s on your mind. Um, many of you get in touch with me through, through the socials or through my website, growingself. com or send emails to the hello at growingself. com address. And, and just so you know, um, Much of those, uh, I, uh, want to be very, very respectful because you’re telling me about very intimate and confidential things that are happening in your life.

Many times when I get, when I get messages, it is Lisa, here’s what’s going on for me, but I don’t want you to say all that out loud on the air because like, You know, somebody could hear it or I just, I want to keep this private. Like people could connect the dots, but like talk about this issue. Okay. So I just want you to know that that’s a lot of what’s happening for me behind the scenes.

When I’m putting together these things for you, it is my efforts to be responding to your, your questions and your concerns in a way that is helpful for you, but also that is a, um, Protects and honors that the confidentiality because that’s, that’s so important. So keep them coming. I love hearing them.

And today though, I do have the opportunity to share a question in, in full, um, so that we could talk about this actual situation in. In more detail than I can with the specifics, but the reason that I, that I wanted to do this, you know, in addition to having permission to do so was also because this question is just so, uh, it embodies the experience.

Experience of being feeling stuck in a sexless marriage is so perfectly. And I think, I think, uh, if, if you’re dealing with this at all, you’ll totally be able to relate to it. And I also want to say, before we just jump in, I am using the phrase sexless marriage, because like that could be what it feels like.

And long term relationships always have ebbs and flows. In many different domains, including sexuality, but in emotional intimacy and time together in, uh, just feeling more connected, feeling less connected. And so I, I, the, the goal here is not to create a perfectly perfect, we are always together doing all of the things kind of relationship because.

I don’t think that that’s possible. I think what a reality based relationship looks like, long term relationship looks like, is that there is this ebb and flow. My, my YouTube viewers can see me doing this thing with my fingers. There’s an ebb and flow, um, where we are closer together at times. There is a, a drift apart.

The fact that there is a drift is not a catastrophe. The, the relationships that Skill is to notice, Oh, we’re drifting. Let’s do something to help bring us back together again. That’s the way relationships work, rupture and repair, disconnection, reconnection. So I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to paint a picture that, you know, these there, there should never be an ebb and flow.

There are always fluctuations that fact. doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s recognized and that you do something about it to bring things back together again. And then it will be back together again for a period of time. And then there will be more drift and that’s all right. That’s actually how this works.

With that in mind, I just want you to have that mindset. Because it’s not a black or white thing. It’s not a, this is a marriage where our sex life is great. And then this is a sexless marriage. There is a continuum. There is a spectrum and most couples kind of move in and out towards one of these ends or the other, depending on many things, including circumstances, phase of life, relational stuff.

So with that being said, I just want to like ease, ease, any catastrophic thinking that might be happening there. Now, let’s go into this amazing question. So I’ll, I’ll just read you this letter and then we’ll, we’ll talk through the advice. So dear Lisa, I am at my wits end and I desperately need your guidance.

My sexless marriage is killing me both emotionally and mentally. My partner and I used to have a fulfilling, passionate sex life. We both really enjoyed it, but over time, it’s dwindled down to almost nothing. Um, and despite my best efforts to communicate this, my partner Doesn’t seem able to engage in conversations with me.

Um, I feel rejected frequently, but this lack of physical connection leaves me feeling unloved, undesired, and deeply frustrated. Um, I find myself questioning the strength of our relationship, and I worry that there might not be hope for any improvement. Um, It goes on to write, I’ve tried initiating discussions with my partner about our intimacy, but my partner either brushes them off or avoids the topic or gets defensive and won’t really engage with me in a meaningful way when I try to have this conversation.

It also feels a little icky for me. I don’t want to force sex on my partner. Um, I don’t want to pressure them, but I feel like I also can’t ignore the significant impact this is having on me and our relationship as well as my well being. Um, I feel trapped in a marriage that lacks the warmth and closeness and intimacy that I crave.

It’s not just about the sex. I feel like this is impacting our relationship on a number of different levels. I’m feeling increasingly disconnected and resentful. I love my wife very much, but I don’t know what to do to fix this. Um, Please, can you offer any advice on how to navigate this challenge and help us find our way forward?

So this is a difficult situation and just, you know, thank you so much for sharing this with, with me and with all of us, because this is such a, uh, I think a relatable experience too. And, you know, to summarize what I’m hearing is. Desiring this closeness, really missing this connection that you once shared, but the frustration is it’s not just, you know, missing the sexuality and that aspect of intimacy itself.

It’s just feeling that there’s this very real block to communication that, um, you know, your wife is just refusing to engage in a meaningful way on you so that that’s why it feels stuck. You know, and, and I thought it was telling early in your letter, you know, you said you didn’t say we have not been sexually intimate in three years.

You said we don’t really have sex that often dwindled almost to nothing is a phrase that you used. So, so, you know, that, that also means that it isn’t that you’re not ever having sex is, is that there’s this sexual relationship. That feels like it’s gone. It’s not about the act of sex. And again, feeling that you can’t have a meaningful conversation with your partner is the most, is the most hurtful thing here, because you’re absolutely right.

I mean, if you can’t talk about the problem in a constructive way, it is virtually impossible to find an authentic solution. And so anyway, I just wanted to, to thank you for sharing this with me and also just thank you for, um, looking for solutions. I mean, even, even just getting in touch with me, you know, it means that you are thinking about what are we going to do to solve this problem and who, who could be a guide to help us find our way.

Um, And I think that that is also very wise because in my experience, you know, as I mentioned in the beginning, one of the biggest obstacles to correcting sexual problems in a relationship is the level of, um, difficulty that people have. around talking about it. And I think that this exists for many good reasons.

Um, you know, I think many of us, possibly most of us are raised in families of origin that have cultures and belief systems and kind of unspoken rules, especially as we’re children or teenagers growing up, that sex is dirty. It is shameful. It is something that nice people don’t talk about. And it is something that is certainly concealed.

And I want to say, like, I’ve also worked with People who had grew up in families where sexuality was not concealed. It was very overt, which creates a totally different set of problems that need to be worked through. So, so I don’t want to, you know, say that sexuality is concealed like it’s necessarily a bad thing.

But I think that for all of these reasons, there is this, um, Um, This not, not just belief system, but sort of felt truth that it is not okay to talk openly about sexuality, that it is something that needs to be hidden. We don’t develop a language for being able to talk about sexuality because of that. And we also can get very disconnected from ourselves.

Um, I think we, uh, frequently. Can also go through stages of life and, you know, absorb messages around the appropriateness of sexuality in different phases of life. So, for example, and this is a very, like, female, uh, identifying orientation, but, um, young women, you know, through childhood and certainly, you know, teenage years, there’s a lot of pressure to, um, Not be sexual humans, then, you know, moving into later adolescence and into your twenties, the societal expectations is around being sexually attractive and interesting and having sexual experiences and like, you know, read, read a Cosmo, learn all about it.

Um, but there’s like a different type of pressure, you know, Value is people is related to, to sexuality in some ways, but then moving into this next stage of life, being married, becoming a mother, right, that, that once again, like, I think, mobilizes this, this repressive mindset related to sexuality, like sexual mothers do really.

And so there’s this, there’s this. Disconnect not saying that any of this is conscious. This is oftentimes very subconscious. However, these are the kinds of core beliefs and mental snacks that can really contribute very powerful ways. This intense discomfort in talking about sexuality in the kind of open and authentic way that allows for these problems to be solved.

Additionally, there are other things that can make it very, very hard to talk about sexuality. It makes it uniquely vulnerable in some ways if it’s connected to some of the most vulnerable things. For many people, again, oftentimes women, not always women, this can happen with men too. Things like body image can be very strongly associated with sexuality.

Feelings of Failure as a partner, as a person, as a human related to sexuality, self worth, oftentimes lovability, um, some desires that people have feel like they need to be shameful and hidden. So they do, there’s lots of stuff here. Additionally, and I’m just going to say this out loud, which may be. The scariest thing of all, um, it’s not uncommon for disconnection around sexuality to be at least partly contributed by one person not really enjoying the sexual encounters much.

Maybe their bodies or hormones have changed. Maybe they have evolved in terms of their interests. So how do you sit down with somebody that you love and say, I, I’m not really just digging it that much anymore, right? I mean, that would be the most wounding, hurtful thing to say to your partner. And obviously you don’t want to, if that is the truth, find some other ways to say it.

But also like that’s a conversation that needs to be had if you would like to have that be different. But so many barriers, um, like I, I don’t actually feel as attracted to you as I used to. What do you do with that? Right? So it’s a fraught, fraught topic. And I wanted to just put all this out there first and foremost, because I wanted to normalize it and acknowledge the fact that it is very difficult to talk about.

And that talking about it is key to find solutions to it. So I will absolutely give you some strategies in response to your heartfelt question about things that you can do at home to crack into this in meaningful ways. I also just want to say out loud that many couples struggle to talk about this without being heard.

The support of somebody who can hold that door open. Whatever things get too vulnerable, get too intense or too emotionally fraught. What does everybody do in these moments? We close the door. So, you know, it’s actually It’s actually not that big of a deal. Oh, you know what? I just forgot. I’m late for something.

Bye. Right. Or, or avoid, get defensive, deny. Those are all other very effective ways of closing doors to intimacy and connection. And so one of the things that I say over and over again on this podcast is that growth is only partly informational and that’s my intention. I mean, for making these podcasts for you, I am conveying information.

That’s what this is. However, the big part of growth is experiential. We need to have experiences with each other, with ourselves that. Are the transformation, the experiences change us and if the situation like talking about sexuality feels so impossible that we’re jumping out of the ring instead of staying in that, you will not have the experiences that will allow you to grow or.

You will potentially will have negative experiences that will make things worse instead of better. So the reason for connecting with somebody like me is a marriage and family therapist who really understands sexuality, healthy sexuality. is twofold. Part of it is informational. Sure. You’ll learn new things.

You’ll get strategies, but I believe the more powerful part is how to help you have safe experiences, safe conversations that really go where we need to go. Don’t let you run away. Don’t let you avoid, deny, defend. Get away, right? Uh, hold you in place and have that go well as opposed to turn into a hurtful or traumatic experience for either of you.

So we’re creating experiences for the people that we work with. And I just wanted to say that out loud because If you take some of the information that I provide in this podcast and then go home, try to have this courageous conversation with your partner, and it doesn’t go well, it blows up in your face.

Or if they’re like, that’s not what happened. I don’t, I can’t, I don’t even want to talk about this. You’re right. Um, I don’t want you to be surprised. I want you to know that that is not the end of the story. What most people need to do is get into some kind of a structured system that allows them to do this work in a facilitated and supported way.

It’s difficult to do this work without it. So with that said, I will tell you what happens in sex therapy with a marriage and family therapist, just what this Uh, growth and healing process looks like and what it evolved involves, and I’ll be sharing information about things that you can do at home to try to do some of this yourself.

The very first thing that we’ll always do, and, and if you ever start talking to a therapist or sex therapist who doesn’t do this, I would be highly suspicious, um, is first of all, doing a very, very, very, thorough assessment that helps create clarity on some of the things that we were talking about before, like family of origin stuff, belief systems, also like life experiences.

Unfortunately, sexual trauma is very, very common and can really, um, impact the, our, our healthy sexuality. And Sometimes these things are so tender. I mean, they’re, they’re not discussed at all, even, even with our intimate partners. So, you know, a family therapist who knows what they’re doing is really going to take their time, uh, probably have individual sessions to really, like, understand what’s happening here.

There is also a very important component of healthy sexuality that is quite physical in nature that doesn’t have to do with our psychology or our feelings or our belief systems or our traumas. It actually has to do with our biology. How does the equipment work these days? I mean, things like, you know, hormones, hormonal birth control, like, um, there are different health conditions that can have enormously profound impacts on the way we experience sex.

And if that isn’t known and understood and addressed as its own discreet thing, and you have somebody who, you know, just starts working into it. Like your feelings about sex and like, you know, what are the problems in the relationship without first really understanding, is there something else going on that will physically create an obstacle to the kind of healthy sexuality that you desire?

It is going to sabotage the entire process. So that assessment piece is really, really key. But I think the other piece of this that is also very important. Especially at the beginning stages is to get a lot of clarity around, um, what both people in this relationship actually want, first of all, and also if there is understanding of the importance of this for, for one of the people.

So it’s very, very common, for example, for there to be differences in sexual desire. One person create, craves, you know, sexual closeness more than the other does. Um, And in the case of this letter writer, you know, as you were talking about your experience, obviously you want more sexual intimacy than your wife does.

But one of the questions is that, you know, does she really understand how important this is to you and why it is so important to you? Another truth about communication and relationships is that there’s often a big disconnect between what we feel, what our intentions are, and even what we are Saying, or what we are thinking that we are saying that is then received in a very different way by the person that we’re trying to communicate with.

They’re receiving it through their own filters, belief systems. Um, maybe, maybe we’re not really communicating our feelings and intentions as clearly as we think we are is always one thing, but the other is that to a large degree, I mean, people kind of hear what they already believe much of the time anyway.

So, one of the things that I would be exploring with you in this, this process of restoring healthy sexuality is, does your wife understand how important this is to you and why? Because what stood out to me in this letter is that this is all about intimacy for you. It is about connection, emotional connection.

Feeling loved, feeling valued, feeling wanted, it feels like, it feels like being in a relationship, really, to you. And it’s painful. And without that, it feels kind of like not being in a relationship in some ways. Does your wife understand that? Does she think about it very differently? Does sexuality itself mean something very different to her than it does to you?

To her, it might be, you know, having a sexual sensation that has nothing to do with the meaning that it has for you. But you can’t talk to her about that. She’s slamming the door shut in your face. So, Where we would go absolutely first is having that conversation. It would be an emotionally vulnerable conversation.

You would need to talk about how you’re feeling and the pain and what it means to you. Really like letting her see that. Um, and she would need to be supported. I would imagine in being able to receive that because it might bring up a lot for her, right? It might make her feel upset, anxious. Um, guilty, ashamed.

It might bring up worth stuff for her. There could be all kinds of things going on underneath the surface that have led her to pull away from you sexually that you don’t know about yet. And she hasn’t been talking about. And in my experience, when people don’t make sense is because you don’t have all the information.

So there might be a lot of stuff on her side that you might need to hear. So it might be a series of very courageous conversations, emotionally supported conversations, it would be a safe space for both of you, but that’s, that’s what we would need to bring out into the open to understand what is going on.

But I believe that that would be very important to do because without her understanding of the importance of this, she may not be willing to engage in the work itself because it isn’t comfortable. Like, why would she be motivated to come and talk to a therapist like me? And ask her 150 questions about very difficult, possibly dark aspects of her life experience and her feelings about sexuality, which she does not want to talk to anybody about, especially me, right?

Like, why would she want to do that? She doesn’t. I’ll just, like, give you the punchline. She does not want to do any of that, but she would. If she understood how deeply important this was for you, and also if she was able to receive the fact that this doesn’t feel sustainable to you, but she has to let that in, in order to be able to engage in the work with me.

So do you see how that works? There’s like, there’s layers and layers here, and this is why it’s so hard to do this at home. A takeaway here, if you wanted to broach this at home, go into it with a ton of humility, go into it with a lot of very overt, um, expression of your intentions. I would really like to have an important conversation with you about our sexual relationship.

I know that this is Deeply uncomfortable. I feel that I’ve tried to bring this up on numerous occasions and it, I understand that this isn’t comfortable for you to talk about. I felt that, you know, the, the doors typically closed and there’s a part of me that, that really respects that. Like, I understand how hard this is.

But I, I need you to understand that this is very, very painful for me. It is very important to me that we find a resolution. Um, I certainly am not here to force sex on you. That is not what this is about. This is about my experience of being in a relationship of like intimacy connection. What can we just please have a conversation about what is going on here?

Because it feels just. Profoundly important for me to be able to do that. I don’t even mean to tell you more about how I’m feeling. I just said that I really want to hear what’s going on for you and, and how we could find our way back together again, to broach the conversation in that way and, and see what happens to extend that invitation and see, she’ll be able to engage with you and.

And if she does say anything about how she experienced the sexuality, the only correct answer is to keep that door open. Thank you so much for telling me how you felt. I didn’t know that. This is very helpful. Not any shred of defensiveness or problem solving that will always come up. close that door back down.

So counseling skills 101. Um, you can certainly experiment with those kinds of communication skills at home. And if it doesn’t go well, don’t for one second, think that that’s the end of the story. For most people that doesn’t go well, that they just, this just requires more support. It’s too, it’s too big.

It’s like a bomb that’s going to explode. Anyway, I just wanted to say that because sometimes I think too, and people think, well, you know, we tried to talk about it or I took this advice at XYZ. Therefore, it means that our relationship is doomed. That is not true. People even go into couples counseling all the time.

Um, Oftentimes, you know, things aren’t going well, they’re like, well, let’s go to couples counseling and try to improve it. People have zero idea that most therapists providing couples counseling are not qualified to do so. They’re practicing outside the scope of their skills. They’re not licensed marriage and family therapists who are practicing evidence based forms of couples and family therapy.

So a couple will go see a therapist. Licensed psychologist, even, or an LPC who’s like, sure, we’ll see you for couples counseling. Oh yeah, I’m your therapist. Invite your husband in. Yeah, let’s do sex therapy. What’s the problem? But couples come in and they, they talk to a therapist. They believe that they’ve done couples counseling.

It doesn’t work quite predictably. And then they leave thinking, well, our, our relationship must be doomed because that, didn’t work, having no idea that they didn’t connect with the kind of work. That might have worked. So, you know, there’s, there’s just a lack of awareness of this very real problem that I also talk about frequently on this podcast.

So anyway, I just wanted to say that so that you don’t, um, lose hope in what happens next. So having those courageous conversations and really developing an understanding of what is going on, um, having the opportunity to work with somebody either, or, uh, you know, uh, a therapist such as myself or a, um, Doing this on your, on your own, but being able to put the pieces together around what is going on.

Is it simple differences in sexual desire? Is it different expectations about what healthy sexuality should look like? Um, Is it related to, you know, something going on inside of your wife about her experience of sexuality with you, of changes in her physical experience, you know, hormones, and very frequently on the other side of having, uh, given birth.

I mean, women’s hormones change in very real ways. Ways. Are there other dynamics that are happening in your relationship, not related to sexuality, but that are creating resentment and feelings of disconnection in her that make it difficult to connect with you in positive ways. She may be angry with you for something that’s completely different.

She might need different things from you in terms of emotional connection, validation, partnership. That feeling like a real problem for her that maybe, maybe she has been trying to say out loud to you and, and you’re not hearing it in the way that she needs you to hear it. Like, and again, I’m not trying to put the blame for any of this on you, but, but what I am, um, Hopefully, conveying is the fact that these things are multi dimensional and that everything makes sense when it comes to human behavior, when you have all the information.

And so go into this with a very open mind and a lot of healthy humility so that you can actually take in and begin to construct a, Oh, okay. It’s not, not just about the sex. There’s sex, but like there’s all these other things related to it. So how do we begin to build and heal this more positive relationship between us?

In addition, you know, that these things can also be related to many other factors that are more lifestyle based. I mean, Being exhausted, it’s oftentimes a barrier, not having time and space to have intimacy in your relationship. I mean, there’s all kinds of things. However, it is a process that requires a lot of really empathetic, um, listening.

On the one hand, but it, but it also requires a forthcoming ness and just to put this to an into context to help with the understandable. We are also going into territory that people don’t think about much less articulate. In my experience, it is often true that people really don’t know how they feel or what’s going on or what the problem is until they are invited.

To start talking about it in different ways, when people put things into language, they start putting their own. Oh, yeah, that is what’s going on kind of together as they do it again. It’s experiential. Like, that’s how this works. So, um, If you are asking your partner questions and they don’t know the answer or they aren’t forthcoming with information, it may also legitimately mean that they don’t know yet because they haven’t had the experiences that will help clarify this for them either.

So, I don’t know if that was the kind of advice, like, what do I do here to fix this problem because we’re venturing into territory where it’s not, it is not a straight line. I wish I could say. Do this and it’ll all be better. What I have invited you to consider is what I believe is really the truth of the matter is that, is that we are needing to begin exploring a very complex web, a system that has many, you know, things that are attached to other things in order to understand the whole and to create positive changes in the system itself.

So I don’t know exactly what the answer is. Is to change the dynamic of the situation. However, I know the process that will allow for this transformation to occur through this process. My hope is that you would be able to, with your wife, develop a shared vision. For what your sexual relationship be like together, that would be satisfying and, uh, feel good for both of you.

It may not be exactly what either of you want, but again, this is a relationship. It is co creating what you want it to be, and then finding the way to build that. But you have to truly understand what the obstacles and what the sticking points are in order to be able to build that. And before you have the conversations and go through the process, like the one that I was describing today, you, you won’t know to fix what levers to pull and the things that you do try.

If what you’re acting without the benefit of knowing like what the real deal is underneath, that they will be. Of the, the proverbial band aids that, um, might work for a minute, but will not lead to the real and lasting change that you’re looking for. So that’s my advice. Again, I don’t know if it is what you were expecting or wanting, but.

From my perspective, that is the truth. Certainly, if you would like to do this work with one of the therapists, growing self and marriage and family therapists, and we are talking about sexuality all the time, there’s absolutely nothing that you would ever say that would embarrass me or us or like make it uncomfortable.

Like it is literally what we do. Um, but you know, it began to, To work with you through the structured process that will help you unpack and unfold and move through this together as a couple and into a bright, a bright new chapter on the other side. Um, and, uh, you can learn more about doing that at growing self, obviously.

You can come in for a free consultation, talk a little bit about your hopes and goals, uh, and also know that it’s okay to come in and begin talking about, about other things. If that feels more comfortable to do, we could talk about communication or sort of more general emotional disconnection. If you feel like, you know, you need to get going.

Comfier with somebody before we go there. A lot of people do that and it’s just fine. Anyway, um, I hope this was helpful for you guys today And if any of you have follow up questions or want to hear more about like facets of what i’ve discussed today Please get in touch with me on social media facebook instagram all of the places Uh, or through our website growingself.

com shoot me an email. Hello at growingself. com And we’ll keep the conversation going. Okay. Thanks a lot everybody and Be back in touch next time with another episode.

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