Why Sex Decreases After Marriage and How to Increase It
Not all couples experience an exponential drop in their sex lives post marriage- or so I hear. I'm still waiting to meet the couples that continue vigorous and enjoyable sex lives consistently throughout their marriage- affairs don't count!
For the partner that feels betrayed and the one who feels underwhelmed about the loss of sexual encounters within their marriage, it really is normal, not great, but normal. Ups and downs are part of life, especially your sex life. Sex is a symptom, not the main issue- rarely do couples report all aspects of their marriage being great with the only exception being sex.
Women can be known to put sex on the back burner, but usually because we have all burners going at once, typically thinking about 20 things simultaneously and sex gets shuffled around in the mix. Kids get sick, work priorities come up again, an argument with your spouse and before you know it, sex just jumped several items down on that list of priorities- maybe it leaped off the list altogether. Men can be guilty of pushing sex aside too. Some people even think marriage itself is the culprit for the lack of sex. If you are puzzled by what decreases the sex life between couples, here's a few hints and a few helpful tips.
Keep in mind that a decent sex life takes work, there is no quick fix. Just like having good health and a good body takes effort in the way of proper diet and exercise.
Children- Duh! Especially Babies
Children have a huge impact on a couple's sex life. I remember a repetitive conversation/argument my husband and I had during the many ensuing months after our daughter was born. Our dialogue would go as follows:
Husband: "So am I going to get some (sex) tonight"?
Wife/Me: "Well if that line alone doesn't get me in the sack, what will (heavy sarcasm)? Certainly not a massage, foot rub, you cooking dinner, or you putting the baby to sleep..."
Husband: "OK, I get the point".
Wife/Me: "I can't believe you have time to think about sex when all I can think about is the luxury of taking a shower or eating lunch one of these days."
The wife is left feeling resentful and the man feels inadequate because he isn't getting a fair slice of the precious time his wife spends on the baby. Men and women change after having a baby, therefore the relationship changes, and all too often the man wants the woman to resume her pre-baby self far too soon.Realistically, and obviously, women take longer than men to resume their pre-baby self. The problem arises when the man expects too much too soon. The woman is taking care of a new being and someone (husband/partner) should be taking care of her or at least helping her take care of herself.
While men feel the pressure of fatherhood, a woman is going through much more, physically and emotionally. She is learning how to re-balance her life, and men need to be patient because, believe it not, the woman usually puts herself and her needs further down on the list than the needs of her partner. So if you're feeling neglected, think how she must feel.
Another secret I'll let the men/fathers in on; Make it easy for your wife to be with you. Don't be another stressor or remind her how long it's been since you've had sex. Insist that your wife has time for herself sans baby or children. Take it upon yourself to schedule the babysitter. Women get consumed, even obsessive, with their role as a mother and if she doesn't get to be by herself for decent periods of time, she will forget the (pre-children) woman inside her- leaving that identity for the role of supermom. Insist on her getting time for herself and time with you, without the kids.
Women have a bottomless reserve of giving, and giving, for their children- it's an instinct. A man will say he is tired and simply be done with his day. But a woman will keep on giving to her children, past the point of exhaustion. She may not have anything left, but somehow if her children need more or are sick, she digs deep down in her bottomless reserve and gives more. Problems can occur when the husband wonders why she can't find it within her to give more (ie. sex) to him- why will she not go above and beyond for his needs? That's not a fair question for men to ask. No competition- sorry guys.
If husbands are expecting their wives to easily shut off their mother role once the kids are asleep, he'll be dissappointed. Give her time, on a weekend or during the day sometime, to shut off the mother role- when she is not exhausted already. And don't expect to get sex the first week or so of giving her more outings by herself- be patient and show her this is genuinely time she deserves, no strings attached. Even if you're hoping for some sexual favors sometime down the road, you should still be sincere about helping her detach from the kids a little.
Encourage each other to have a life and hobbies outside of the kids. If the kids are your life, your sex life will suffer- of course when you're done procreating/adding to your family, that is.
Where's the Person I Married?
Aren't we all guilty of accusing our spouses for changing after we marry them? Sometimes it seems they change so much, we lose some of the initial attraction we felt for them. Or maybe we changed so much that our attractions varied as well. Somewhere during the dating process we were attracted to the other person and no matter what advice follows this, it really is necessary to date your spouse and have hobbies aside from each other to discuss when you're out on a "date".
The way a woman views her man is crucial to her sexual feelings toward him. A woman feels most attracted to a strong, not necessarily physical, but supportive man- even if a woman is strong and independent, she still wants to know her man represents a safe place to fall.
Women have an ideal in their head, from the time they were little girls, about the man they will marry. While it's important for women to give up their man in the fairytale, it's also important for men to know what makes their wife attracted to them most and up their game, so to speak, in that category. If she is attracted to your child-like boyishness, find places to go where you can play.
It's complicated in the way that love is unconditional, but realistically, attraction is conditional. We can't give up or let ourselves go o sit around watching TV, and expect our spouses to be attracted to us. There is nothing in the marriage vows about being eternally attracted to your spouse- sad but true. The good news is your spouse was probably attracted to you for several reasons initially so maintain a few of those attractive features and traits to keep your spouse dazzled by you.
Men seem to complain a lot about their wife's body changing after marriage, usually gaining weight. If you pressure her or concentrate on this aspect too much, then she will withdraw further away from the bedroom, and consequently your chances of sex diminish. Women are very mental/psychological creatures, especially concerning sex. They realize when they've gained weight and it effects them mentally. The best thing to do is be an example- stop eating junk around her or focusing activities around eating. Women want to feel close to their husbands so they will partake in activities or even bad habits, like late-night snacking- just to spend time with you. If she gets her connection by eating with you, then she won't need to engage in other connections, such as sex.
Competition of Needs
"Couples think, If I'm not getting what what I want then you don't matter"...Tony Robbins, motivational speaker, stated this about his work with couples having issues. We have to do things we hate for the other person's sake and give up the competition, while working on becoming a team.
There may come a time when your partner says I want less sex or more sex. You would like to acknowledge your partner's needs, but they aren't compatible with your needs or maybe you feel like you can't give more sex unless you get some of your other, non-sexual needs met.
Typically, one person in the relationship has emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs that must be met before they welcome the idea of sex. If those needs are not met, sex decreases or becomes dissatisfying for that person. But how does each partner get their needs met when one is not willing to give unless given to? Does it become a stand-off?
First, the needs should be communicated in the most respectful way with your partner- no attacking or blaming. Then, work on a give and take program- you ask for a date night or a massage (whatever you deserve or helps you feel connected) from your partner and you will give him a favor in return. I have to say this works to get things going again and proves to one another that giving and taking is possible. You may need to flip a coin to determine who starts the giving. Score-keeping like this isn't a long-term solution, but it works during the lulls and low points.
Sometimes we expect marriage and our spouse to fulfill all our needs, after all, they did in the beginning. A new relationship seems to fulfill everything on your list; you don't need to eat, sleep, or love anything else. You are perfectly full and complete. This is unrealistic in marriage though. We need to consistently evaluate who and what can fulfill our needs- it's not all our spouse's responsibility. Some of our needs can be met from our friends, relatives and ourselves. You may be focusing on having more sex in your relationship, but some of that need may be derived from a lack of self-worth or emotional intimacy.
Trouble's Been Brewing
Lack of sex is a SYMPTOM- something else is going on and has been for a while. Since women are mental/emotional creatures, it's usually a woman who holds resentment or anger about something in the past. This is a mental road block a woman must overcome to get physical again. As a man, you can either talk it out with her (don't have a "get over it" attitude) or you can get help from a counselor together.
It's obvious as a nation, we don't like effort. We want to work less and have more, eat more and weigh more, etc. Add one more to that list; It takes effort to have a sex life with your spouse, and even more effort to have a good one. I'm not suggesting doing it begrudgingly, but making time for it to happen adding a little spice. Couples are surprised at the effort involved to just get away from their routine to have sex or quality time that might lead to sex. Sex doesn't just happen when married. There are several ways to satisfy a man and a woman, but it takes effort to discover these things- uprooting the usual routine to discover long-term bedroom bliss.
Men, if you put out effort, your wife may put out too. Don't take anything for granted. Since spontaneity and lust are pre-marital luxuries, romance is the replacement now that you're married. What is your wife's definition of romance? In addition, pour on the romance occasionally without even attempting to get her in bed. This will demonstrate you have no ulterior motives for being romantic- it's a deed done for the favor bank.
Women's effort should begin with herself- make the effort to feel good about yourself or attractive, whatever that takes for you. For me, that's reading or watching a romantic or sexy book or movie. A little fantasizing does a woman's brain wonders. Now that I am a stay-at-home mom I can't justify spending much money on my wardrobe, but once a month I buy a new outfit or some item of clothing that makes me feel good, and wear it, maybe even on date night with my husband. Also, exercise gets your blood flowing to all you areas even if your goal isn't losing weight, it releases feel-good hormones, which help in other areas of you life (ie. sex life). The practice of doing something for yourself makes you more willing to do something for someone else. Yes, I know it's easier said than done and that's why we call it effort.
Let's Get Physical
There are biological reasons that lead to a diminishing sex life. Many occur after child birth and in the 50+ age group for men and women. For example, heart and cardiovascular problems can cause impotency in men. After child birth and during menopause, women's hormones can fluctuate extensively, causing a physical and mental decreased appetite for sex. A doctor's evaluation and blood tests can uncover the reason for a loss of sex drive.
It's Not All About Sex
So what are some ways to get things going without focusing on the sex stats?
- Focus on making the relationship better in general; communicate more, view each other as partners, share interests and activities together, go through hardships together.
- Masturbate together
- Read or watch something naughty.
- Don't overthink about sex. Let it happen if it happens...it's perfectly natural.
- Take an adventure- do something completely out of your comfort zone together, This is the first thing Tony Robbins uses for couples he counsels.
- For women who can't find the inspiration to have sex with their husbands, here is one incentive: after you have sex with him is when he is feeling closest to you and open to conversation about things you may want to discuss while he's in a really good mood. If you have sex before bed, though, he will probably be fast asleep so pick a good time not right before bed.
- Kiss more
- See a romantic or steamy movie together
- Go to one of your favorite date places (or activities) before you got married
- Talk dirty (over the phone, text or email is good)
- Touch each other more
- Try a new activity or challenge with your spouse- you may see them in a new light
- make a short list together about the top things that turn you onto the other person and keep that list handy to refer to later
For additional information, visit Dr. Laura Berman's website
For more inspiration and couple advice from Tony Robbins:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.