Sex in Marriage: 7 Ways to Destroy a Perfectly Good Sex Life

sex in marriage

Whether or not you’d like to admit it (and whether or not you feel comfortable talking about it with your partner or with your friends), sex, whether it’s sex in marriage or in any other relationship, is an important part of sustained human intimacy. Some people tend to deny this (and there are negative repercussions in doing that), while others might scrutinize their sex lives in an unforgiving, unrealistic light, thereby bringing an imbalance into their relationships overall. But you can find a healthy middle ground. And you may be surprised to know that you’re already doing many things right…sometimes it takes hindsight to know that something was already working. So don’t inadvertently sabotage a perfectly good sex life in the name of strengthening your relationship!

Seven Ways Couples Fail to Spice Up the Bedroom:

1) Assume that some ideal frequency or kind of sex in marriage or other long-term relationship exists

It’s human nature to compare oneself to others, but it’s a dangerous practice and often leads to needless unhappiness and dissatisfaction. There are even schools of thought that say that all human misery stems from comparisons to others. Regarding a couple’s sex life, this couldn’t be truer. Darcy was sure that she and her husband Ted were hopelessly off-course when it came to their intimate life. “Some weeks we have sex only once a week,” she said, “maybe sometimes twice. And actually, there are times when we’re stressed at work or when a lot is going on with the kids where we only have sex a couple of times a month.” She sighed. “I guess I didn’t think too much about that until I got together with some girlfriends, and they talked about how often—and how wild—they were having sex with their partners.”

Relationships are not one-size-fits-all, and that holds true to sex lives as well: what might be ideal for one couple may be completely wrong for another. If you and your partner are happy with the type of and frequency of sex you’re having, that’s all that matters, not what anyone else reports (and keep in mind that no matter what anyone claims, you can’t know what their sex life is like unless you were a fly on their bedroom wall). Trying to force yourself into a role just because you think it’s “ideal” can only bring you and your partner distress.

2) Keep your sexual wants and desires to yourself

This is another habit that too many individuals rely on, and it’s one that can place an obstacle in what could have been a fulfilling sex life. Many of us were taught not to discuss sexuality; true, sex is a fact of life, but not one that should be openly talked about, that thinking goes. This approach couldn’t be more detrimental to your relationship! It’s unrealistic and unfair to assume that your partner will just intuit what you want/need (and vice versa)…those kinds of unspoken assumptions are the breeding ground for festering resentments. Since a healthy sex life rests on openness and trust, resentments and concealment will only hijack a fulfilling physical union.

So it’s best to let your partner know what you desire in the bedroom…but what if your mate isn’t willing to be as open? Should you insist they talk about it? Should you pry their desires out of them? Force the truth from them? Absolutely not! Sex within a long-term relationship is about trust and emotional safety, not about coercion. You can set the example by voicing your desires; whether your partner feels comfortable enough in doing so is your partner’s business and responsibility, not yours. (But you might find that sharing is often contagious…you can set the tone with your honesty.)

3) Never ask your partner what turns him/her on

This is the flip side of the above coin. Just as it’s dangerous to keep your sexual wants and desires to yourself, it’s similarly dicey to never ask your partner what turns him/her on. As we’ve discussed, you shouldn’t force the matter if they are not ready or willing to share. But asking in a non-pushy way is important because it shows them that you do care about their wants, that you prioritize their needs, that you recognize that a sexual relationship is about two people, not merely about you getting what you want.

 4) Don’t Take Care of Yourself

Poor self-care not only hurts you (physically as well as psychologically and emotionally), but it can get in the way of your sexual fulfillment. If you don’t feel good about how you’ve been caring for your body, you certainly won’t be in the mindset to have your partner take enjoyment from your body. That can set into motion a cycle of embarrassment (which can lead to its more intense relative, shame), avoidance, feelings of unworthiness and bitterness, as well as the mentality of “Why even try?” You’ve heard that you need to take care of yourself before you can be of help to anyone else. This advice applies to your relationship and its sexual component. When you practice good self-care, you’re doing the necessary groundwork to enjoy a physical union with your mate.

 5) Hold a Judgmental Mindset

Think back to the last time you shared something personal or private or embarrassing with someone. Try to remember how vulnerable that made you, how raw you felt while you were sharing. If you were lucky, your trusted confidant reacted to what you shared in such a way that you felt safe and secure. If you weren’t so lucky, you ended up feeling ashamed.

Remember that your partner has needs and desires and fantasies, too…and for the fullest, most rewarding sex life, you’ll want to learn about those fantasies. However, if you hold a judgmental mindset—if you critique your partners’ wishes—then you will be putting up a wall between the two of you. Sharing makes us vulnerable and therefore prone to shame (and sex is a form of sharing for sure!), and you want to always be sensitive and considerate when your partner approaches you with his/her desires. This doesn’t mean you have to agree to each thing discussed. It just means that you want to respect what your mate is telling you or showing you in the bedroom. After all, you expect sensitivity and respect in return.

6) Do the same thing (over and over and over again)

The familiar is great—it’s one reason why you can eventually open up to your partner and share your deepest longings and desires. There is safety in the familiar. However, when you cling to the familiar exclusively, at the cost of trying something new when you both are ready for something new, you might feel like your sex life has become overly routine and stale. Don’t be afraid to celebrate the familiar and make room for the new…you never know when excitement might be knocking on your bedroom door.

7) Allow self-consciousness to stand in the way of sexual abandon

All of us experience feelings of self-consciousness in certain situations, some more frequently and acutely than others. Self-consciousness is part of being human (though when those feelings are so intense that they impede healthy functioning, professional help may be warranted). So the goal isn’t to magically make yourself un-self-conscious in all circumstances, but instead to work on allowing sexual abandon to take priority in the bedroom, to lose yourself in the moment so that you’re not obsessing over how you’re appearing or seeming to your mate. Focus on the union of the two of you instead of worrying about how the solo you is coming across. When you are able to temporarily put yourself as an individual aside, you open yourself to experiencing real enjoyment with your partner. That is one of the most appealing aspects of an intimate relationship.

There you have it: 7 ways to destroy a perfectly good sex life. It’s often helpful to know what not to do when learning how to master a skill. And whether you feel skillful in the bedroom or not, remember that healthy sex in marriage or in relationships (the intimate aspect as well as the emotional aspect) is all built on a learning curve…you will learn and grow if you are sincere about and open to that growth.

 Featured (top) image credit: “How To Improve Communication In A Relationship – Share Your Feelings Openly” by Urbanewomanmag under CC BY 2.0