It was 1998 and I waited nervously in my doctor's waiting room. The blood tests were in, and I was convinced something was wrong with me. I thought I had cancer, a thyroid imbalance, or my ovaries weren't releasing the proper hormones. I needed a medical reason to explain why I didn't want to have sex with my husband. After all, I was only 25 and married for just one year.
The doctor came in and gave me the news:
"Lindsey, there is nothing wrong with you. You are perfectly healthy."
What? No, something is wrong. Then why don't I ever want sex? This was not what I wanted to hear.
He told me it was psychological and encouraged me to see a therapist. I ignored his recommendation and took "sex boosting" herbs, read books on how to "sex things up," heck, I even watched porn. Nothing worked.
After nine more years of a near sexless marriage, I finally saw a therapist. I discovered my "low sex drive" had nothing to do with me, but rather, deep rooted issues I had with my husband. Had I blamed myself less, and taken more time to examine my marital problems, perhaps my marriage could have been saved. But I am now remarried and let's just say, my sex drive is doing just fine. Why? Because when I entered my new relationship, I openly discussed these five issues that can affect your willingness to have sex, not your sex drive:
1) You are angry: There's nothing like a good fight that will put sex on hold. Who wants to be intimate when you're pissed off? But how mad are you? Anger can last a day or for many years but regardless, if you're angry, you will withhold sex as a weapon for your fight. If your anger can't be resolved in a conversation with your husband, then talk to a coach or a therapist. Anger not only affects your sex life, but your health and wellbeing.
2) You feel controlled: Whether your husband is outright controlling of you and tells you what to do, or if he is more passive aggressive in his controlling behavior, nobody likes to be controlled. While we may be tempted to give in sexually, just to "get it over with," sex is a very unenjoyable experience. When we are controlled, the one thing we control is sex. It may not be a conscious action, but controlling sex can give us power in a powerless relationship.
3) You don't communicate: When communication between you and your husband is only about the kid's schedules or what to buy at the grocery store, you need a lot more words of love to reignite the sex spark. Being told that you look sexy and beautiful can go a long way. If you want to hear that, start by telling him how good he looks when he goes to work -- men do like to hear it! Stroke his ego and hopefully he will catch on to pay you a compliment in return.
4) You just aren't attracted to him: Perhaps he has gained 20 pounds since you married him, and his physical appearance has declined. I truly believe that it is every married couple's responsibility to uphold their appearances so the physical attraction remains intact. Yes, we all age, but are you doing what you can to look attractive as well? If weight gain is an issue, be honest with him. Suggest a lifestyle change for both of you. Set a goal to run/walk in a local 5K, go on an active muli-sport vacation, try kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding. Being an active couple can really make a difference in your appearances and your communication.
5) You are stressed: Let's see, you work a full time job and spend your free time in the car carting your children around from game to game, and you have no time for YOU. Stress and anxiety can put a major damper on your willingness to have sex. It is crucial to commit to one hour a day for some down time -- go for a walk, do yoga, meditate, go shopping, get pampered and look pretty.
As women, we do a wonderful job blaming ourselves for the lack of romance in our marriage. Naturally, we are givers so when we can't give, we think something is wrong with us. Irregular intimacy in your marriage can be normal, but weeks and months of a sexless marriage is an indicator that something is wrong in the relationship, not with you. Talk to a therapist or marriage coach to help pinpoint the underlying problem before the marriage itself becomes at risk.