f you are in a relationship with no sex, but it is otherwise good, and you wish it to continue, there is hope. Chances are this problem did not start overnight, and the solution to bringing sex back into the relationship is going to take time and commitment.
We have helped hundreds of couples get back in the saddle, even those who haven’t been having sex for years. There are many articles on this site to help with more specific information, but here is an overview of our “Six Stages of Recovery of Sex in a Relationship."
”No Sex in a Relationship – Stage One – Talking and Listening
This first step is to be honest about the situation. You may have unequal levels of desire for sex, and this is not unusual. The point is -- is this something you talk about openly? Or has it become a shameful subject? Is one partner angry and resentful? Is one or more partner scared that the relationship will end if you bring the subject into the light? There are many reasons why couples stop having sex. You are not alone if you are having problems in this area.
One couple, who had been together for nine years, and had not had sex in the last seven did this exercise. He had read in some magazine in a doctor’s waiting room that women find kisses on the neck erotic. While some women definitely do find this arousing, HIS wife was totally turned off by his “vampiring” and she was too embarrassed to bring it up because she knew he was trying. Once they had this discussion, and he stopped doing the “nice thing” that turned her off, they were able to begin enjoying a healthy sex life once again.
(See our article “How Normal is My Sex Life?” to find out how you rate with other couples.)
Not talking about an important problem does not make it any better or make it go away. In fact, to avoid it, it builds negative energy. If you have been avoiding dealing with the issue of no sex in a relationship, the first step is to talk about the subject – and the most important part of this stage is not what you say, but how well you listen to your partner. You need information about what is going on for them.
You may make discoveries that unlock the stalemate. Many couples find resolution just by applying this first stage. For example, one couple, Teddy and Celeste, hadn’t had sex in seven years. When they had their first open discussion about this issue, they discovered that the challenge was with intercourse. Both parties were open to having a satisfying sexual life that didn’t involve intercourse.
To read more about how to create more delight, less blame, and create more sexual intimacy, read our article on Sex in Relationships Lesson Three. Or read The Absence of Sex in Relationships.
No Sex in a Relationship – Stage Two – Admit Your Truth, Feelings, and Needs
Often one or both people are ashamed to admit their feelings, or are afraid to ask to have their needs met. This builds resentment, and this resentment shows up in many other areas of the relationship, such as no longer desiring to do small tasks, or things that would please your partner.
Shame keeps good energy in lock-down. It decreases desire for loving energy to be exchanged. Shame leads to blame. Blame leads to judgment, and judgment is the enemy of intimacy. When you express your needs, you need to be very vigilant about not making the other person wrong. If you begin a statement with “You never want sex, don’t you love me anymore?” This is guaranteed to shut the other person down. It is an assumption that they don’t love you anymore. They may love you very much, but may not be expressing it in the way you want it expressed.
It is much better to say: “I would like to have more intimacy between us.” This is a statement of your wants, needs, desires, without making assumptions about what the other person is feeling or thinking.
To read more about saying yes to pleasure and telling the truth about what you want, read our Sex in Relationships, Lesson Four.
No Sex in a Relationship – Stage Three – Make a Simple Request
If you are currently having no sex in a relationship, the idea is not to try to go from zero to sixty in one minute. To get back on track, you need a simple, small, mutually agreeable action (something that can actually be done) that LEADS or points you in the right direction. T
o use the example above, with the couple where intercourse is an issue, they opted to have five minutes of cuddling before going to sleep at least two nights a week. This was clearly a small step, but the advantage of a small step is that it creates less resistance. Even though, with two high-pressure jobs they both felt tired at night, agreeing to just ten minutes a week of contact was just what they needed to get going.
Within a couple of weeks that became almost every night, without prompting. It just felt good to do it. We will do what feels good, but we will avoid what causes stress and discomfort. For this reason, in your talking and listening of stage one, see if you can uncover mutually pleasurable simple things such as hugging, massaging, kissing, caressing, or any other positive nurturing contact.
To get more tips on this, read: “Relationship Sex Advice: How to Keep Your Focus on Pleasure”
No Sex in a Relationship – Stage Four – Set a Date for Intimacy
Especially with busy lives, it can be easy to let intimacy slip to the bottom of the To Do list. If you are in a relationship with little or no sex, you may actually need to set a time for “date night” – where you don’t go out, or if you do, you return early enough that you still have energy to come home and have “date night in your bedroom.”
While we all love spontaneity when it comes to sex – if it isn’t happening on its own, you have to guide it with planning. This is a planned time for agreed upon intimacy, and can lead to increasing levels of pleasure through anticipation.
A secondary benefit is the relaxation that comes from knowing intimacy will happen. Planned intimacy does not have to include intercourse, or any sexual acts that create resistance (and you know which acts are causing problems, from paying attention in stage one!)
The idea here is to find mutually agreeable sensual contact, such as making out, oral sex, massage or anything that brings you both pleasure. This foreplay can lead to orgasm, or not, according to how much you two are in sync with each other’s desires. Sometimes taking the pressure or focus off of orgasm can be really useful, and lead to more sensual contact, without orgasm as a goal or concern.
To read more about this, read our article on Getting Your Sex Life Back on Track.
No Sex in a Relationship – Stage Five – Put Attention on Pleasure
When a couple is not having sex it can create stress in the relationship. While many couples can go to the grave without a sex life together, it is possible to turn this situation around by following these six guiding steps.
Remember, they are just suggestions, like possible maps to follow. Your own journey may have unique twists and turns, and of course, you do not have to proceed in the order outlined here, but it can be helpful to recognize what stage you are in. It is helpful to correctly identify the cause of the problem in order to make sure you are using the right solution.
With so much emphasis on stressful issues, or what is wrong with the relationship, you can lose focus on what is RIGHT with the relationship. What is right is loving each other, your desire to be together, to support each other’s happiness, and to create a loving home. To help get sex and intimacy back into a relationship you need to shift your attention away from what is wrong, and back to what is right.
You can jump start this process by putting your focus on pleasure. Start by putting attention on what brings your partner pleasure. Start with small things like a foot massage, a shoulder rub, a hug, kind or affectionate words, or saying “I love you,” more often.
In stage one of this recovery process, you are in dialogue with each other, and you really need to know, if you don’t already, what brings your partner pleasure. You can ask; “What can I do to please you?” If they don’t know right away, ask them to think about it. Just having them put their focus on what would please them will help them recover desire.
For more information on putting attention on pleasure read our article: “Pay Attention to Pleasure”
No Sex in a Relationship – Stage Six – Self Pleasure
Depending upon the reason that there is no sex in the relationship, it may be important to include masturbation in your life. Ideally, this could be a shared experience, something you do together. If that is not possible yet, at least talk about your needs. Mutual masturbation can be a useful tool in a training cycle of getting back to intimacy together.
What is less helpful is pornography, where one person is off on their own, because it can become addictive. Then it becomes harder to get aroused, and to be pleased by your partner, if you get used to getting it on your own all the time. Many men are addicted to pornography, and then have little or no interest in intimacy with their wife.
This is a difficult cycle to break, and you may need professional help. But masturbation that is not isolating or separating can be a useful method to keep the couple still in connection, while honoring the other partner’s lack of desire for sexual contact.
We offer short coaching sessions online or by phone or skype to help you determine what stage you are in, and what you need to do to move forward. You deserve to have a relationship that satisfies your sensual desires and needs!
If you would like a coaching session, contact us here.
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