Years ago at church camp, we always did a skit that involved improbable characters: the Maytag repairman, a crazy cat lady who had dogs, a teacher without any students, a trapeze artist with a fear of heights, a pet shop owner who was afraid of fish, and so on.
I’ve become one of those improbable characters: I’m a sex blogger who is struggling to enjoy sex right now.
I’ve been a little blindsided to realize I’ve been feeling this way. After all the effort I put in over a period of several years to enjoy sex and my sexuality, how can this have happened? I write about sex. I’m even part of a podcast about sex, for pete’s sake!
The More We Have Sex
For many women, the more we have sex, the more we want it. Maybe it’s “practice makes perfect” in practice. Maybe it’s that some benefits of sex—feeling close, easing stress and depression, dealing better with pain, and a stronger pelvic floor—are also the same things that helps us want sex more or better enjoy our bodies and our relationships. Maybe it’s just a matter of habit.
Increased frequency was early on my list of things to address while working on sex. I had good intentions and a great deal of compassion for my husband and his need for sex. That was good, but it didn’t really help me want sex more.
At first, I had to work hard to get my sexual game face on. I had to apply my will and intention to have sex to compensate for the lack of actual desire. I had to be intentional to think about enjoying sex throughout the day. I often had to choose between enjoying sex and being focused on my husband. Even when I chose to enjoy, orgasm was elusive. I often had sex when I didn’t want to, with the knowledge that my desire would probably emerge as I got into it.
I figured that more sex would make my husband happy. I didn’t even bother hoping that it would be a good thing for me or our marriage—but to my surprise, it was.
As I had more sex with my husband, I found that sex became easier in a lot of ways. I frequently thought about it without having to be intentional. It took less effort and less time for me to become aroused. Sex felt more mutual, with me better able to both receive and give pleasure rather than have to choose between enjoying and giving. Orgasm got easier. I wanted sex more frequently and more intensely. I felt emotionally closer to my husband, which then made me think about wanting to be with him more.
My husband felt more loved and more desired (as well as more sexually sated). Our relationship grew stronger the more the wondrous sex hormones enhanced our pair-bonding. Our marriage benefited because we both felt more loved and one-fleshy. I learned what sexual frequency I needed in order to maintain the benefits I’d discovered.
The more I had sex, the more I most definitely wanted it—and it was a good, good thing.
When Sex Decreases
I know that frequent sex is good for me and for us in a lot of ways. I know it in my head. I’ve lived it. I’m a fan of frequent sex.
The more I have sex, the more I want sex.
It’s annoying to also know the reverse effect: the less I have sex, the less I want it. And that’s where I am right now.
Big Guy and I have been in a sexual slump this year, with a decrease in frequency. There’s no one reason. Life just seemed to get in the way. We’ve faced some stressors we had not encountered before in our marriage. Our young adult kids were around the house more. We often decide that we would rather wait a day or two so we can be alone and more relaxed. Seasonal depression has hit me hard this year. With both of us hitting a desire slump rather than just me, neither one of us has had much urgency to press the issue.
I’ve recently realized that I am once again approaching sex without much feeling of desire. I have to psych myself up to be ready for sex. I have to make myself think about sex during the day. Arousal and orgasm are difficult, and it is just a lot easier to focus on my husband rather than try to enjoy sex for myself. The “use it or lose it” phenomenon is in play.
Sex had been easy for a while. Now it’s difficult.
The more the challenges present themselves, the bigger those challenges become. The less I have sex, the less I want it.
When you’ve worked so hard to address sexual intimacy, hitting a slump can be discouraging. Some women wonder what it means: What if I’m just not capable of making a real change? What if my efforts just weren’t enough, even though I thought they were? Does this mean our marriage is going to fail? What’s wrong with me?
A season of sexual slump is just that—a season. It is completely normal for a marriage to have times when sex is more frequent and times when the frequency slows down.
Many factors can send sex drive into a nosedive: stress, depression, low self-esteem, lack of sleep, medication changes, health issues, hormones (menopause for her and low testosterone for him). Problems at work, watching kids hit a major milestone or leave the nest, dealing with a family member’s illness, and so much more can definitely put a damper on desire.
One of you dealing with some of these factors can be enough to slow things down. If you’re both experiencing some of them, it would be surprising if you didn’t see a change in your sex life.
Fortunately, when we’ve been through a sexual reset once before, we can approach the problem this time around armed with more knowledge and experience before.
Here are some things that I know will help us pull out of the slump.
- I know that that an increase in frequency will make things easier for me. I’ve experienced it before, and I know that it works.
- We are now able to have conversations about sex. Instead of sounding accusatory, we approach the problem of disconnection as a team. We decide together what to do.
- I understand that this is just a season. Indeed, the fact that we are seeing it as a problem is itself a sign that we are at the end of the season.
- Instead of feeling hopeless, I know that changing our slump will have a positive impact on our marriage and on us.
- Our relationship is solid. Although we are a bit more easily irritated with each other, we are quick to apologize when that happens and we both reach out to each other in other ways. In fact, knowing that the problem is sex and not our overall relationship is a big change.
- The deeper levels of intimacy we have reached over the past several years have given us insight into how to help each other.
- We have a richer and deeper perspective on what counts as sexual intimacy. We understand that intercourse is not the only way to be sexually intimate. We’ve experienced the value of just lying naked and unashamed with each other, even if sex doesn’t end up happening. (See Sex in the Middle for other ideas.)
So yeah, I’m a sex blogger who is struggling to enjoy sex right now. And maybe you’re a sexually awakened wife who has feelings of sexual slumber again.
It may take a while to recognize the problem—but once we see it, we can tap into what we learned the first time around to turn things around.
I fully expect that I am heading from a season of sexual slump into a season of sexual enjoyment.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . Ecclesiastes 3:1
Image credit | Christianpics.co