By Benjamin Deu, MA, LMHC, Seattle Christian Counseling
References Dr. Ruth Morehouse in “Why You Don’t Want To Have Sex” from Oprah Magazine July-August 2010 and “Passionate Marriage” by Dr. David Schnarch
This is the second article in a two-part series about reasons older women experience low sexual desire. You can find the first article here.
So you don’t want sex. That means there must be something wrong with you, right? Wrong. Low sexual desire that is not rooted in a biological problem is a sign of good judgment, says sex therapist Dr. David Schnarch. “Healthy people don’t want sex when it’s not worth wanting.” (127)
Dr. Ruth Morehouse, clinical psychologist and sex therapist, did an interview with O, The Oprah Magazine about four reasons more mature women struggle with sexual desire. Accompanying the bullet points is information from her husband Schnarch’s book Passionate Marriage building on Morehouse’s statements and offering suggestions about how to address them.
Dealing with Sexual Dissatisfaction
- Many women in long-term relationships also lose interest in sex because they don’t want the kind of sex they’ve been having. When two people have been together for a long time, sex often gets routine and stops feeling personal. There’s not always the sense of being a unique, cherished individual. Often women want something more, but they’re afraid of making their husbands feel inadequate. When the intense physical attraction they experienced early in a relationship fades, sex may leave them thinking, “Is that all there is?”
After the early honeymoon euphoria dissipates, spouses are left to find something more substantial to serve as the foundation of their relationship. This means changing the way you approach sex. You need to start focusing on connecting emotionally during sex, rather than resting on physical attraction. “As you age, feelings and thoughts must replace biological drive and sensory awareness as the major determinants of your sexuality. Exploring your sexual potential isn’t just easier to do; it’s a necessity if you want to keep sex a vital part of your life as you get older.” (89)
It can also help to change things up. After taking however long to figure out what works for your spouse, it can be easy to settle into doing that every time. But treating your spouse like a to-do list is a terrible way to go about intimacy. As Schnarch spins the traditional abstinence message of “save the beauty in sex for marriage,” “There’s no beauty in sex–the beauty is in people. You can’t save the beauty in sex, you have to put it in.” (75) We see the beauty in people throughout Song of Solomon. The two lovers aren’t singing the praises of sex; they are singing the praises of one another. They enjoy intimacy, not for intimacy’s sake, but because it gives them an opportunity to enjoy the beauty they find in one another.
Confront Sexual Insecurity
- For things to get better women need to take the risk of figuring out what they want sexually- something many still don’t know- and to accept part of the responsibility for having an unsatisfying or boring sex life. If you’re giving in to the peace, going through the motions, you’re not really there. You’re helping to keep the relationship stagnant.
The women Morehouse refers to are in dissatisfying sexual relationships because they allow their insecurities about their relationship with their partner to dictate what goes on in the bedroom. Many spouses settle for sex that is “good enough” because they are afraid of upsetting the status quo. What if you upset your spouse by suggesting you try something new? What if they don’t like what you try? What if you don’t do it right the first time?
When you try to avoid creating problems by refusing to address sexual stagnation, you create a different set of problems. You begin to see sex as boring, which kills your desire. You may begin to resent your spouse because you see them as keeping you from having better sex, even though you are the one who resists rocking the boat. The only way to for your intimacy to become more satisfying is to make it more satisfying.
Stop Sexual Stagnation
In Romans 7 we see the Apostle Paul struggling to reconcile his desire to obey God with his indwelling sin nature. He knew what was right behavior, yet he continued to sin. Spouses can often damage their marriages through a similar struggle. They know they are not happy with the way things are, but they are also unwilling to do what it takes to improve them.
Tell your spouse you want to try something new. Liken it to taking on a new challenge in a hobby. Varying and challenging yourself in how you do these enjoyable things is why they stay enjoyable. Performing the same motions over and over again may be an ideal way to run an assembly line, but it makes for boring sex.
Christian counseling for Sexual Marriage Problems
Christ calls his followers to do hard things. Marriage is one of those challenges. You will not have an enjoyable sexual relationship within your marriage unless you work for it. They will provide a safe, mature environment for discussing the intimate difficulties in your marriage.
How-to-fix-sex-problems Flickr user bravenewtraveler
Christian-counseling-low-sexual-desire Flickr user andrewmalone