Losing Love and Sex while Married

By C. Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Why do so many people lose love and sex while losing their marriage? Research shows many different factors that lead to relationship failure but let’s make it personal and explore some hidden reasons that move couples from ‘happy ever after’ to over to shattered dreams and hatred.

Jessica and Phillip have been dating six months. They spend long nights together talking about how good things are for them. It feels like they have shared their entire life’s history with each other, so Phillip eventually asks Jessica to marry him. They feel so “in love”, that she instantly says “yes”! Soon they are off to see their pastor for premarital counseling. They discuss finances, children, careers, houses, and in-laws as they map out what it would be like as they begin their lifetime together. One summer day they stand before God and their friends in a little church to say “I do”. Ironically, less than a year later they were in a counseling office complaining about all the things that are wrong with each other.

What went wrong?

Many couples wonder how they could have spent so much time together before the wedding and then completely miss the challenges that show up after the ceremony. They enthusiastically began the journey toward a lifetime of intimacy but get discouraged and sidetracked along the way. Many couples lack a true understanding of the deepest needs of their partner, including an understanding the important issue of communication, trust, romance, sexuality and how these factors all relate to marital intimacy.

I believe that God created men and women to be in an intimate relationship. In Genesis 2:18, God recognized that Adam’s deepest needs were not being met and said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Humans were created with needs that could only be met through an intimate relationship. God designed us to long for and receive love and acceptance from others. This begins in childhood when we look into our mom or dads eyes and their face reflects love and acceptance back to us. As infants, we should receive nurturing from our parents to meet our physical and emotional needs. If our needs are met in loving caring ways, then we grow to feel secure and loved and accepted. The problem is that many people are raised in families that don’t know how to love and nurture and reflect God’s love because of their own wounded emotions. It’s like the old saying…

Hurt People – Hurt People

Many people don’t even know what is wrong or missing in their lives or relationships but still spend a great deal of time and energy looking for it. That’s why people who are single spend so much time searching for someone to spend life with. Having someone accept us in a dating relationship leads to the normal expectation that we are going to get that deepest longing fulfilled in marriage a relationship can only be as healthy as the people in it.

Sex does not equal intimacy

Many people equate sexuality and intimacy. Nothing could be further from the truth! The physical intensity of experiencing sex is only a reflection of one part of a relationship. You may be asking, “How could a couple like Jessica and Phillip ever learn about intimacy and how to meet each other’s needs?” Well they have to start through understanding each other. Then they need to communicate their needs to each other. And frankly for most of us it will be impossible to really connect at the deepest level of a relationship, which is about trust, not sex.

Building a spiritual and emotional connection is the best way to meet your partners needs, because God can give you the strength to reach out in love to your mate even if your own needs are not currently being met. If Jessica begins to meet Phillip’s needs then Phillip will be “able” to respond back and begin to meet Jessica’s needs. It may seem backwards because our culture demands that we get our own needs met before we begin to meet someone else’s needs. Take care of yourself first, and if there is any energy left over, then reach out to help your partner. The truth is someone has to start the healing process toward marital connection, especially when things aren’t going well, and that someone is usually the healthiest one, which may be you!

There are countless books that deal with identifying our deepest and most intimate needs. They list the qualities of acceptance, affection, appreciation, approval, attention, comfort, encouragement, respect, security, and support. Take a moment to look over this list and pick out your own top three needs. Then guess your partner’s top three needs. Intimacy is described as “in-to-see-me”. If you take a risk and become vulnerable then you can share who you really are, and what you need. Once you feel safe enough to share those needs and feelings with your partner you will begin to experience intimacy in the relationship. Greater emotional and spiritual intimacy is the hidden key to achieving greater sexual intimacy. It starts on the inside psychologically and then flows into the physical. Basically deep intimacy starts in the brain before it ever flows into the feelings of romance or sexuality.

How can I communicate my deepest needs to my partner?

A very useful communication tool is the “I Message”. It goes like this. “I feel hurt when you talk to me in that tone of voice because it’s disrespectful and it doesn’t seem like you care about my feelings.”

“What I need is for you to approach me using respectful words or hugs. Using an “I Message,” communicates your deepest needs without attacking, blaming, criticizing or creating an argument. It is an appropriate way to share your deepest needs, which is the key to a more intimate relationship.

So, what is intimacy?

It is more than sex, and more than just being open with each other. It is learning to communicate at the deepest level of feelings, opinions, dreams and hopes about the future. It is about building closeness through the world of ideas, sharing moments of beauty, creating a playful and flirty life together, whether it is a date together or working on daily tasks. It is being able to face struggles, differences, problems and pain together and growing closer for having shared the experience. Many couples, like Jessica and Phillip, begin by sharing hours of talking, but their conversations are about surface events, entertainment or other peoples’ actions and opinions. Sometimes couples share their opinions, but unless they share their honest emotions and hopes for the future, they have not really experienced the depth of intimacy in communication needed for a fulfilling relationship that will last through riches and poverty, sickness and health, until death ends a lifetime of love.

If you long for this type of an intimate relationship or are experiencing difficulties in your marriage- don’t’ panic. I believe God designed marriages to succeed, so if you really want to have the best relationship possible He will show you the way. If things aren’t going well you may need some outside help because if you knew how to fix it on your own, you would have already done it. I challenge you to get help before you or your partner gets discouraged to the point of despair and gives up. There are professionals who can help you get back on track to enjoy an intimate marriage and the love of a lifetime that you deserve.

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"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group eNews (Copyright, 2004-2009), receive this valuable weekly resource by subscribing at www.LifeWorksGroup.org "About the author- C. Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.

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