“The dead Bedroom” Lacking Intimacy Sex and Connection – A Guide for Women

Navigating Changes in Sexual Intimacy in Marriage: A Guide for Women

Your Instagram profile: It may showcase youth, beauty, and vitality, but when it comes to lasting love, desire, connection, and sex, life’s lessons often diverge from the superficial. As individuals mature, their behaviours and beliefs about sex, connection, desire, and long-term commitment evolve. The misconception that men solely exist for sex is a myth that dissipates with age and experience.

Discussing men’s decision to abstain from sex within marriage might seem uncommon, yet it’s a crucial topic to address. Contrary to popular belief, many men choose to forgo sexual activity within their relationships. While aging may play a role in diminishing the importance of sex for men, it’s not the sole determinant.

Various factors contribute to the ebb and flow of sexual intimacy in relationships. Depression, medication, stress, health issues, long term addiction/alcohol use, extramarital affairs, waning desire for a partner, past guilt, feelings of failure in life, past sexual trauma, pornography consumption, pain during intercourse, and relationship dissatisfaction, both emotionally and physically, can all influence libido.

Many studies conducted by universities shed light on the prevalence of sexual inactivity among married couples, with significant percentages reporting periods of abstinence. As men age and relationships mature, pressures such as work stress, childcare responsibilities, and financial worries can affect their sexual desire. Prolonged sexual absence in older men may even lead to increased risks of erectile dysfunction and testicular atrophy.

Despite societal expectations, there isn’t a prescribed frequency for sexual activity in relationships. While studies suggest a correlation between once-a-week sex and greater relationship satisfaction, frequency alone doesn’t guarantee fulfillment.

An intriguing aspect of men’s sexual desire is its emotional underpinning. Men often express the need for emotional closeness with their partners before engaging in sexual intimacy. Feeling emotionally connected is paramount for them, serving as a gateway to vulnerability and genuine closeness. Therefore, consistent criticism may foster a lack of closeness and connection.

Recognising that men derive emotional connection and affirmation through sexual activity can provide insight into nurturing intimacy within the relationship. Initiating sex can be a powerful gesture of desire and affirmation for men. However, when advances are rebuffed, men can feel vulnerable and emotionally exposed, interpreting rejection as a rejection of their entire being.

When a man decides sex is no longer a priority, his partner may also feel exposed, rejected, and undesired. As women age and after having children, they may feel less desirable. Their partner’s disinterest in sex may solidify their belief that they are no longer desirable or desired, leading to emotional disconnection and potentially divorce.

Recent data reveals a rise in “grey divorce” among individuals over 50, with factors such as poor communication, lack of emotional support, lack of sexual connection, complacency, addiction/alcohol, excessive focus on career or material possessions, unresolved conflicts, infidelity, and the desire to explore contributing to marital breakdowns.

So, what can women do to navigate these shifts in sexual intimacy?

  1. Foster Open Communication: Initiate candid conversations about sexual needs and desires, allowing both partners to express feelings without judgment.
  2. Acknowledge External Factors: Recognise the influence of stress, mental/physical health issues, or medication on sexual desire. Support partners through challenges.
  3. Respect Boundaries: Understand and respect each other’s boundaries regarding sexual intimacy, prioritising consent and mutual understanding.
  4. Explore Alternatives: Embrace diverse forms of intimacy beyond sexual acts, strengthening emotional bonds through activities like cuddling or shared interests.
  5. Seek Professional Support: Consider seeking guidance from a relationship counsellor if challenges persist, obtaining insights and strategies to navigate intimacy issues effectively. BEFORE you become resentful

Self-care remains essential: Prioritise emotional well-being, validate feelings, and engage in self-care activities nurturing mental and emotional health.

The wrap up: navigating changes in sexual intimacy requires patience, empathy, and open communication. By understanding each other’s needs and actively working towards mutual satisfaction, couples can strengthen their bond beyond physical intimacy. Remember, worth and value extend beyond sexual intimacy; prioritising emotional connection and mutual respect is key to a lifelong fulfilling relationship.

Couple often wait until their relationship is in the “Accident Emergency” zone before they seek help. I strongly advocate for couples to be proactive and reach out to a Relationship specialist before their relationship gets hit by the bus!

Men: Sometimes you get focused on your performance in the bedroom, a word from the wise, most women are not watching your performance. They are feeling the person they love bond with them. Women want sex, but they want to feel a connection, it’s not all about the hot and heavy. The sex you see in porn is not the sex that will win over a heart and secure a relationship long term.

Resist competing with other men, if you feel like you have lost your mojo or edge in the bedroom, it may just be all in your head. Let’s talk about that…

Conversation openers-

  1. Can we have a conversation about the changes in our intimacy? I miss the closeness we shared when we were more sexually active.
  2. I’ve noticed a lack of sexual connection in our marriage, and it’s making me unhappy. Would you be open to attending therapy together so we can address this?
  3. I want to understand your perspective on our lack of sexual intimacy. Are there reasons behind it that I’m unaware of? Let’s talk about how we both feel without judgment.

Couples Therapy Essentials: An open and receptive mindset is key to unlocking growth and healing

In the journey of couples therapy, having an open and receptive mindset is key to unlocking growth and healing. Here’s what you need to know to embark on this transformative experience:

  • Rediscovering Each Other: There’s profound fulfilment in witnessing couples transition from criticism to praise. Progress is evident when emotions flow, and tears are shed, signifying a breakthrough in understanding and empathy. This is evident in our bonding sessions.
  • A Holistic Approach: As therapists, we are not just working with couples; we are mindful of the ripple effects on their children. Imagine a home where parental arguments don’t prompt door-slamming but rather moments of shared affection and cooperation. Every child deserves this nurturing environment.

Crucial aspects for couples aiming to strengthen their relationship and enhance their parenting journey:

  1. Modelling Healthy Relationships: Children learn by example. Maintaining a loving relationship sets a positive model for their future relationships.
  2. Prioritise Your Marriage: Amidst parenting demands, carve out time for each other. Regular date nights, open communication, hobbies, shared interests and intimacy keep the marital bond resilient. Tip: living in a marriage is very different to living a single life
  3. Emotional Connection: Nurture emotional intimacy by showing interest, responsiveness, and expressing affection and appreciation.
  4. Conflict Resolution Skills: Conflict is inevitable, but constructive communication is key. Practice active listening and use “I” statements to navigate disagreements.
  5. Support Each Other as Parents: Share responsibilities, make decisions together, and offer emotional support during tough times. Unity in parenting strengthens the marital bond.

A strong and healthy marital relationship isn’t just about the couple; it’s the cornerstone of effective parenting. Prioritising your marriage and maintaining emotional connection and effective communication create a nurturing environment for both your relationship and your children. Remember, love and self-management all start at home.

5 Tips to Help You Manage Yourself in Conflict:

In many relationships, I hear statements like “when he yells, I shut down” or “when she criticises me, I leave.” There are many reasons why couples disagree on a subjects they are discussing; we are human, we will have differences of opinion.

  1. Recognise the Rub for You: Identify the situations, behaviours, or topics that tend to make your body twitch. Understanding your triggers can help you anticipate and better manage your responses when they arise.
  2. Communicate Effectively: Practice open and honest communication with your partner. Instead of lashing out in anger, express your feelings calmly and assertively. Use “I” statements to express how you feel without blaming or accusing your partner. Tone is very important; keep your voice soft and low.
    Tip: Inside every grown-up man and woman is a happy or sad little boy or girl with a story. Most of the time, people will fight from a place within them that was hurt at some point, and maybe they don’t know why they get so angry so quickly?
  3. Take a Time-Out: When you feel yourself getting angry, take a break from the situation. Step away, take a few deep breaths, or engage in a calming activity to help you regain your composure. This allows you to approach the issue with a clearer mind and avoid saying or doing something you might regret later. If you need to take some time out, let the other person know that you are taking some time, but you will be back.
  4. Use Problem-Solving Skills: Instead of focusing on placing blame, work together with your partner to find solutions to the underlying issues. Practice problem-solving skills such as brainstorming ideas, compromising, and finding common ground. Focus on the problem, not the person.
  5. Seek Professional Help: If anger issues persist and negatively impact your relationship, consider seeking help from a Counselling Therapist. They can provide you with additional coping strategies and support to better manage your emotions and improve your relationship.

Understanding Coercive Control in Relationships

What is Coercive Control? Many have lived in a relationship for years and thought it was normal.

Under the newly approved reforms, coercive control is now classified as a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. This decision follows in the footsteps of New South Wales, making Queensland the second state in Australia to recognise coercive control as a stand-alone criminal offence.

  • Coercive control, a term prevalent in discussions on domestic abuse, denotes a subtle yet grave form of manipulation and abuse within relationships.
  • It encompasses various tactics, manipulation, and psychological abuse aimed at dominating the victim’s thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Recognising Signs of Coercive Control:

  • Isolation: Victims are often cut off from their support networks, rendering them reliant solely on their partner.
  • Threats: Abusers employ intimidation tactics, instilling fear to maintain control over the victim.
  • Gaslighting: Manipulating reality to make the victim doubt their perception and judgment.
  • Economic Control: Taking charge of finances to foster dependency and hinder escape.

Impacts on Victims:

  • Emotional trauma, health consequences, disempowerment, and difficulties in future relationships are common outcomes of coercive control. Some victims eventually turn to alcohol and substance abuse as a way of self soothing.

Available Support Services:

  • Victims can seek assistance from professionals via the Hotline for guidance and emotional support 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or talk to a Counsellor they can help direct the path forward with you.
  • Seeking aid from loved ones can also provide crucial assistance and emotional solace during such challenging times.

Legal Implications and Prevention Strategies:

  • Legal frameworks vary across states regarding the categorisation and treatment of coercive control.
  • It is crucial to educate oneself on the dynamics of healthy relationships and be vigilant about early warning signs of abuse.
  • Setting and respecting boundaries, taking time to understand potential partners, and avoiding rushing into relationships are pivotal preventive measures.

Additional Information sourced from- https://www.act.gov.au/community/domestic-family-and-sexual-violence/types-of-domestic-and-family-violence#Coercive-control-or-controlling-behaviour

Coercive control or controlling behaviour…

Coercive control is not a separate form of family violence. Each perpetrator’s patterns of behaviour towards victim-survivors is controlling behaviour or ‘coercive control’.

The controlling behaviours can:

  • become more intense over time
  • be used to limit a person’s ability to seek help.

Perpetrators who feel entitled to get their way are more likely to use multiple forms of violence, including sexual violence.

Examples include:

  • isolating someone from their family, friends and community
  • supervising or controlling actions or decisions, for example insisting on knowing the victim-survivor’s location and who they are with
  • limiting access to things like transport and money
  • controlling the victim-survivor’s body and appearance by monitoring things like food, sleep and exercise, or telling them what they can or can’t wear
  • extreme jealousy, criticism and sometimes punishment for alleged ‘failures’.
  • manipulating a person so they feel confused and start to doubt themselves; this is sometimes called ‘gaslighting’
  • denying or minimising a person’s claims of abuse and acts of violence
  • blaming the person for what has happened, claiming they brought it on themselves
  • expressing ownership over family members as a form of control
  • threatening to harm the person, their loved ones, their pets or their belongings if they talk to anyone about their experiences, or seek help
  • threatening self-harm if the person talks about their experiences, or seeks help
  • threatening to take legal action against the person.

Conclusion: Coercive control may manifest subtly, but its detrimental effects on victims are profound. Recognising the signs, seeking support, and implementing preventive strategies are essential steps towards combating this form of abuse in relationships.

Embracing the Adventure: Navigating the Journey of Growing Families

As a seasoned couple’s /family counsellor and a mother of three grown daughters, as well as a grandmother of eight wonderful grandchildren, I’ve been blessed with the privilege of witnessing the beautiful yet challenging journey of parenthood. From sleepless nights to joyous milestones, each step along the way has its own set of triumphs and tribulations. Today, I wish to share some insights gleaned from my experiences as a Counselling therapist, a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother with the hope of providing support and guidance to fellow mums and dads on this incredible adventure.

One aspect that often stands out in the journey of parenthood, particularly with the arrival of a second child, is the profound impact it can have on a couple’s relationship. The responsibilities multiply, and the stressors abound, leading to heightened tension and strain. From the exhaustion of caring for both a newborn and a toddler to the dwindling of one’s sex drive, the challenges can feel overwhelming at times.

I vividly recall the days when medical professionals would address me, as the mother, during appointments for our children, seemingly overlooking the presence of my husband in the room. It was a reflection of the societal norms of the time, where mothers were expected to bear the full responsibility of their child’s care, while fathers took on the role of provider. I am very happy to say, “my husband never missed a beat when we were having our babies” he come from a family of eleven children, he knew exactly who he needed to “be” and what he needed to “do” to be a team member of our family. Thank goodness because in the beginning I was anxious and afraid, I needed his emotional and physical support. Sadly, many of my friends back in the 80’s and 90’s did not have progressive husbands and they really struggled.

However, times have changed, and I’m heartened to see more dads actively involved in parenting duties, from attending medical appointments to taking on household tasks.

In today’s fast-paced world, where both parents often juggle careers and childcare responsibilities, the concept of family as a team effort has never been more relevant. Each member plays a vital role in the upbringing of children, and it’s essential to recognise and appreciate the contributions of both parents.

However, amidst the joys of parenthood, there are also numerous stressors that couples may encounter along the way. From shifts in identity to time constraints and financial worries, the journey of growing families can test even the strongest of bonds. Yet, with patience, communication, and mutual support, couples can navigate these challenges and emerge stronger together.

Here are ten common stressors that couples may face on their journey of growing families:

  1. Increased Responsibilities: Balancing the demands of caring for multiple children can lead to conflicts over parenting styles and division of responsibilities.
  2. Shift in Identity: The transition from a couple to a family of four can alter the dynamics of the relationship, requiring adjustments and compromises.
  3. Toddler Dynamics: The arrival of a new sibling can trigger jealousy and disruptions in routines, adding strain to the relationship.
  4. Diminished Sex Drive: The physical and emotional exhaustion of parenting can impact one’s libido, leading to intimacy issues within the relationship.
  5. Limited Time for Couple Activities: Finding time for quality time together becomes challenging amidst the demands of childcare and household chores.
  6. Waning Novelty: The novelty of parenthood may fade with the arrival of a second child, leading to feelings of fatigue and resentment.
  7. Time Constraints: Juggling childcare and work responsibilities leaves little time for personal pursuits or relaxation.
  8. Shifting Priorities: Balancing parental duties, work commitments, and personal interests can strain the relationship.
  9. Increased Organisational Burden: Managing schedules, appointments, and household tasks can lead to feelings of overwhelm and resentment.
  10. Financial Strain: The costs associated with raising children, from childcare expenses to education costs, can add stress to the relationship.

Despite these challenges, there are steps couples can take to strengthen their relationship and navigate this journey together:

  • Communication: Make time for open and honest conversations about your feelings and needs.
  • Prioritise Intimacy & Romance: Reconnect with your partner through small gestures of affection and kindness.
  • Support Each Other: Show appreciation for your partner’s contributions and offer assistance whenever possible. Note to dad… your partner’s body has gone through a war to give birth. You may need you to be more understanding, tender and nurturing toward her. There are a lot of chemical forces at play in a women’s body she may need your help- How to support your wife or partner after birth – Today’s Parent (todaysparent.com)
  • Seek Outside Help: Consider couples counselling or therapy to address underlying issues and develop coping strategies.
  • Adjust Expectations: Accept that parenthood is inherently chaotic and be flexible in your approach.
  • Learn about Yourself: Take time to reflect on your own habits and behaviours, and be willing to adapt and grow as needed. Learning the skill of Self-management is so important.

While the path of growing families may be challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding. By facing these challenges together with patience, empathy, and mutual support, couples can emerge from this journey stronger and more connected than ever before. Remember, you are not alone in this adventure, and with love and dedication, you can weather any storm that comes your way.

Tip: If you have a kind and supportive extended family, ask for their help from time to time.