How to cope with a lack of sex in marriage

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Most couples experience ups and downs in their sexual appetites, but when is it a sign of a problem? Licensed clinical therapist Rachel Sussman explains what's normal and what might be cause for some concern.

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  • Rachel Sussman LCSW

    Rachel Sussman LCSW Marriage and Family Therapist Rachel Sussman, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and marriage/family therapist. She has helped people improve their emotional well being, enhance their ability to engage in interpersonal relationships, and take control of their lives. more about this expert »

this month: World Health Day
How to cope with a lack of sex in marriage It's very common for couples to experience a significant dip in their sex lives. It can be the sign of a relationship problem, but it isn't necessarily. Rachel offers us the following advice on ways to cope with a lack of sex in our relationships.
  • How often should couples have sex? A recent study found that two to three times a week in a long term relationship is considered normal and average.
  • Each couple should have their own rhythm, so if they’re both very sexual that’s a nice average, but in a couple who both have a lower sexual drive, one or two times a week is fine.
  • What’s the basic problem between couples when one or both partners feel there is a lack of sex? There are lots of different sources. It's important to find out if it’s a sex problem or a relationship problem manifesting itself as a sex problem.
  • Can couples have a good relationship without much sex? If you’re a cool couple where both have a lower sex drive and it’s never been important to either, that’s fine. The problem is when you have different sex drives that aren’t compatible.
  • When should a couple see a therapist about their sex life? First, try to work it out through communication and some interventions. But if you’ve tried to work it out, and can't, and therefore are beginning to feel rejected, upset, and it's harming your self -esteem, it may be time to call a professional.
  • A good professional will work with a couple and be very straight with you and tell you if they can help. If it’s a medical problem they’ll refer you to a doctor, or a sex therapist if they think it’s completely a sexual problem. If there’s an underlying emotional problem that will come up and be dealt with.
  • Can you have a good relationship without a good sex life? Sex that’s agreeable to both parties is a one key ingredient to a good relationship, sex problems are a barometer of a possible relationship problem.
  • Couples commonly experience a lack of sex right after having a baby.
  • When should you be alarmed? When you start to feel something’s wrong; maybe you’re missing sex, or maybe you're not. That’s the time to sit down and start to talk to your partner about what you can do together as a team to get it back on track.

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