After 10 years of marriage, certain things have become “off-limits” in the bedroom – leaving this husband furious after making a shock discovery.
Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred. This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie tackles a husband annoyed by his wife’s failure to use her sex toy, a man suffering from premature ejaculation and whether it is OK to cheat if you and your partner haven’t had sex in years.
HUBBY FUMING OVER WIFE’S UNUSED SEX TOY
QUESTION: My wife and I have been together for 10 years. We have a really good relationship. She’s a great mother and we’re really like best friends. Things have just become a little stale in the bedroom. We definitely don’t have sex anywhere near as often as we used to and a lot of the things we used to do have become off-limits. I bought a sex toy for her about a year ago hoping that would add some spice to our bedroom, but I’ve never seen it since. Total waste of money. How can I talk to her about using it? Or even get us to do some of the things we used to again? I don’t want to upset her.
ANSWER: It’s often confusing when your sex life begins with passion, excitement and experimentation, but then slips into something that feels routine and flat.
Many couples I speak to have tried exactly what you have – buying a sex toy and hoping it will spice things up. They’ve tried buying lingerie, tried to implement date night or tried talking about it and promised to make an effort. But nothing seems to change.
For many couples, this can be the elephant in the room. Or something they find themselves arguing about regularly. They talk about it, promise to change, but then find nothing happens, until they argue about it a couple of months later.
Why does a couple’s sex life become routine?
Understanding the factors that contribute to this are important to creating change. Every relationship is different, so it’s important to consider the factors impacting you, but here are some of the major factors I notice in my work with couples.
The cocktail of hormones and endorphins we experience at the beginning of a relationship (known as ‘the honeymoon period’) have a significant impact on our desire levels. As these hormone levels return to ‘normal’, we can experience a drop in desire and feel less adventurous regarding sex.
Often around this time, you’re dealing with the stress and realities of daily life. Stress is a major inhibitor of sexual desire for many people. Additionally, a lack of fun and playfulness in our daily lives is reflected by a lack of desire in our bedroom life.
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How can you reignite your spark in the bedroom?
There generally isn’t one magic bullet (like lingerie or a pleasure toy) that helps you do this. Take a holistic approach and you’ll get more satisfying and longer lasting results.
Intimacy begins outside the bedroom
There are so many factors outside the bedroom that increase desire and satisfaction inside the bedroom. The quality of a couple’s connection, communication, the division of household chores, stress levels and playfulness all impact sexual desire and enjoyment.
Make sex a priority
Many women see intimacy with a partner as another ‘chore’ or obligation. It’s so important that couples learn to make this a priority together. This often means changing your attitudes towards sex and creating time for it. Although this can feel easier said than done, it is possible.
Create a culture of open communication around sex
Many couples find talking about sex difficult – and it’s not surprising. We’re not taught how to talk about sex, so we often don’t do it until there’s a problem or unless it’s in an argument.
Being able to talk about sex openly and honestly together helps you understand each other’s needs and desires and work together to create an enjoyable sex life for both of you.
In this culture, you can raise the issue of the sex toy with your wife or find out what she’s open to.
Understand how desire works
Increasing sexual desire requires addressing what blocks desire and increasing ‘sexual accelerators’.
Learn new ways to enjoy yourself
None of us are just born knowing what to do around sex. Keeping things exciting in the bedroom requires a willingness to learn new skills and ways of enjoying ourselves. Sometimes even simple new ways of touching each other or communicating can make a big difference to your enjoyment.
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IT’S ALL OVER TOO QUICKLY, WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
QUESTION: What can I do to stop premature ejaculation? It keeps happening and it feels like the more I worry about it, the worse it gets.
ANSWER: This is a really common cycle with premature ejaculation. The anxiety that you feel about it happening contributes to the likelihood that it will happen.
Premature ejaculation is classified in different ways depending on which situations it occurs in and how long it’s been happening. Treatment varies based on this.
Mindfulness exercises like deep breathing can calm your mind and help your nervous system relax. Being able to communicate with a partner, and having them be understanding and supportive also makes a big difference.
A sexologist or sex therapist can help you better deal with your anxiety and give you behavioural techniques that can help you last longer. Medications are also available.
I’VE BEEN FIVE YEARS WITHOUT SEX, IS IT OK TO CHEAT?
QUESTION: How do you approach a partner who has no interest in intimacy with you? Do you think that a lover is actually a good idea in these cases? My relationship has been five years for me with no intimacy whatsoever. I don’t know how long I can do this.
ANSWER: This sounds like a complicated situation. I’m certainly wondering what’s going on in your relationship that has your partner having no desire. Your distress about the lack of intimacy is certainly understandable.
When sex is important to one partner, it’s important to the relationship too. While there can be many reasons someone loses desire in a relationship, it’s important to address these together, as a team.
While turning to a lover or someone outside the relationship for sex will meet your need for sex, it doesn’t address the underlying issues in your relationship. It might seem like a good solution for you, but it’s probably not one that will benefit you long-term. I’d look at what’s really going on in your relationship instead.
You may like to seek the help of a therapist if that seems too challenging to do on your own.
If you have a question for Isiah, email [email protected]