3 Strategies to Revive Your Sex Life

There's no getting around it; sex is a vital part of most marriages. So what happens when one or more parties lose interest -- or never had it to begin with? Research says these unions are more likely to fail. (After money, sex is the number one reason couples divorce.) But it doesn't have to get that far. In her book The Sex-Starved Marriage, Michele Weiner Davis suggests three strategies for improving your sex life and preserving your relationship.

The Do-It-Yourself Solution

No matter how much your spouse loves you or wants to please you, s/he might never have the same sex drive as you. Therefore, it's unreasonable for you to expect your spouse to be at your beck and call every time you feel sexual. You need to take responsibility for satisfying your own needs from time to time. In all likelihood, you are already doing this, and you don't need me to tell you to do it. However, you might be feeling resentful about it, and that's not fair. Although it is my hope that your spouse will invest more energy into your sexual relationship, there will still be times when you're ready to roll and s/he isn't. That's normal, and you need to accept it. As long as your spouse is making more of an effort to understand and care for you and your needs, you need to work harder at accepting your differences. And part of this acceptance entails taking care of yourself occasionally and feeling fine about it. This will be easier for you to do once you truly feel your spouse cares about you and your feelings. And hopefully, if that isn't happening already, it will, very soon.

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Perhaps your sex life has become routine. Boredom is an industrial-strength sexual desire dampener. Even the most highly sexed person can begin to feel ho-hum about sex if it's always the same old thing. If this rings true of your sexual relationship, it might be time for you to try to spice things up a bit. You need to be creative to avoid sexual boredom. Try a new location, rent a hotel room, experiment with new positions, buy new lingerie, rent a sexy video, try a hot bath, candles and a massage. Cast your inhibitions to the wind.

Kellie complained that she was losing desire because she was having trouble feeling aroused. It took her considerably longer to have an orgasm, and when she did, it wasn't as strong as orgasms had been in the past. She found herself feeling more and more disinterested each time her husband approached her. She wondered if it was because of her age -- she was fifty-two -- and whether she should consider taking hormone supplements.

Kellie was menopausal, and it was entirely possible that biological causes were at the root of her sexual difficulties and lack of desire. However, I also wondered about the quality of her sexual relationship with her husband. Kellie confessed to feeling bored. Their lovemaking had become routine and unexciting. Because her mind would drift during their sexual encounters, she found it challenging to maintain feelings of arousal.

I suggested that she talk to her husband about her feelings and for them to plan ways to introduce some novelty into their time together. Kellie discussed what had turned her on in the past -- dressing up, varied positions and locations in their home -- and agreed to start doing that again. When Kellie returned that following week, she reported that she had no problems with arousal. She had several strong orgasms, just like in the good old days. Apparently, getting out of their sexual rut was just what the doctor ordered.

If All Else Fails, Be Brutally Honest

I've worked with countless couples where one spouse was so dissatisfied with their sexual relationship that eventually s/he decided to have an affair or leave the marriage. You might be thinking of these alternatives too. Affairs and divorce are lousy solutions. Even if an affair satisfies you temporarily (and it might; newness is a great aphrodisiac), it will only create more problems in the long run. Although an affair can serve as a wake-up call to the low-desire spouse, you can't always count on this. Affairs can also destroy your marriage. And even if your marriage survives, the pain an affair causes is immeasurable.

Divorce isn't a good solution either. It destroys families forever. Plus, if you run from your problems rather than work them out, you might find a more sexually compatible spouse, but since no relationship is problem free, you'll find yourself with a new set of problems in no time flat. The grass truly isn't greener on the other side, even if the other side is more sexually attractive.

However, as the more highly sexed person, you might be at the end of your rope. You might be fantasizing about someone else or about packing your bags and leaving. Before you decide to have an affair or leave, I implore you to make sure your spouse knows in no uncertain terms the seriousness of the situation. Make certain s/he understands what will happen if nothing changes. Don't threaten in the heat of an argument. Don't say nasty things. Don't blame. Don't criticize. Just tell your spouse calmly (or write a letter) that because of the differences in your sexual appetite, you are so unhappy that you are considering doing something you really don't want to do. Spell out what you've been thinking about. Tell your spouse that this is not a threat, but that you are so desperate, you don't know what else to do. Ask your partner one more time to seek help. Then wait and see what happens.

Reprinted with permission from The Sex-Starved Marriage. Copyright © 2004 by Michele Weiner Davis (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY).

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