When Did Sex in Your Marriage Start to Go Off the Rails?


sexual-intimacy-off-the-railsOccasionally, I hear from people whose sexual intimacy struggles began abruptly.

But the more common narrative is that struggles with sex started gradually.

Maybe after children arrived on the scene. Or as work responsibilities started mounting. Or as the romance and newness inherent with falling in love and being newly married started to fade.

If sex has been a struggle in your marriage, especially for awhile now, can you look back and see when sex in your marriage started to go off the rails?

Maybe there is one cause or a combination of causes—a perfect storm of circumstances where one or both of you started to lose interest in sex. It’s painful to think about it, particularly for the spouse who has hungered for more nurtured sexual intimacy. But deep down it’s painful all the way around for the relationship.

Of course, being partial to second questions, I also want to ask, “If sex went off the rails in your marriage, what will it take to get it back on track?”

I don’t know your particular situation, but obviously you do. My hope is there is viable possibility that sexual intimacy can once again be part of your marriage. 

The two generalities I will offer are these.

ONE: You’re probably way beyond having any success with hinting at change.

My guess is that whether you are the one who has wanted more intimacy or you are the one who has pushed it to the side, subtly hasn’t moved the gauge. One or both of you need to be intentional about shining some light on the issue. Express your concerns clearly, including how the lack of intimacy has affected the relationship. 

TWO: Getting back on track isn’t going to happen overnight.

I know you know this, but it is worth mentioning. Just like with a literal train derailment, simply acknowledging the derailment doesn’t fix it. Lots of work goes into fixing the situation. You may even need to call in some professionals (like a counselor), as well as devote extra attention to all the messy debris.

No surprise that the longer sex in your marriage has been off the rails, the harder it may be to heal the pain and rebuild trust and closeness. Because it can be hard, lots of couples don’t do it. And sometimes couples don’t do it because only one spouse wants to restore sexual intimacy. One spouse alone can’t do it. Both have to have skin in the game, so to speak.

When did sex in your marriage start to go off the rails? Could you courageously address this question with your spouse, with the goal initially just being a conversation?

You could even couch it that way—“I just want us to be able to have a calm conversation about this, because I love you. I want us to be able to talk about this.”

It’s a start. Just like with a literal train derailment, the people cleaning it up have to start somewhere. So start somewhere.

For more reading, you can cruise through my list of past posts, as well as my page with a bunch of posts on orgasm.

Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized. Never want to miss one of my posts?  Subscribe via email on this page.  And be sure to join my more than 10,000 followers on my Facebook page and 11,000 followers on Twitter.

3 thoughts on “When Did Sex in Your Marriage Start to Go Off the Rails?

  1. Tired Dad says:

    Been married 27 years. Honestly I never really had a super high sex drive, and my wife was very naive and restrictive (religious) on what was allowed. Even things like limited or no oral at all. Even as newlyweds I was fine with just once a month or so. Never was a multiple times/week person.

    3 kids later, still raising a tween and we are in our 50’s. Add in ED, many years of supporting both of our parents with severe health issues….Frankly I’m tired and if I could I’d be in bed every night at 9. Sex? I’m here as a guy saying it’s not a priority and is just one more thing on my to-do list.

    Sex DOES NOT help me wind down or relieve stress. It adds to that because after an 18 hour day (I’m up at 5 and start work at 6, going until 4 or 5pm), then handling issues for our parents, handle issues for the kids, make dinner (we split this 50/50) I’m just all used up. Add in on the weekends we have all kids activities and the house maintenance issues (yards, etc) for not just our house, but our parents. My wife has never had a job outside the home, but has been a great SAHM for our kids.

    The only time somebody is not needing my services is when I’m sleeping. Sleeping/bedtime is my only sanctuary and adding the request for sex into this is just invading the only “me” time I get.

    I’m not alone. Most of my friends are in the same situation. Sex? Where do all you people get the time and energy?

  2. Lonnie says:

    Tired Dad. I hear you and feel the challenge you have. We aren’t a 50/50 house. My wife and I both work outside the home. She travels a ton for work. She comes home from a long road week fired up for sex (she is higher drive) and all I’m ready to do at that point is close the door and fall asleep after getting the kids to bed. I try my best to meet her needs. I ask for rain checks (with a specific suggestion for when… Like how about in the morning. Or can we have a date night on Saturday?)
    That isn’t always met happily but I have to try to be honest with her. Mornings are better for me. You leave so early but maybe that’s a possibility?
    But yeah. You are not alone.
    So many people of all genders struggle with this.

  3. James Tollison says:

    In my marriage? I’ve been married almost 37 years, and I’ve never been able to really penetrate her. She has always claimed that all she feels is “pain and pressure.” Took her to a gynecologist, even had a small operation, but nothing. Even passing menopause, where she wouldn’t have to fear pregnancy, didn’t make a difference. I’m sure she wants things to be better, but no idea how. I’ve just had to accustom myself to the situation and live with it. I can get her off by clitoral stimulation, but she can’t seem to get how to get me off either orally or manually. So here we are in our 60’s, no children, no grandchildren. This is not the way I had pictured it in my 20’s, believe me.

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