Was There a Lightbulb Moment You Knew Sex in Your Marriage Was Dying?


lightbulb-moment-sex-is-dyingMaybe it wasn’t a lightbulb moment. For many people, sexual intimacy dying is more of a slow fade.

My mom tells the story of the thermal security blankie I carried around as a toddler. It slowly began to unravel, but I didn’t grasp what was disappearing before my eyes. Then one day while vacuuming, she accidentally sucked up the few remaining strands.

The slow fade of sexual intimacy in marriage can be kind of like that. One day it’s there. One day it’s gone. But it was slowly disappearing all along.

For others, the lightbulb moment is precipitated by an event or sudden recognition that things are far worse than you previously thought. An affair. A particularly cruel conversation about sex. A harsh refusal. An unfiltered comment. A confession.

And still for others, it’s a complex mix—the perfect storm where sex has become like a contender that can no longer stay in the ring with the two of you. You’re battle worn. Your spouse is battle worn. And sexual intimacy taps out of the fight.

In my line of work, the comments and emails that wreck my heart the most are the ones where one or both spouses just know. They know sex is dying, maybe beyond salvage. Or they know sex is already dead, and resurrecting it feels too risky or too impossible.

I have to give voice to this every now and then.

And I’m an optimist to the core, so you can imagine how hard it is for me. You can imagine how my propensity is to think sex in every marriage will be made whole and healthy.  (To my credit, I always am thinking it can be. I just know it doesn’t always happen—even if it could have happened.)

I am humbled when people want to share their stories with me, a mere stranger—someone just typing away in her small home office in the middle of the United States, passionately and enthusiastically unpacking the value of phenomenal sexual connection in marriage.

Yes, I am humbled when people want to share their stories. I learn from the victories when people turn things around and once again breathe sexual passion into their marriage.

And I learn from the sadness and profound heartache when someone concedes it’s just not going to happen for their marriage. More often than not, it doesn’t happen because only one spouse is lobbying for nurtured intimacy and the other doesn’t share that desire. Those stories in particular grieve me. But I learn from them.

Was there a lightbulb moment you knew sex in your marriage was dying?

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.

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4 thoughts on “Was There a Lightbulb Moment You Knew Sex in Your Marriage Was Dying?

  1. afriend says:

    It’s not dead!
    I’ll pick up on your optimism Julie and declare that, then I’ll try and do something about it. I’ve found Gary Thomas’s book Cherish really helpful for trying to get my side of things sorted. Very proud to have read a book on marriage that doesn’t have a chapter specifically about sex.
    Keep banging the drum. There was no lightbulb moment, just a slow fade but no understanding of the emotional connection.

  2. Tom says:

    Yep. 2 years after our first child was born. I knew sex would take a back seat when he was an infant, but he was a very easy baby by all accounts. However, my wife’s interest in sex completely disappeared and showed no signs of returning. And to top it off, for our anniversary that year she got me a couple of “sex position” books – which twisted the knife further because I knew damn well she had no interest in actually *trying* any of those things (and sure enough, 10 years later, I was right…)

    And that is when I knew I was up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

  3. Running Deeper says:

    Another good post Julie. Thanks.

    From my humble perspective, I’ve always been the one with the greater sex drive (until just recently when my wife experienced a sexual awakening and now seems to have a greater drive than me!) and so if I didn’t bring it up or initiate then it wouldn’t happen until it had been over a week without sex and my wife would then initiate. I think I just gradually let go of my desire for sex!

    My lightbulb moment came when my wife asked me: “Honey, why don’t you wants sex anymore?” My response was, “I do!”. She then said that unless she initiates we don’t have sex (and this was true). She asked me if I was okay, if I was struggling, etc. I came to realise that my initiating actually provided a safe place for her and helped her to know I was okay (I come from a sexually abused background!).

    I started working on this and taking a better lead. Now we probably equally share taking the initiative when it comes to having sex.

    Just to note… our discussions regarding the lack of sex almost always came back to discussing her not having such a high drive as I did. Recently she shared with me how she thought there was something wrong with her and that’s why she had a lower drive. Thats all changed now. So grateful for hard, honest, open discussions which have almost always been difficult for me to engage in. This is all changing now…

  4. Ben says:

    I knew when I stopped asking for sex and the frequency didn’t change. She gets it when she wants it, and that’s all I’m gonna get. Used to be 3 times a month now it is every other month and half of those are just for her. It is worse when every few months she berates herself for being a bad wife in this department and still nothing changes.

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