I often hear couples say that they have “lost interest” in sex. Surprisingly, the average couple doesn’t spend much time having sex, as most couples have sex 24 times a year, which averages out to about twice a month. The truth is that two to four times a month is quite satisfactory for many (not all) couples, especially couples that are raising a family and working full time to float the home financially. Many couples don’t value sex as one of the most important variables of relationship satisfaction, however if there is NO SEX, one or both partners can quickly become dissatisfied, unhappy, and doubtful of their relationship.
There are many variables that can attest to the loss of sexual interest, such as exhaustion, disconnection, lack of intimacy, attraction, or time. Other more complex factors can include a man or a women’s personal relationship with sexuality which can constitute of milieu of complexities in and of itself. And, of course, we must be mindful of how cultural patriarchy, norms, stigmas, and taboos surrounding sex and sexuality inform couples. However, one aspect of maintaining sexual interest that is not recognized with enough social notoriety is how effective communication ignites the emotional and intimate bond between lovers.
Most often sexual interest in long term relationships is directly connected to “how” couples argue, how they repair and communicate their emotions, and if they are showing positive acknowledgement towards each other. In fact, Dr. John Gottman and Julie Gottman have discovered two main differences between happily married couples and unhappily married couples in their 50 years of research. The two main differences they found are that happily married couples successfully REPAIR from arguments and are 5X more positively acknowledging towards each other.
The simple answer to why repairing after an argument and positive acknowledgement are essential ingredients for a happy marriage is because without repair and appreciation, couples can become contemptuous and resentful overtime which research shows indicates a high probability for divorce. The issue is that most couples either don’t repair at all after an argument or they try to repair and end up in a circular argument about who’s “right” and who’s “wrong,” leaving both people feeling frustrated, misunderstood, unheard, and certainly not connected. This type of repair, which is what I like to call “political platform arguing,” is not going to leave any room for romance at the end of the day.
If you’re fighting about who’s right and who’s wrong or trying to prove your point about something, there are only a few ways that can end which is:
1. You both agree to disagree but are still equally as frustrated and misunderstood
2. One partner concedes and loses their voice just to avoid continued argument or
3. The fight escalates again! I always ask my couples, “do you want to be right or be in relationship?” My couples usually look at me cross eyed at first until they learn the emotion focused communication approach; which stays away from right or wrong arguing and instead focuses on three things which are:
1. What did you feel at the time the situation happened
2. What specifically upset you and
3. What specifically would make a difference moving forward.
That is the foundation of emotion focused repair, however there are many more elements the underpin this type of communication approach. The good news is that emotion focused communication is easily learned!
I have worked with thousands of couples that have learned to repair from their arguments successfully, without contempt or resentment building, which is the key. Increasing sexual interest can be conceptualized in many ways, but certainly a couple’s ability to effectively communicate their needs, desires, and wants without criticism or moving into that “right or wrong” paradigm is one of the key foundational elements of increasing intimacy and sexual interest in long term relationships.
Please feel free to check out my Emotion Focused Online Couples Communication and Intimacy E-Course at www.TabooTalkTime.com, attend one of our luxury couple’s retreats, or come visit me at my office in Fort Lauderdale! Check out our “Taboo Talk Time with Dr. Eva” podcast which is all about breaking through societal norms, increasing mental health awareness, and unhinging the taboo for individuals and couples around the world at: Google Play: http://bit.ly/2wbqnIV and iTunes: http://apple.co/2vnYPil