Guess what? Just because this is more common than not, it doesn’t mean it is something to ignore. Similar reasoning may occur when visiting your primary care provider with a complaint about X and you are told, ‘Well, you aren’t getting any younger; that symptom is common.’ I think we all feel similarly, if two individual sex drives are not matched, negative consequences are unescapable unless addressed.
Why does sexual interest dwindle in marriages? The most common reasons are inevitable physical changes due to aging (women struggling through menopause, physical illnesses affecting sex hormones, weight gain making one feel unattractive, etc.) Another common reason is what John Gottman, author of many excellent books on marriage, terms negative COMPs (or negative comparisons). Whether imaginary or not, the less invested partner begins to turn away with thoughts of, ‘Charlotte (my receptionist) would never treat me like this, or Sean (my colleague) always asks me how I am doing’ and thus, their love deposits into the ‘marriage account’ begin to dwindle and the couple soon find themselves in the ‘negatives’. Negative sentiment override ensues on the relationship. Partners begin to lose respect for one another.
However, despite the fact that about 15 percent of heterosexual couples over the age of 45 stop having sex, many couples state that this lack of interest in sex doesn’t take away from their strength as a couple. However, if one or both partners do not take heed of the warning signs, then rejection will overtake the marriage, and the road back to intimacy will be a long one.
To feel rejected in any aspect of life, whether that be sexual, emotional, or collegial is extremely wounding and will impact you in the form of trauma. Many small traumas over the course of lifetime are just as impactful as one large trauma. The ‘trust metric’ plummets quickly and one begins to view life in a non-secure manner.
The good news is this can be entirely sidestepped and repaired with open, truthful conversations to which emotions are shared in a respectful loving manner. Curiosity and compassion weaved within these conversations will make for a beautifully patterned security blanket.
Sexual unhappiness is real and should not go unaddressed. Just like every other betrayal listed in this series, if left to work out on its own it may become unrepairable.
If you are unable to book an appointment, but need help, remember the Ask Me Anything option on my website. No question is ever a dumb question. If you find yourself struggling in the game of love, chances are others are fumbling the ball as well.
“To feel rejected in any aspect of life, whether that be sexual, emotional, or collegial is extremely wounding.”
Bottom line, rejection is traumatizing. To feel rejected emotionally is deeply painful and lives within our tissues. If you feel this way even once, it is once too many. Open conversation is the best antidote for such a communication pathology. Having more uncomfortable conversations in your marriage will allow more green flags to appear, and before you know it, you will be in the fast lane towards a loving and healthy relationship.