How do you know if your married sex life has hit the skids?  What is the proper number of times a week anyway?  Let’s start with some numbers: According to the Kinsey Institute, most married couples in America between the ages of 24-49 have sex about once a week.  26% are doing it 2-3 times per week.  And then there are the mythical 3% who are doing it 4 or more times per week.  God bless you, gentlemen.

But what about the 23% doing it once a month?  Or those couples who haven’t had sex at all in the past year? Welcome to the frozen tundra known as “The Dead Bedroom”.

When you first hear the phrase, it’s enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. If you’re like most married men, you’ve probably experienced a dry spell in your relationship, maybe a couple of weeks, maybe a few months at the worst. But what if that funk became the new normal?

“It started as many deaths do, not with a skidding crash, but little bit by little bit.”

Here’s a redditor who calls himself “Pastanazgul” describing how his married sex life hit the rails and his bedroom went corpse-cold: “Passionate kisses on the way out the door gave way to pecks in the hallway as we made oatmeal for the kid and got her ready for school. Nights cuddled up on the couch with wandering hands gave way to checking homework, checking emails, flipping laundry and working out bills. It was not my fault.  It was not hers.  Life simply changed.  When we got together, we were teenagers and our to-do list for the day consisted of meeting our herb guy, and going to blockbuster.  We fucked like rabbits and enjoyed it. We laid naked in bed until late in the afternoon if we wanted to, and we wanted to often. Now, as thirty-somethings, any given Saturday consists of going to the kid’s friends’ birthday party, getting a new AC filter from Home Depot, fixing that downspout that keeps popping a seam every time it rains, making sure we get to the farmers market for the local honey that keeps our daughter’s allergies at bay, and still try to leave time for the dishes, laundry and detritus that accumulates with a mind of it’s own.

Reduced - Dad asleep w 2 kids - PAUL - FLICKR

Paul/Flickr

We were dead tired.  The idea of sex, passion and tenderness seemed like an unimportant distant memory. I wasn’t happy, she wasn’t happy. We were both good, kind people. We deserved to be happy.”

“If you get on well out of bed, half the problems of bed are solved.” – Peter Ustinov

Obviously, when the physical aspect of a relationship goes cold, the effects can be devastating.  Usually there is one person in the couple who has the lower libido and one who has the higher.  Their reactions are different, and it’s the higher libido person who grows more frustrated and dissatisfied in the relationship.  This can lead to depression, anger and even infidelity. Luckily, dead bedrooms can be resurrected.  And even if your bedroom isn’t quite dead yet, but is on life support, consider implementing some of these ideas sooner rather than later:

Solution #1: Scheduling Sex

Sex Calendar 2Many of us have a grandiose vision of sex being spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous, passionate, unplanned.  And if it is, great.  But the fact is, there are many accounts that show using scheduling in your married sex life actually works.  Here’s how one couple uses scheduling to thaw the ice: “We pick a mutually agreed upon date and time to have sex, and stay committed to that date.  Even if neither of us is feeling particularly horny at that date and time, we go through with it anyways to avoid slacking off and getting lazy about the system.  Now I know that this all sounds incredibly unromantic, and believe me, I had the exact same concerns.  However, we have yet to have an unpleasant experience with this system. The good thing about scheduling is you don’t have to stick with it forever.  It can be a short-term, jump-start technique to get the engines going.

Solution #2: Sex Toys

Upscale Chic Lingerie Store

morebyless/Flickr

It’s not a $15 billion dollar industry for nothing. The fact is sex toys work for many couples.  And sales are on the rise.  Wall street analysts attribute the growth of the industry to the ease and privacy of on-line buying.  No longer do you have to drive to the “porn store” to make that embarrassing face-to-face purchase.  Nowadays, you can even log on to Amazon.com and buy a Fleshlight.  (We’d provide a link below, but then we’d have to deal with some awkward purchase suggestions).  According to University of Wisconsin Madison Professor John DeLamater, one of the main reasons for the decline is a lack of novelty. It’s called “habituating” to your partner, and the longer you live with them, the more habituated to their presence you get, and the less attracted to them you become.  Sounds depressing, but usually this effect takes 30 years or more to set in.  In a dead bedroom, however, habituation may be occurring at a faster rate.  And one way for overcoming habituation is increasing novelty through role play and sex toys.  If you’ve never used toys in your married sex life, it could be a little intimidating.  But when you’re trying to save your relationship, it may be worth trying something literally “out-of-the-box.”

Solution #3: Exercise

REDUCED Couple in Park excercise - Shutterstock

There is a proven direct link between sex and exercise. When you exercise, the brain produces endorphins that stimulate the release of sex hormones. These hormones reduce your heart rate, improve digestion, lower cortisol levels and relax the body.  Engage in cardiovascular exercise with your partner, and you will find your desire almost doubles.  Strength training has benefits too, as it contributes to spikes in testosterone – the hormone of arousal.  And finally, there is yoga, which has caught on like wildfire across the country.  Focusing your mind and tuning into your senses in a yoga class can work wonders for your sex life – not to mention, improve flexibility for trying new positions.  In general, engaging in physical activity improves self-esteem and immunity, helps you manage a healthy weight, and increases stamina and energy – all the ingredients for a healthy libido.

Solution #4: Sex Therapy

Dr Ruth Reduced

Everett Collection/Shutterfly

Guys don’t usually want to sit on a couch and reveal their intimate thoughts and feelings to a shrink. But sex therapy works.  Sometimes having a 3rd person to nudge you both together is all that a couple needs.  One famous sex therapist, Dr. Laura Berman, puts her clients through a series of ‘assignments’, like buying a sex toy together, taking a tantra class, even going to a Bounce U type of place and being silly together.  Basically shit you would never do own your own.  Sure, it’s bound to move any man out of his comfort zone.  But if you think you’ve really reached the end of the road, but you aren’t ready to walk away from the relationship, consider giving it a shot with a reputable sex therapist.

Solution #5:  Buy A Sponge

Sink

Conor Lawless/Flickr

What if there was something you could do in your own house, something you may do anyway, something that would magically thaw the chill in your bedroom?  Remember Pastanazgul from the beginning of the article?  Turns out, he was able to save his dead bedroom using a simple scrub sponge: “I came up with a plan.  A daring, throw-caution-to-the-wind plan.  A Utah beach in Normandy on June 6th kind of plan.  I was going to become a superhuman cleaning machine.  I would push my limits of domestic ability.  When I came home tired, and all I wanted (and deserved) to do was sit down on the couch, I would resist.  I did dishes, flipped laundry, helped with math homework, swept, mopped, vacuumed, cleaned mirrors, scrubbed toilets.  All with the reckless abandon of a crazy person. I’d listen to entire albums in my headphones while I put armies of cleaning crews to shame.  I’d bring her her tablet and a glass of wine and make sure she relaxed.  Her smile was the reward. I wasn’t looking for sex, or a blow job, or even a hand job.  I was looking for her smile. I got it. Soon, my get-home-and-clean routine became second nature.  It was just a part of the day.  I got faster at it, and things improved.  She saw that I was putting in the effort to make her life easier, and I saw her appreciation.  Appreciation turned to affection, affection turned to attraction and before I knew it, we were spending time together. Not just in the same room, but together. We talked about things that we hadn’t talked about in years, discussing ideas and opening up to each other.  We connected better.  We wanted to be around each other, and we craved each other. In conclusion, it turned out that all it took to revive the dead bedroom was persistence and a little elbow grease.

Summary

Couple In Bed - REDUCEDMarriage isn’t static.  Moods and attractions shift all the time. Which means your married sex life is going to have as many ups and downs out of the bedroom as it will in the bedroom. Try using techniques like scheduling, boosting each other’s self esteem, introducing sex toys and contributing on the domestic front to help inject a shot of adrenaline into your relationship.  With a little effort and the right methods, experts believe you can jolt any dead bedroom back to life.    

About The Author

Michael Berman

Husband and father of two who works as a professional writer, having sold screenplays to Sony, Disney, MGM and Showtime among others. Always on the look out for solid, useful information to share with other parents on Chilldad.com.

7 Responses

  1. Jim

    It is interesting that Reddit Dead Bedrooms is mentioned, since the solutions mentioned above are relentlessly debated there, with almost zero positive results. Even a cursory reading of Dead Bedrooms will reveal the hopelessness, helplessness, and abject loneliness of the poor souls (like me) in truly sexless marriages.

    Solution #1: Scheduling Sex- requires both spouses to participate. Doesn’t work without cooperation.

    Solution #2: Sex toys- Again, requires cooperation. Though helpful for solo play I suppose.

    Solution #3: Exercise- Good advice, at least for the individual. Sex however, requires cooperation.

    Solution #4: Sex Therapy- Sounds like a great solution, and will benefit the relationship for anything BUT sex. Worth doing, but don’t expect sex to resume, at least not in the first 20 years of therapy.

    Solution #5: Housework, otherwise known as “Choreplay”. This one comes up over and over again. You will exhaust yourself, and your partner MAY be grateful, and appreciate the added time and energy this gives them, but this will be applied to anything BUT sex. Also, the quid pro quo nature of this “solution” may be viewed in a resentful way, as in “oh, if you do more work, I’m supposed to give you sex? What am I, a prostitute?”

    I, like others, scour the internet searching for any morsel of something that will help, but alas, it is not to be. Articles like these are written and posted, and rarely reviewed again by the original writer who has gone on to other things. They become echo chambers of loneliness.

    In the end, there are but three solutions to sexless relationships:

    Leave, Cheat, or Suffer.

    6 years and counting. It will end. Eventually.

    Reply
  2. Angel

    My husband is a nympho or at least he was before me. I have yet to see his libido match mine. I initiate or make time and he picks kids over me. ts depressing. He watches porn and looks at other women online. I dress up i love our swing, cant get him to help with the hard stuff or house work and he works third shift. We are in our fourtys and im hjust vering i like sex, with him. But feel im to boring and mainly unattractive to him even tho he says this is not the case all he does is sleep. So im not sure what to do ive tried all but therapy which he would refuse. And if i bring it up n try to tralk about it. Somehow im the bad guy. Ive thought he might be having an ffair but thats to easy. He works seven days a week. I just dont feel like a priority emotionally or physically.

    Reply
  3. Zak

    I honestly believe we could never have sex again and my wife wouldn’t care less. I can’t even get her to talk about sex and does not make any effort on making time.

    Reply
    • Jake

      My wife never wants to have sex and when we do she will say something like will you chill out if we have sex. I think if I never had sex with her again she wouldn’t even care.

      Reply
  4. Jayson

    I like the article and hope it helps people like myself in a dead bedroom. I have brought up the idea of solution 1 but my wife won’t go for it because it isn’t fun and she doesn’t prioritize sex at all. Solution 2 is out of the question too as my low libido wife is not comfortable discussing sex toys let alone using one. Solution 3 I can do myself but my wife had active Tuberculosis and has scarred lungs. As such she refuses to do any sort of exercise because she gets out of breath easily. Solution 4 I have mentioned going to couples therapy or sex therapy and she refuses because she says that a stranger is not going to be able to help. She also said that they would just make it all out to be her fault and so she is not comfortable going to therapy.

    So that leaves me with Solution 5. *sigh* I guess I need to buy a sponge…

    Reply

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