Michele Weiner-Davis: The Sex Starved Marriage & What To Do About It

In this TEDx talk below, Michele Weiner-Davis, marriage therapist and author of The Sex Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido: A Couple’s Guide, talks about how to get back to a loving and lasting long-term relationship:

We liked her statement: “Healthy relationships are built on mutual care-taking.” When we think about how decisions are made in a marriage, we generally think about mutuality, yet the person in the relationship with the lower libido controls the sexual relationship. When pleads for connection are met with unresponsiveness, the vulnerability on part of the higher libido partner turns into anger and contempt: “anger leads to sexual withdrawal [in the lower libido partner], sexual withdrawal leads to heightened anger, heightened anger leads to sexual anorexia, and on and on. Both people wait for the other person to change, and that’s how marriages go down the drain.”

Solutions? Moving towards your partner in the ways that they need. The lower libido partner may need more affection, but they must also consider what it’s like to be in their partner’s shoes. Despite their own personal feelings, they may “need to adopt the Nike philosophy and ‘just do it,'” says Michele. She explains the reasons: the higher libido partner will be happier, nicer, more present, and more grateful. And the lower libido partner usually remembers, “wait a second, I like sex, too!” The human sexual response cycle has 4 stages. The first is desire – conscious awareness and interest in sex. The second is physical arousal. The third stage is orgasm. The fourth stage is resolution where the body goes back to its normal resting state. For many people – and possibly many lower libido partners – stages 1 and 2 are reversed, in other words their body has to be physically stimulated and aroused in order for their brains to register there is desire. It’s not that these people lack desire, it’s just not compelling enough for them to initiate sex.

Michele offers these 3 take-away lessons:

– Become an expert in your partner’s way of feeling connected to you.

– If you’re with someone who is yearning for more touch, more physical closeness and sex, don’t dismiss those needs. Sex is a powerful way to connect and bond with the person you love.

– When you “get” your partner’s way of connecting to you, you don’t have to fully understand it or agree with it. You just have to embrace it.

No doubt it’s a challenge to put someone else’s needs above your own, she says, but “if more of us took to heart the very crucial idea that we have to take better care of each other, and that we don’t have to be slaves to our own emotions, then we can make this world a more loving place, one marriage, one relationship at a time.”

– Keeley & Nikita

Other posts to check out:

Moving towards your partner instead of away from them

Living like roommates: how did we get here?

Desire Reboot

Asking for what you want in relationships

Who would you be without sex?