Question: “My spouse and I have been married for 6 years. Our sex life has changed in ways that make me wonder if other couples are experiencing the same thing. How would I know if our sex life is normal?”
Many couples are curious about how their bedroom behavior compares to that of other couples. If you are unmarried and concerned about whether or not married sex life will be as hot and steamy as it is during the dating phase, there are a few things you should consider. While no two married couple’s sex life is the same, the following trends are some realistic changes that many couples experience as they settle into marriage:
1. Sex becomes a scheduled event.
When married couples begin to develop a rhythm around work and home life, they also develop a rhythm around sex. This doesn’t necessarily mean that sex has to become more infrequent, but it can become more predictable based on a couple’s work and sleep patterns. When partners are dating and not living together it's realistic to make love when they get a chance to see each other, especially if those opportunities are far and few between. However, when a couple lives together they may have more physical access to each other, but still feel limited by the demands of their work schedules and other commitments. Many couples report to me that sex feels like a “dangling carrot” after marriage; it appears to be within their physical reach but is actually hard to pin down.
2. Many married couples stop throwing caution to the wind.
In the dating phase it’s not uncommon for passions to run so deep that couples are pretty carefree about where and how they have sex. Ripping clothes off in the heat of passion or even soiling sheets isn’t a big deal as long as the sexual connection is made. However, after couples settle into marriage they start to pay more attention to the sexual process. My clients report sheepishly report that they think to put a sheet over the couch or bed or carefully remove their clothing before making love, citing that while they truly want to engage in the act they also want to preserve their nice things!
3. Sex takes on an entirely new meaning when married couples are trying to conceive.
Many of my couples who are trying to conceive share how shocked they are to discover how much pressure they feel to have sex during ovulation every month. A large percentage of couples who have never been pregnant before are in the dark about how small the window of opportunity for becoming pregnant is. When couples find out that they have to be intimate during a woman's ovulation window, which could be as small as a few hours every month, it causes feelings of pressure, anxiety, frustration, and sometimes resentment over time for some men and women. Some partners share they miss the spontaneity and find it difficult to perform during this window, though they understand that it’s more important than ever if they want to conceive.
If you find yourself experiencing any of these behaviors, don’t panic. Marriage is about tradeoffs. Some couples find that their sexual chemistry and passion are unhindered by the normal wear-and-tear of marriage over time, while other couples must work at keeping the flame from burning out. While you may only experience the initial passion in the bedroom periodically as you get farther down the road, what you can gain is a sense of familiarity and comfort that can be fulfilling in other ways. This requires a level of acceptance that some people fear. Predictability does not always spell doom. However, if you believe your sex life is in a coma it’s never too late to resuscitate it. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog post about ways to revive your suffering sex life!