I have read medical articles that claim that the frequency of sex dwindles after marriage for both men and women. However, the numbers of women who lose interest in sex are almost double that of men. This made me wonder if this is true or not and if it is, why? What I found in doing research for this article, is that there are many contributing factors to a person’s interest in sex, such as stress, decreasing hormone levels, relationship issues, limited free time, and other problems and external causes. For many women, sex is multifaceted and more complicated than just the physical act itself. We have all heard the old players’ saying that to truly make love to a woman you need to make love to her mind. As cheesy as that sounds, it is actually quite accurate in that a woman’s mental state often directly impacts her interest in having sex. This is especially the case for women after they get married when in most cases their level of responsibility increases and they find themselves spread more thinly.
To dig deeper into this topic, I reached out to Atlanta-based psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Laura Louis, founder of the After I Do Academy, who had a lot of interesting insights. I wanted to clear the air on whether or not it is true that women lose interest in sex after marriage or if that’s just a myth. Dr. Louis says it’s not necessarily incorrect. “Oftentimes women lose interest in sex when their other needs aren’t being attended to, specifically, their emotional, mental, and physical needs,” she says.
She noted that in many cases, arousal takes longer for women on average. I took this to mean, aside from an increased time to get into foreplay, that also, prioritizing sex and carving adequate time out for the act, especially after marriage, is important to promote sustained interest.
And time is something many women don’t have much of.
“In my After I Do Academy, I counsel women who have shared that they feel overwhelmed by the household and work responsibilities. Consequently, the pandemic has also affected their libido levels,” Dr. Louis says. “For women who have support from their spouses in terms of taking care of the children and domestic tasks around the house, they have more space and mental energy to put toward sex.”
When one’s load feels too heavy, prioritizing intercourse becomes more difficult and less desired. “Stress increases cortisol in the body, which has been medically shown to impact a woman’s arousal rate,” Dr. Louis says. “Fatigue is also a major contributing factor to the decline in sex drive.” This means that it is essential to find ways to reduce stress in your life. Activities like yoga, meditation, exercise, and making time for yourself in general when possible, can help with decompressing and de-stressing as well as adopting life habits that maximize rest and self-care.
But it’s a cop-out to think that a diminished sex life is always because of the wife. One thing that irked me was that in article after article, most of the literature I discovered focuses on a woman’s sex drive and/or her loss of interest in sex. Doesn’t a man’s sex drive change over time as well, and why is there so much emphasis placed on a woman’s?
“In my book Marital Peace, I share how a man’s sex drive declines with age noting that overall health can impact sex drive as well. In addition, medications for things like high blood pressure and depression can have an impact on libido,” she says. “In sum, more emphasis is placed on women because in many cases it takes more time for women to be turned on. Emotional intimacy can also impact a woman’s desire for sexual intimacy.”
“For example, if there is conflict between a couple, it can be challenging for a woman to desire sexual intimacy if she doesn’t feel emotionally connected,” she adds. Whereas there are a number of men would have no problems desiring sexual intimacy with their partner even while in conflict.
Having discussed all of this, what can married couples do if they find themselves in a situation where one partner or the other is struggling with an interest in sex? Dr. Louis recommends having your hormone levels checked and discussing with your doctor what you can do to combat the impacts of changing hormones. She also encouraged people to be mindful of the side effects of medications they take as they could be negatively impacting your libido. There could be alternatives better suited for you. And don’t forget to communicate.
“Provide positive feedback to your spouse about what you like sexually,” she says. Also communicate your needs in terms of sharing household and childcare responsibilities more equitably to make sure you have peace of mind. That may, in turn, expand your ability to focus on sexual intimacy with your partner. Another option, which could become a healthy practice in general, is to seek counseling. And nothing leads to more sex like intimacy.
“Set aside time for intimacy,” she adds. “Have date nights, and make time daily for non-sexual touches.”
If willing to try them, these suggestions will go a long way towards helping you maintain an interest in sex after marriage and in keeping that close connection with your partner as the years go by.