Coping in a Sexless Marriage

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Coping in a Sexless Marriage
By Dr. Andrew D. Atwood, LMFT

Coping in a sexless marriage can be a real challenge. But, then, much of life can be a real challenge. Rather than focusing on the specific challenge, let me first invite you to think about the broad question of “how to cope with life,” and then how a woman can cope in a sexless marriage.

There are two words of encouragement I give people in this situation: “Learn how to hold your own hand,” and “If you can’t have what you want, want something else.”

In the first simple piece of advice, I offer up for you a great deal of profoundly deep wisdom.

When you are confronted with distress in your life, your ability to stay centered, to stay calm, and to be free from either guilt or anxiety… is very important.

When you are centered you have self-esteem that keeps you well no matter what the circumstances of your life. Wishful thinking? No. I’ve experienced the well-being that comes from a centered life, and I’ve witnessed the enormous goodness that can come from developing the capacity to have true self-esteem.

Most of us, most of the time, look to others for validation; most of us look for others to esteem us. Early in life we look outside of ourselves for validation of who we are - until we develop the capacity to look within, there to find the self-love that is born of Love itself.

Instead of looking outside of your own self for love, look inside to the Love that is there. That is what will set you free.

Once you have cultivated self-love, once you have learned to hold your own hand, then you will be free from efforts to control those around you in an effort to make them love you. When you stop trying to get others to validate you, because you have learned to validate and love yourself, then you are free to be in the present moment.

In the present moment, you are free from the guilt and shame of the past, and free from anxiety about the future.

In the present moment, holding your own hand, you are perfectly fine.

Right now, in this present moment, you are perfectly fine.

If you are woman in a sexless marriage (or a man) you are perfectly fine.

Right now.

If you are struggling because you want more sex, or because you wish you wanted more sex, then hold your own hand. Stop right now. Take a deep breath, and realize that Life is within you, and Life is Good.

You are Goodness.

Calm down. Face the facts. Set a plan in motion. Take action.

You are Goodness.

The more anxious you are, the more you are struggling to cope, the more disconnected you are from your own Goodness.

If your partner is not participating with you in sex, and your are having a hard time coping with the frustration, calm down and get centered. Confront your partner out of your center. Get centered and confront your partner. A confrontation out of your center will be much more powerful than a confrontation from the part of you that is frightened and insecure.

If you have determined that your partner is not going to engage you in sexual intimacy, or that you are not going to muster up enough sexual desire within your self, then you are going to have to make a huge change.

If you can’t have what you want, want something else.

That is my second piece of advice.

If you keep wanting what you can not have, you will keep yourself in perpetual frustration. In the Buddhist tradition, striving and grasping are understood to be the sources of pain.

We all cope better when we live in the present moment with Goodness, striving after nothing more.

If you can’t have what you want, want something else.

Look at all the Goodness around you, Goodness in your partner, in your self, and in your relationship, and pour your energy into building upon that Goodness.

Learn how to hold your own hand, and how to let go when you can’t have what you want.

For more marriage tips click here.


Recovering from Divorce

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Recovering from Divorce

By Bob Grant (c)

If there was one part of my job that I could do without, it is watching couples spiral down the path to divorce. While most couples I see don't end up getting a divorce, there is that small percentage who are so filled with resentment that either one, or in some instances both of them, has already decided the marriage is over.

While I firmly believe that if two people want to stay together, it really is possible to build something wonderful, there are some situations where one party has decided they have suffered too much pain. It has become a matter of protecting themselves.

I have read many books which state things like, "How to change your partner even when they don't want to be changed." I must admit, I have suggested many of these very techniques to wives and husbands whose spouse would never come to counseling.

But to tell you the truth, there are some circumstances (e.g., chronic unfaithfulness, physical abuse, etc.) that make it nearly impossible for one spouse to carry the weight of two. For those of you who have been divorced or if you know of someone who has, let me say that from my experience, what you or they felt was often more traumatic than what most people will ever experience in their lifetime.

The reason - divorce is more like a death than anything else. In many cases, it affects individuals even worse than a death, because a choice is involved and the other person is still out there living. If your spouse dies, there is a certain degree of fate. Something terrible happened beyond your control.

With divorce, a choice had to be made. Perhaps it shouldn't have ended. If only I had given him (her) another chance. Why did I wait so long? Is there something wrong with me? The questions could go on forever.

What can be done to help heal the pain of a divorce?

The first and most critical step is to allow yourself time to heal. The first few months (perhaps longer) following a divorce are not the time to try and figure out what went wrong. Trying to be your own counselor only prolongs the feeling of hopelessness. Let others help you.

There are people (e.g., family, friends, professionals, etc.), who would love to offer you support, but they need to have their offer accepted. If you isolate yourself, it becomes almost impossible for others to support you. The first six months to a year after a divorce are hard enough; don't make it worse. DON'T ISOLATE YOURSELF.

When the time for reflection does come, ask yourself this question: "Why did I attract that type of person into my life?" One of the main reasons that we select or are drawn to a specific type of individual is that subconsciously, we are attracted to someone who will expose those areas in our life that we need to work on.

They will "push our buttons," so to speak. Given enough time, those individuals that we date and/or marry will expose unresolved issues, character flaws, etc... that we need to address. I guarantee it.

Here is an example. Susan recently divorced. Her husband had a terrible temper. Not physical violence, but major yelling and screaming. When he became angry, it made her feel out of control. Susan felt that the majority of her problems were related to her former husband's temper, and she swore that she would never again marry a man with a temper.

Within two years, Susan meets and marries Jeff. Jeff never gets angry. Problem solved - right? Not so fast. There is now a different problem. Jeff does get angry; however, his response to anger is to become quiet -really quiet.

The problem for Susan is that when Jeff is quiet, this also makes her feel out of control. Not in the exact same way that her former marriage did, but eerily similar. Has she made a bad choice with Jeff? I don't think so, but she has to deal with those feelings of being out of control. The situation forces her to deal with those feelings. If she simply blames Jeff for her unhappiness, she is destined to divorce again.

The final stage of recovery is so simple yet many never realize its importance. FORGIVE YOURSELF, AND FORGIVE YOUR EX-SPOUSE. Forgive yourself for all the things you could have done and forgive your spouse for everything you wish he/she had done.

No one marries with the intention of getting a divorce. However wise or poor the choice to divorce was, it's done. Going through a divorce is rough enough. If it haunts you for the rest of your life and prevents you from ever taking a risk again, then not only will you miss out, but someone else will too.

For more Marriage tips click here.


Pre-Marriage Counseling

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Pre-Marriage Counseling
By Emma West (c)

I had a friend who was getting married to her long-time partner. They had lived together for a number of years and owned property together. It seemed that marriage would simply perfect what they had - make it permanent.

After my friend told me about their plans, I asked a question: "Have you thought about pre-marriage counseling?" The question surprised her.

In the rush, the excitement, not to mention the incredible organizational pressure of planning a wedding, many people don't care to think about something as mundane and as sober as pre-marriage counseling. Why rain on the parade? Why descend from cloud nine? Why try to squeeze it in, with all the other things that have to be organized? Who needs it, anyway?

Well, this is why: your wedding is only one day in your life, but your marriage is all the rest of the days that follow. No other relationship, except perhaps parenthood, even comes close in terms of the challenges and triumphs of marriage. It is the most intimate relationship created by choice that is humanly possible.

Both couples and individuals seek financial planning to maximize their wealth. Businesses value succession planning. Students make plans for their career path long before they finish their education.

There's a famous saying that says, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

Part of planning to succeed in marriage is taking the time to look forward, to survey the land you are going to travel across, taking note of the mountains and the valleys, the difficult crossings and the pleasant, and the easy places. Pre-marriage counseling will enable you to survey and plan for your marriage.

But isn't living together enough preparation? The answer, unfortunately, is NO. Statistics show that divorces are actually higher among people who marry after having a de-facto relationship with each other. There is something about marriage that distinguishes it from simply living together - which means that pre-marriage counseling is all the more incredibly pertinent to de-facto couples. It's a way of learning how to successfully make the transition from one kind of relationship to another.

What stops people from doing this kind of preparation? One of the big issues is based on fear and insecurity: "What if the issues raised stop us from getting married?"

Here are some points to consider:

First, you may get some surprises. For example, it's possible that, even if you have lived together, some of your partner's attitudes to certain things that matter to the relationship (such as communication, gender roles, and children) have so far escaped your notice. Pre-marriage counseling will help you see differences that may have an impact - not in order to discourage you, but in order to help you be prepared to plan ways of overcoming or resolving them.

Think of this as an opportunity to become creative problem-solvers and relationship-builders. Marriage is an art, and you will be honing your relationship skills to a greater level than you ever have before.

You will have the opportunity to understand the issues that are "deal-breakers" and to discuss them - before you enter into wedlock. Do you both want children? What will you do if it turns out one of you doesn't? That may be a deal-breaker.

Second, yes, issues may come up that give pause to one or both of you - issues that may make you decide to postpone your wedding until they are resolved. Issues such as: What are your values versus your partner's when it comes to money? What kind of treatment can you live with from your partner? How will you settle disputes? Does one of you have the final say, or is every decision made by consensus?

Don't be afraid to face these issues before you walk down the aisle. It is easier to work through some issues before the event, than when you are married and the stakes are far higher.

So, where can you go for pre-marriage counseling?

If you are planning to be married in a Christian church, you will very likely be required to do a certain amount of preparation for marriage. One of the resources that Christian ministers use in Australia is called "Prepare," and there may be other, similar resources. Ask the minister celebrating your marriage about marriage preparation when you meet with him.

If you are planning a civil ceremony, marriage preparation is still readily available, and of great value. "Relationships Australia," or any family and marriage counseling service, can provide the preparation you want. Fees vary, but pre-marital counseling will likely be by far the least expensive item you purchase for your wedding!

If you are open to considering pre-marital counseling (marriage preparation), then you are a candidate for a great marriage. Opening up your relationship to receive advice requires humility, and humility is one quality that creates success in life. Another name for humility is teach-ability. If you and your partner are ready to learn new things about your relationship and discover how to make it the best it can be, then the world is your oyster.

For more Marriage tips click here.


Building Soul Mate Relationships

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Building Soul Mate Relationships
By (c)

Building Great Soul Mate Relationships (not just good ones) in life takes time and commitment. If you choose to spend time and you choose to commit you WILL most certainly build a relationship that will bring you joy and contentment. Some keys to building great relationships include:

Connect with the one that you love

Make time to remind your loved one that they are special. Write them a note, send an email, sms or phone them during the day at work. Do something that you know will be meaningful to your partner. Make sure your efforts don’t go to waste; connect with them keeping their love language in mind. Be intentional about making a daily connection in the middle of your busy life.

Plan your time

The old saying ‘fail to plan and you will plan to fail’ is so true when it comes to soul mate relationships. Planning your time is of utmost importance in building great relationships. The average couple is so busy with work, catching up with friends and other responsibilities that sometimes in an established relationship you can fail to plan to spend time together. Check your calendars each week and make note of time when you will be together. Be intentional about spending casual social time together and also about spending quality time building into your relationship. A regular ‘date night’ is a great idea.

Be protective of your relationship

At times healthy jealousy is a must in soul mate relationships. If you are not going to protect your relationship, who will? Don’t allow yourself to be in situations that compromise the integrity of your relationship with your partner. Always remember that relationships can last forever- make sure that the emotional needs of your partner are being met. Don’t take each other for granted. Your soul mate relationship is important.

Don’t forget the special occasions!

Use your diary or the reminder function in your mobile phone; make a note of birthdays, anniversaries and special events. Talk about important events and make sure that both partners’ expectations are equal. Unnecessary tension can result in a relationship due to unmet expectations. If you would like to go away for your anniversary make sure that your partner knows! They are not mind readers. It may seem to take the spontaneity and romance out of it all but in the long run your relationship will be stronger as a result of discussing such issues.

Introduce surprise to your relationship

Assuming your partner likes surprises, and you have time, there are many ways you can surprise them. Organize with their boss that they will take an extended lunch break and take them out to lunch, send flowers, a card, chocolates- the options are endless and can really add spice to your life together. Interrupt the mundane with a surprise and you’ll be amazed at what it does for your soul mate relationships.

Get away with your friends

If you are in a steady relationship make sure that you haven’t become exclusive with your partner and in the process lost all of your friends! This is a common mistake that couples make when entering into a relationship. At the start everything is new and very exciting and before you know it you have neglected the old friend that you have had since high school. Friendships are important and it is healthy to have mutual friends and for each person to have their own friends in soul mate relationships. It brings diversity and spending time apart only makes the heart grow fonder!

Become a student of your partner

If you are in a relationship you need to become a full-time student of your partner. Make it your mission to learn everything there is to know about them. Their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, how they relate to others, how they feel most loved. When you take the focus off yourself and your needs and focus on your partner you will discover that you are in the process of building great soul mate relationships. As you focus on your partner they will become more focused on you- it is always better to give than to receive!


The biggest key to building great soul mate relationships is communication! Learn to communicate- we are not all born with the ability to communicate with each other- sometimes it takes time and energy to learn. It is an art and effective communication can mean the difference between an average relationship and a great one! Read books, listen to motivational speakers, watch other people- master this one and you will notice a difference in your relationships.

Soul Mate Relationships are worth fighting for. Be intentional about building a great relationship with you partner. You wouldn’t purchase a car and never service it! Treat your relationship with care and make sure that you pay attention to it and service it often. If you do it will last the distance and you will know happiness and contentment for a lifetime.

For more Marriage tips click here.

3 Keys To Start Transform Your Marriage

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3 Keys To Start Transform Your Marriage

By Amy Waterman

Recognizing you have a marriage problem is the first step along the road to transforming your marriage, and for most couples simply acknowledging there is a problem shatters the marriage myth. According to love stories, movies, and fairy tales we are supposed to live 'happily ever after'. But what happens when Snow White develops a drinking problem? What happens when Robin Hood's long working hours start affecting his marriage to Maid Marian? What happens when Cinderella says she has 'fallen out of love'?

We are taught in school how to do sums, how to read and recognize Shakespeare, and how to conduct scientific experiments, but what do we really know about the greatest social experiment of all, namely our ability to keep the love alive in our marriage?

The fact is we know surprisingly little, and from the moment we say "I do," we are literally flying by the seat of our pants. We don't get a manual or a textbook telling us how to get it right, so our marriage becomes an evolving set of experiments, learning and discovering more and more about ourselves and each other, and figuring out what works and what doesn't. Some say if we don't make mistakes we don't really learn, but what do those mistakes cost us, and is the cost too high for some couples?

That's why I have 3 ways to instantly transform your marriage. These are 3 things that you know will work and will help you get your marriage back on track. Let's call this your error-free way to redeem yourself and your marriage in the eyes of your partner and show them that you are committed to making positive changes in your marriage.

The first key to transforming your marriage is to stop looking at your issues on a case-by-case basis. Couples that try to solve arguments by going into the small details of every argument are never really going to deal with the big stuff. I'm talking about the issues that REALLY matter in your marriage, and the issues that keep coming up in every disagreement.

Spend too much time at work? Partner feeling unappreciated? Don't make love as much as you used to? Either of you feeling unfulfilled by your lifestyle or the relationship? Is the communication poor in your relationship? Does your need to always be right override the feelings of your partner? Spend less time worrying about the details and more time examining the issues and themes behind your arguments.

* The issue is your job. The theme behind this may be balance between work and home life.
* The issue is you not doing enough chores. The theme behind may be that you are being invited into making a greater contribution into coupledom.
* The issue is your partner being grumpy with you all the time. The theme is your partner needing to feel validated in the relationship

If you have a greater understanding of what the key themes are behind your marriage issues you are better able to develop effective solutions that will really make a difference.

The second key to transforming your relationship is to examine your beliefs about marriage. It's okay to not have the fairytale marriage. Even the best couples don't always get it right. But what makes the imperfections good or bad is how you choose as a couple to deal with it. When you disagree about something, do you sit down and talk about it, or is your first instinct to deny that there is a problem and hope that it will all go away?

You need to understand that it is okay to be imperfect. In fact, admitting this to yourself and your partner can be one of the most liberating actions you take in transforming your marriage. Admitting your imperfections exposes a vulnerability that can bring you closer together as you find ways to get some meaning out of your issues. Acknowledging that you do make mistakes can open the door to acknowledging that there is a better way to do things, and one of the lessons we are called into as a couple is finding that solution together. Make a list of things that you have learned since you got married, and a list of areas that you as a couple can both improve on. Then try sharing that list with your partner and ask them to contribute their thoughts.

The third key to transforming your relationship is in recognizing the differences between men and women, and acknowledging the importance of both roles in the relationship. Just because your partner views something different to you doesn't make them wrong, and the same goes for you. There are often several interpretations of the truth, and the key to marriage success is in recognizing that women and men have key fundamental differences in the way they view things. For men, their view may be a much more task-oriented approach to fixing an issue, where a woman may focus more on the emotional process as you both navigate your way through marriage issues. While both approaches are different, with compromise they can both achieve the same result.

Write down 5 themes or issues. Then I want you to write down 5 task-oriented ways of trying to solve the situation. Then list 5 thoughts-based ways of communicating your way to a solution.

The first step to transforming your marriage is in transforming YOU. Being married can be scary enough, but having marriage problems and not knowing how to fix them can be paralyzing! All it takes is the ability to step outside your day-to-day issues and look at different ways of viewing your marriage. Every marriage problem invites you into growing and offers you and your partner the opportunity to learn.

Now it's up to you to take what you have learned and apply it to YOUR marriage. You too can have a fairytale marriage!

For more Marriage tips click here.