Breaking out of the sexual doldrums

Don’t let this happen to you.

Because of the added stress  of COVID-19 , many couples report that they are having less sex than usual and feel like they are sailing in the sexual doldrums. (see photo) So, today I want to share some tips for couples who want to break out of their sexual doldrums and perk up their physical intimacy.   Easy Ways to Spice Up Your (Married) Sex Life | Everyday Health  

To be clear, the word Doldrum is a oceanographic term which refers to a part of the ocean near the equator which is marked by the absence of wind. Metaphorically, doldrums has come to mean listless or despondent.  If your sex life used to be great but has fallen off over the past year, ask yourself:

—  Do you or your partner seem to have less interest in sex than you used to ?

— Does the very thought of having sex seem like too much work ? 

— Are you currently having sex less than once a week ?

If you said yes to any of these questions, your marriage may be in the  sexual doldrums.

There are many reasons married folks lose interest in sex. Health issues, chronic pain, fatigue, stress , anxiety, depression and unexpressed resentments are some of the most common causes. Spring Cleaning Your Marriage: Tips for Rejuvenating Romance | Pastoral Counseling Syracuse NY (   When trying to figure out what has cooled the passion, each of these problems needs to be checked out first .

However, there is another source of the problem which does not lie in pathology: neglect and the absence of romance. Fortunately, adding a little romance to a listless relationship can do wonders to turn things around.  Put another way, the easiest way to get out of the sexual doldrums is to be more considerate and give more personal attention and care to the relationship. Here are some tips to keep in mind while navigating a new course:

Understand that It Takes Effort to Keep Passion Alive

Too many folks have erroneous expectations about passion.  People think that the passion between a couple, which started out hot , just naturally cools down over time as we age . In fact, after the initial newness wears off  and the effects of the brain’s attraction chemicals (PEA) calm down,  sexual interest can wane.  But , what most folks don’t understand (and  this is the important thing to understand) ,  sexual desire for one’s partner does not have to lessen if it is given proper care and attention . Romance is the key to keeping a relationship passionate.

Romance is not just about candle lit dinners, chocolate and flowers

Too many folks believe that romance is all about romantic gestures or dinners.  While there is nothing wrong with these traditionally romantic things, real romance involves so much more.  The essence of romance is not simply giving flattery or providing pleasant surroundings.  Consideration and undivided attention to one’s partner are also essential . One doesn’t have to spend a lot of money to be romantic. For example, Sending  a text for no reason which simply says “Thinking about you.” is very romantic.   — Vacuuming or doing other chores which make life easier for one’s partner can be surprisingly sexy to your mate.

Identify unromantic habits which have crept into your life

Although familiarity can dampen the romantic impulse, just because you may have lost it doesn’t mean that you can’t get it back. Over time, we all have a tendency to get lazy and take our partner for granted.  During COVID, sweat pants and t-shirts became too prevalent and little things like shaving or other parts of personal  grooming may have slipped.  One way to shake up the bad habits acquired during the shut down is to look at old photos of when you first dated and notice, not only how  you looked but how exciting it was to anticipate seeing your love. Think about the effort you put into pleasing your mate.

Even though you are married, little things still matter because they express concern and  consideration for your partner.  No matter how many years that you have been together, it is important to realize that we all have insecurities and need some reassurance. Taking the time to attend to small things like our appearance is a powerful way of showing your love for your spouse and that you still desire him or her , even after all the years that have passed.

The Importance of Understanding and Empathy

One final thought. When it comes to romance, it  is important to realize  that men and women are emotionally/sexually different. Understanding and respecting those differences is essential to arousing passion in one another. Likewise, taking the time out from a busy day to be emotionally available to your spouse is more powerful than an unexpected bouquet of flowers to stir passion.  Indeed, listening and understanding  your partner is one of the most romantic things that you can do.  An empathic presence expresses love and concern like nothing else can.  Likewise , acknowledging and showing appreciation for considerate acts or romantic gestures nurtures loving feelings and intimacy.

Rev. Michael Heath , LMHC, Fellow AAPC       7 3 2021

Acknowledge and attribution for image : Michael Heath