Young Man with a question - MarriageHeat

I Could Use Some Advice

First off, this may be a little lengthy. I’ve been thinking about making this post for awhile. I don’t really have anyone to turn to about this. I’ve been a long time lurker of this site.

My wife and I are in our early 20’s and have been married for a little over a year. We dated for 5+ years before that though. (I apologize but I try to be vague online about personal details). First off, personally my relationship with the Lord isn’t where it needs to be. With Covid we haven’t been to church in a long time; we’ve just been listening to sermons online. I’m in the military, and we’ve moved twice since we’ve been married. So, where we’re living now we don’t really know many people. I’m also starting college, and she just got her first full time job. We’re doing great with most things. Our finances have been great, and we’re planning on buying a house this year. We should surpass $100k net worth in the next two years. Both of our jobs are going great. We just got a dog (who has been somewhat exhausting but also amazing).

But our intimacy and communication is not good. I accept a lot of responsibility because I just don’t know how to communicate to her how I feel.

We had sex a lot when we first got married (and we had sex the year before we got married but not often as I was stationed in a different state). The sex was great and our relationship was great. We’ve traveled the country together and made so many amazing memories together.

Anyways, for a few months now we haven’t had sex much because we have both been really busy, which is understandable. But since we’ve been married, I have been a little unhappy with our sex life. We just kinda do the same things, you know? I try to branch out and encourage her that we should try more things, but she’s very shy in the bedroom. We bought some under the bed straps and a vibrator. We used them once. She said the vibrator hurt a little but she liked the straps. That was it though. And she doesn’t like giving oral sex much at all, which is something I really love. I’ve been trying to be understanding, which is why I haven’t said anything, but it’s really wearing on me. She doesn’t really initiate much at all anymore, and when we do have sex (which was only once in the last month) we just do the same things. It’s a little frustrating. I have a really high sex drive. (When she would come see me before we lived together sometimes we would have sex 2-3 times/day). My libido is still at that level a lot of the time, and hers just isn’t. I’ve unfortunately turned to pornography (and sometimes this site) which if she knew would crush her. And honestly both have just made me less happy with how intimate we are, especially reading here about how sexually active other wives are. I told her, about 3-4 months ago when we were having sex more regularly (but she only wanted to have sex before bed), that I would appreciate more spontaneous sexual acts throughout the day. I was really honest with her about that, but if anything, after I said that, our sexual encounters just decreased. I just don’t know what to do.

I just don’t feel close anymore. Even when we we were separated by over 1000 miles before we got married, I felt close. We would talk about everything and send each other pictures, and I just felt so close to her. But now I feel like we don’t really talk that much. And I feel her tone to me is like she’s mad most of the time, which she assure’s me she’s not but she’s been coming off that way. She sometimes tells me she feels the same. I’m just not really sure how to go forward from here to fix these issues. Like I said, I’m bad at communication, and I’m not sure how to bring it up/talk about it.

Thank you for any advice. At this point I’m just tired and trying not to become apathetic about the whole thing.

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10 replies
  1. CrazyHappyLoved says:

    You know, this happened to us a while back. A lot of things were going on: the kids were young, we were both really busy, we'd recently moved far from family and friends,… and I lost interest in sex. I felt like he saw sex with me as a way to take care of himself, and I wasn't getting what I needed out of (and outside of) it. It took good communication for me to come to understand that my husband needed not just more sex but for *me* to want *him* and for him to learn that I needed to feel connected before I would and to believe that my pleasure was as big a priority for him as his own.

    I'd encourage you not to let "I'm not good at communicating" to be an excuse. Learn. There are so many free resources on the internet for good communication skills. I would love to see more posts come to MH about how to communicate in marriage because it helps in every area of married life, not least of all our sex lives.

    Also, consider whether your wife could have a nutritional deficiency or hormonal imbalance. It is hard to have an active libido when your body is struggling. If it's not that, it could be body image issues, not feeling close or pursued like she was before you married, or any number of emotional stumbling blocks. Again, good communication is key.

    My prayers are with you both; I hope you find your way back to vibrant intimacy with each other in all facets of your lives.

  2. SouthernHeat says:

    Sorry you are struggling. Communication is so important in every area of marriage. Communicating is how you grow, it’s how you learn to please each other in all areas but especially in sex, the more each of you opens up about your needs, desires, fantasies, and what’s holding you back. What each if you could do better to meet the other's needs. Marriage takes work and the more effort, work, and prayer you put into it, the better your marriage will become. Share your feeling in a non-judgmental way. Find out if it’s the way she is feeling about herself, if it’s stress, or if it’s physical, hormonal, or thyroid issues attributing to the low drive.

  3. LovingMan says:

    After we retired we had some of the same issues. Not all but definitely some of the same issues. (We are at the opposite end of life.). We got some very good marriage counseling. It was a husband / wife marriage/sex therapists team and it made a huge difference for us. We both also got some individual counseling.
    As far as getting fallatio… my wife doesn’t usually care much for doing that for me but we talked about it and she now gives me that special gift of oral on most holidays & special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Some women just don’t like doing that.
    We eventually set up a sex schedule that we follow pretty closely. But I can’t overemphasize that getting marriage counseling and/or individual counseling can make a big difference.

  4. PatientPassion says:

    Hi, and welcome to MarriageHeat! I'm glad you're reaching out, that's an important step. I'll start with my own warning about length, but I think there's a lot here that can help you.

    As CHL said, don't let "I'm bad at communication" be an excuse not to communicate. Even if it's true, communication is still very necessary. Also, recognize that you CAN get better at communication, it just takes the right resources and some practice. All of us as babies start out really bad at walking, but with months and years of practice, most of us get pretty good at it, right? But with some proper tools, I think you'll see some change a lot quicker than that. (As a disclaimer, I don't have any marriage experience myself. However, like you I'm in my early 20s and I've put a lot of work into learning and preparing for my future marriage. These are some things I've heard promoted by couples who have had positive experiences with them.)

    *** ASK QUESTIONS
    The overarching theme here is to ask questions, both to yourself and to your wife. Ask what might be causing the current issues. Keep your mindset on identifying potential causes rather than blaming yourself, her or anyone else, because that will exacerbate the problem instead of solving it.

    Here's an example: you implied that you were once able to communicate well enough to feel close. You said "We would talk about everything and send each other pictures, and I just felt so close to her." So it's not just lack of skill in communication, because that wasn't such a problem before. So the questions to ask here would be:

    – "What changed between then and now?"
    – "What new factor might getting in the way?"
    – "What factor was present that might now be missing?"

    I think you answered that last one yourself in your next sentence: "But now I feel like we don't really talk that much." That's something that changed. But is that merely a symptom of not being as close, or is it also a cause? Maybe not talking and not feeling close are simultaneously causes and symptoms of each other. In that case, perhaps making an effort to talk more, even if you don't feel like it, would disrupt that negative cycle. That leads me to…

    *** TALK INTENTIONALLY
    You said, "I feel like we don't really talk that much." So counter that by making a plan to talk more! You used to "talk about everything," so try to recreate that kind of interaction, via text, phone or ideally in person. Depending on your work schedules, plan a few short times throughout the day or at the beginning and end of each day to focus completely on each other, even if it's just for 5 minutes. Then also plan longer interactions as possible, ideally a weekly date night for a few hours.

    On these date nights, allow for the possibility of sex, but don't expect it. Focus on the emotional connection primarily. The common wisdom seems to be that women tend to connect better sexually after they have already connected emotionally. (I think this applies to men as well.) So by focusing on the emotional connection first, you'll not only strengthen your relationship and feel closer, but you'll hopefully see some sexual improvements too.

    *** SPEAK UP
    You also said, "I've been trying to be understanding, which is why I haven't said anything." Part of the issue might not be bad communication, but a total lack of communication where it's needed. Recognize that you don't have to keep quiet to be understanding. In fact, asking questions in a kind way helps you be MORE understanding! You can't "understand" a book no matter how long you patiently let it sit on the table, you have to engage with it and read it. Similarly, you have to engage and ask questions to your wife to understand her and her thoughts.

    You can bring up issues in a way that communicates care rather than dissatisfaction. Make clear that you love her and don't blame her for anything, but there are things you would like to understand better. It may turn out she wants to discuss the same things, but like you, doesn't know how to bring them up. Or her mind might be in a completely different place from yours, which is why it's important to…

    *** QUESTION ASSUMPTIONS
    Things that are obvious to you might not be (and probably aren't) obvious to her, so you do need to communicate explicitly rather than assume something about her state of mind. False assumptions are an extremely dangerous trap, and one that I think EVERYONE is very prone to. We simply don't have the mental bandwidth to prove every thought with evidence, so we naturally make assumptions. When something's not working though, we need to go back and analyze those assumptions. Whenever you have a thought about why things are a certain way, simply ask yourself, "Is that true?" Even if you're almost totally sure of the answer, ask your wife as well. You might be surprised at some of the answers.

    Here's an example. Maybe you think or assume, "We're distant because I'm bad at communicating." But question that. "Is that true? Maybe the problem isn't insufficient quality of communication, but insufficient quantity."

    *** PRIORITIZE PRIORITIES
    You mention, "we have both been really busy." It's worth taking a look at your priorities, and intentionally choosing them. Life is about tradeoffs because you can only do so many things with the time you have. It may be the case that some things are taking up your time that would be better spent growing closer together. I'm not telling you to give anything up, I'm telling you to carefully and consciously choose what you want to spend your time and effort on. I think we'd agree your marriage is one of the most important things in your life. It probably comes in 2nd place after your relationship with God, so it deserves a very high priority when you're budgeting the time and effort you have available. And high priority doesn't necessarily mean high time consumption. Like I said earlier, start with a few focused minutes together each day, and a few hours once a week.

    *** ASK WHY
    – "She liked the straps… [but] we used them once."
    – "She doesn't really initiate much at all anymore…"
    – "When we do have sex… we just do the same things."
    – "Our sexual encounters just decreased."
    – "I feel her tone to me is like she's mad most of the time, which she reassures me she's not, but she's been coming off that way."

    Have you asked "why" about these things? Have you spent focused time together having a conversation about these things? If so, what was her reaction or answer? If not, do it! Asking questions helps you identify the cause of a problem, and it's only after you identify the cause can you address the problem in a successful and lasting way.

    So change those statements into questions:
    – "Why do we only do the same things sexually? Is she hesitant to try new things? Is her mind just too occupied?"
    – "If she sounds angry but says she isn't, why is that? Is she simply stressed from work or something else in life?"
    – "If she liked the straps, why did we only use them once? Is she having second thoughts about it? Is she just waiting for me to initiate that again?"

    (As a side note, if she liked bondage stuff with the straps, I would suggest she may not be as shy as you think, as that's relatively adventurous, even by MarriageHeat standards. And to be clear, adventurous is by no means bad. I have adventurous interests myself.)

    *** SEEK OTHER HELP
    I think it would be wise to find a good licensed marriage counselor to get some help from. You could probably benefit from either individual or couple's sessions. We sometimes have a bad stigma about counseling, like it means we've failed in some horrible way, but there's no good reason for that. Counselors are simply people who provide counsel, a fancy word for advice or teaching. And everyone, married and single, will always be better off with more teaching about how to navigate their relationships. It's totally okay, and actually wise to get some professional insight and help to work on your marriage BEFORE it gets to a really bad place. Prevention is the best treatment, and the earlier you start it, the more effective it is.

    *** BUILD YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
    You noted, "My relationship with the Lord isn't where it needs to be." It sounds like you've moved a lot so you don't have a church you're integrated in. Church is important, but remember that your relationship with God is personal, it doesn't require a church to be involved. A routine of a little devotional and prayer time each morning can go a long way. ("Solid Joys" from pastor John Piper's site DesiringGod.com is a great daily devotional that takes less than 5 minutes to read or listen to.)

    *** WRITE DOWN YOUR FEELINGS
    As a final tip, try to write down your feelings. I've found it helps me put confusing and ever-changing thoughts into a more concrete form that's easier to work with. And if what you write doesn't do justice to your feelings, try again! Keep changing the words until you have a description that's close enough to be useful. Then if you want, you can share it with your wife however works best for you.

    I hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions if you want to. I'd be happy to discuss things with you and work through them! 🙂

  5. O-surfer says:

    Pornography destroys marriages.

    If you being on this site would devastate your wife, I don't think you should be here. Your relationship with your wife is more important than your ‘sex drive’.

    The lower drive spouse may need time to prepare emotionally for sex. Consider a time for a non-judgmental and non-defensive conversation to discuss a schedule for sex. Having time to prepare may cause her to be able to be more responsive.

    Go to a Family Life Weekend to Remember event and learn to understand each other and how to communicate. Listen to Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcasts or webinars to learn more about her libido, and ask her to consider listening and learning too. Chances are she doesn’t understand how much sex is connected to emotional connectedness.

    • O-surfer says:

      I also wanted to say, I don’t include a couple’s own collection of photos or videos of the two of them as pornography—properly kept between the couple.

      Another thing to keep in mind as you are on this site is that many of the writers have been married a long time—many marriages represented here are older than YOU are. Don’t expect your marriage to ‘look’ the same. We (the long term couples) had a LONG learning curve to get where we are now. (Read LovingMan’s story about overcoming sexual abuse for example.). There are a number of stories on this site of people who took quite a long time to come to an appreciation of oral sex. Your wife isn’t unusual that way.

      Also, there are a number of questions that come to mind as I think about your post. As I consider those, it makes me want to point out that from hearing only from you and with some disguised information for security, our answers can’t be the whole solution. You need a married sex positive Christian marriage counselor for both of you to meet with—possibly together and separately. You both need Christian brothers and sisters to hold you accountable in your marriage and in your spiritual life. I know Covid restrictions make it tough, but you need to find a way.

  6. beyondSexTrueLove says:

    FIRST: Know that pornography is a sin against the marriage and it will make you more and more distant from God.
    I pray in name of Jesus you will quit porn.

    Your wife and you had a high sex drive and amazing sex life, probably your wife still loves you, but she could be too stressed and tired because of her job and so she doesn't want to have sex.

    Before you talk to her about sex, try to kiss her more, hug her more (I bet you already are a kind and loving man, but you still can be a little more), but LISTEN, don't try to start sex after kiss her or hug her in these two weeks, she needs to know you love her even when you don't make love. (Many women think men only want sex).

    Say every day, "I Love You".

    Make a special dinner (I know this is cliché). But still don't start sex.

    Buy a simple rose, write a letter talking to her about how much you love her.

    Now you should tell her how much you love her and how much you miss making love with her, tell her sex is a part of marriage and a gift of God, read to her what Paul told the Corinthians about sex in marriage. (You could write a letter or e-mail if you are not comfortable talking.)

    Even if she doesn't change her mind, you should still BE THE BEST MAN OF HER LIFE. But if she doesn't loves you, know you deserve a better woman; this could be a tribulation you should overcome, so pray that God gives you strength and wisdom.

    I pray for you and your wife, my name is Wesley and if you need help fighting porn, please, visit the xxxchurch website.

    • CrazyHappyLoved says:

      Oh, my gosh! I just looked these guys up, and their ministry and mindset are pretty amazing!

      I would not go so far as to say viewing pornography is a sin. To me, the biggest issue is that it portrays mostly sinful sex (besides the social ills of the sex trade in general.) Now, if I watched porn thinking about how I could get in on some of that action, I believe I would be sinning. If I watched porn rather than address issues in my marriage and spiritual life that keep me from being satisfied with—and a satisfaction to—my spouse, that would be detrimental to my marriage. If I watched porn and became dissatisfied with my loving spouse, that would be destructive. But if my spouse and I knew of a source of strictly marital videos that we both enjoyed watching on occasion and maybe picking up a few tricks from, I can't see where that would be sinful or harmful. I know that puts me in the minority among Christians, and it is obviously better to be safe than sorry. And I don't know of a completely safe source of erotica outside of that made, as O-surfer suggested, by the couple for the couple's own use.

      But I think there is also a danger of us declaring something a sin that God did not specifically tell us not to do. It puts us in a place of judgment, and that can be pretty damaging to a marriage as well. If I go into marriage believing my husband should never look at or be turned on by other people having sex, and he does, I may see that as an act of treachery when it isn't. If he longed for someone other than me, then yes; most certainly if he acted on such a longing. But looking at and enjoying another couple's *righteous* sexual relationship, while not necessarily the best choice for everyone, isn't an "emotional affair" or sinning in the heart. So is it pornography itself that ruins marriages, or is it what we aren't doing instead? Or maybe it's the condemnation and hurt brought about by the attitude that it's a sin? I don't have the answers.

      All that said, the OP makes it clear that he knows his porn habit is harmful to his marriage and that he would much rather work on improving it. So kudos to him for that!

  7. beyondSexTrueLove says:

    CrazyHappyLoved, sorry, but in my opinion porn is a sin, let me explain that as a person that used porn in the past:

    1. First: In the past I saw sex as an act, now I understand sex is not just a way to get pleasure, sex is a special act between two people who love each other and wish give each other pleasure, a way to share your body to your spouse, becoming one flesh and one soul (this is the God's design). Porn takes the intimacy away, making something beautiful and unique into just a form of entertainment. Those women and men lost their intimacy.

    2.Second: It's adultery, so it is a sin.

    Marital videos (aka homemade porn) is not educational, it is just a way to self pleasure, but I believe educational videos about sex made between two married people, without showing faces, no dramatic loud screams, no detrimental sex acts and with no purpose of create addiction but with a campaign against pornography in that, such videos could be acceptable.

  8. J. G. says:

    Diminished sex drive isn’t necessarily a permanent state. Health concerns are a real and treatable influence. Issues such as Vitamin D deficiency (especially in Northern climates), diminished sleep, anemia, chronic pain, anxiety, thyroid problems, among many other things, all can diminish desire. A yearly physical is important, especially for women.

    About communication. You are always communicating something, whether you like it or not. Your wife is communicating as well. The problem is that your communication is incomplete. Expressing feelings, perspectives, needs, hurts, previous emotional pains, joy, desires, fantasies, vulnerabilities, and favorites often take time—time together: time doing routine things like cooking, time doing special things like enjoying a walk or a sunset, time exercising together, time enjoying things like a dinner or movie or a play, time caring for each other by doing chores like the wash or dishes or washing each other’s hair, and also time having sex. You sound busy. Don’t forget to be busy doing things together, even routine things like shopping or cooking or cleaning. Developing net worth is nice, but not nearly as important as developing your relationship. If achieving intimacy seems difficult, or simple changes aren’t working, get counseling.

    Sex within marriage isn’t just about receiving pleasure, but also about giving pleasure, intimacy, fun, physical and verbal communication, exploration, romance, learning each other, trust. Sex within marriage can be so much more than the pleasure centered entanglements outside of marriage. It is more a journey, involving learning and growth as well as a series of very pleasurable events. Don’t expect marriage sex to always be smooth, frequent, and sensual. I’m grateful that the good times are common for us, for decades now. We are still experiencing growth as our bodies age and we learn our sexuality anew. The same is true about our relationship. The grit that we developed working through marital problems when overly busy in the early days still serves us well.

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