5 Ways to Ruin Your Sex Life

by Alisa on August 31, 2012

Gal Josefsberg occasionally writes for ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com, usually offering the man’s perspective on issues. In this guest post, he lists 5 ways men or women can cause their steamy sex life to become icy cold.

Sex is the glue that holds marriage together. Actually, that’s a bad analogy, and not just because the words glue and sex don’t really go together. Sex is one of the basic forms of connection that we human beings have when maintaining a relationship. Forget procreation for a second and just focus on how intimate sex is. Our partners are letting us see them naked, literally and figuratively. They’re not just baring their bodies to us; they’re baring their souls. They’re telling us about their fantasies and letting us in on their most intimate desires. Add to that the incredible release of hormones during and after sex, and I would argue that any relationship that doesn’t include a good sex life has a much higher than average chance of failure.

Which brings me to my topic today. Sometimes sex drives couples apart rather than brings them closer. Here are five sex mistakes that lead to  the former instead of the latter.

Mistake #1: Use sex as a bargaining chip. We’ve all seen this on TV. The wife gets mad at the husband and says, “he can forget about getting laid, EVER!” That might be funny on TV, but it’s one of the most destructive things you can do in a relationship. The implication is, “I don’t really like sex. I only do it because he wants it. I only allow him to have sex with me in return for other stuff.” At that point he might as well go masturbate because you’ve just told him there’s no real intimacy in your sex life, you’re just doing it to please him.

Mistake #2: You want to try something new. Your spouse says, “No way.” You won’t let it drop. Respect your spouse’s boundaries. If your spouse doesn’t want to do something, stop pushing. Side note: the most common notes I get from readers about sex are from men who want their women to have a threesome with another woman, and from women who want their men to be more assertive and aggressive in bed. I’m not quite sure what this means, but I’m guessing there’s a fascinating sociology paper to be written here if some grad student is interested.

Mistake #3: You make sex about your pleasure. Part of sex is the act of giving pleasure to your partner. Oral sex is a great example of this. Technically, it doesn’t give you physical pleasure, but it’s a wonderful thing to see your partner enjoying. By the way, remember the first rule: don’t use sex as a weapon or a bargaining chip. This is not about “I’ll do this for you if you do that for me.” This is about “I’ll do this for you because I love you and want to see you enjoy yourself.”

Mistake #4: You’re miffed when his or her sexual equipment malfunctions. Sometimes things don’t work. That’s especially true for men, but it’s also true for women. Sometimes you’re distracted or stressed or tired or all of the above and your body just can’t get into the mood for sex. That’s fine. It happens to everyone. As partners, it’s our job to be supportive during these rare occasions. If it occurs often, seek help, but otherwise be supportive, find another way to enjoy yourself (hint, it starts with “o” and ends with “ral”) and move on.

Mistake #5: You hold yourself or your spouse up to impossibly high standards. We are biological machines. We like to think that we are in complete control, but biology makes more of our decisions than we would like to admit. That’s not a bad thing as long as we are aware of it and make allowances for it. For example, appreciating the physical attractiveness of people outside our marriage is just biology. Expecting our spouses to stop doing that is setting our marriage up for failure. However never thinking of our spouse even while having sex with them is probably a problem. Make sure you understand the difference between being attracted to other people and not being attracted to your partner. Also, understand the difference between being attracted to other people and actually acting on this attraction.

 I’d like to say that I’m perfectly aligned with all of these and never make a mistake, but that would be a lie. That’s fine though. A strong relationship can survive a mistake here or there, just don’t make them habit. Otherwise you’ll find yourself wondering what happened to that wonderful chemistry you two had when you were first dating.

Gal Josefsberg blogs about personal improvement at Equally Happy and about gift ideas for men and women at Diamonds or Dogs.My wonderful, newly coded automatic bio will appear at the end of this post, but, as I said, I didn’t write this post. Gal did. Go to his site and check him out.

COOL NOTE: If you are a fan of Harriet Lerner, you can comment on this post (click through, please) and be in the running to get a free copy of her book Marriage Rules.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Every month I award one lucky reader an awesome $50 gift card. This month Mary has won for commenting often on the site. Congrats to her! The Reader of the Month sponsor for September is Dotty Evens, a marriage counselor. In September her sponsorship will award one reader with a $50 card. To win, all you have to do is comment a lot on the site. Like me there was a time when Dotty wasn’t happily married. Like me, she did everything possible to change that situation, and she succeeded. She has a wonderful e-newsletter that offers her tips and tricks for a happy marriage. In each issue, she answers a frequently asked question about marriage, such as, “How can I rebuild trust after infidelity?” She offers great advice, and it’s free. If you sign up for the newsletter, you get a free, bonus report that details the 5 tactics she used to save her marriage. Sign up for the newsletter here to get your free report. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie August 31, 2012 at 9:27 am

Great reminder. I am guilty in some ways. Thank you Alisa for this.

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RavSean September 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Way #6: let someone else in, either physically or electronically.

-RavSean

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Dave 2 January 14, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Good #6.

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Gal @ Diamonds or Dogs September 3, 2012 at 1:31 am

@RavSean
Absolutely. I didn’t include that one since it seemed obvious to me. The minute you actually start conducting some kind of relationship with a person outside your marriage, even if it’s online, that’s a problem.

Gal

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Ravsean September 3, 2012 at 7:13 am

Gal….

If you go back and check the comments on some of Alisa’s other postings, particularly on texting/sexting (June 2011), on how to break a porn habit (February 2012), and “20 Reasons Monogamy Rocks” (July 2011), what seems obvious to you and to me is not universally accepted. At one point, Alisa even had to step in and tell us all to be nicer with each other. The back and forth became fairly sharp.

Shanah tovah.

RavSean

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Dave 2 January 14, 2013 at 11:35 pm

@Ravsean

I said just the samething on another site today. We reading these blogs are functioning within a different paradigm than most of the people out there. We are here because we want to educate ourselve, realize the tools are available, don’t mind READING, and are willing to put in the effort to make a change in our lives. Since we troll these blog a lot, we repeatedly read a lot of the same stuff. They, on the other hand haven’t. So, we sometimes think something is so obvious that it doesn’t need mentioning. After all, we all know that, no new news there. It can get a little tiring plowing the same ground, but sometimes that just comes with the job. I know I really hate qualifying my comments repeatedly, but then someone always says, “But if the husband cared like he should,” or “It isn’t all the wives’ faults.” It can be a little wearing. Sometimes I just throw it out there and let it be what it is. You just want to say, “Yeah, I know, but we are talking about the husbands (wives) here, aren’t we?” We’ll discuss the rest in another post.

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RavSean January 15, 2013 at 8:57 am

Yes Dave…we are functioning in a very different paradigm. Years ago, had you told me that I needed even to state that others should not be allowed in, I might have laughed incredulously. It is obvious, or so I thought. Now, alas, reality has dawned that there are those out there who believe that the idea of not allowing others in is prudish and outdated.

I am thrilled to be an outdated prude.

RavSean

Sonia at EssentialPractice September 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

Thank you for this article! It is an excellent reminder!

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John October 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Regarding your point #2 above – what was the most requested thing by the husband to NOT involve adultery? There are more issues at play with a threesome than simple marital dynamics. Also, are there any coping strategies you’d suggest for dealing with the needs your spouse chooses not to meet?

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Thinktov November 9, 2012 at 5:27 am

@John I think the coping standard is #3. The less self involved and self centered you are the less needs you will have that your spouse won’t fulfill.

The nature of a person who is pleased is to please in return and you cannot please someone else if you are concerned about your own needs.

Once you learn to put the other first and become other centered you will be quite pleased with the ensuing results.
-Gavriel

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TB at BlueCollarWorkman October 10, 2012 at 8:36 am

My wife does #1 to me sometimes. It’s not cool. And it does put a damper on things. Maybe sometimes I fall into #3. :-/

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Tony DiLorenzo | ONE Extraordinary Marriage November 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

I can say that over the last 16 years of marriage to my wife we have faced each of these at some point or another. If not from her than from me. Three years ago we started something completely new for us and it truly has revolutionized our sex life. It’s the Intimacy Lifestyle. This is a way for us to have sex 2 times per week and each of us has to initiate once during the week.

My wife, Alisa, and I share all the details in Eps 140 – Scheduling Sex, http://www.oneextraordinarymarriage.com/140-scheduling-sex. Bar none this takes all 5 of those mistakes off the table or makes us work through them in a timely fashion each week. Nothing gets drawn out and this has made a tremendous impact in our marriage over the years.

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Alisa November 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

For some reason I feel I should point out that Tony’s wife Alisa is a different Alisa. I know Tony and completely support what he and his wife–who happens to be one of the few other Alisas in the world–are about, though.

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Olya February 1, 2013 at 6:04 pm

What about a relationship that is not a marriage? What if two people have only started dating and the GUY is the one to deny sex or any other physical closeness (i.e. to give or to receive oral) . What is his excuse is his other areas of life and being bored with life and not satisfied with where he is in his career? What is there for a girl to do if she can’t touch him, coz he doesn’t want to be touched (or to touch her)? And is he even honest with her or just has no balls to admit that he is just not that into her (he says otherwise)? The relationship is young and when we were not official sex was not a problem and it was amazing. Then all of a sudden it became a problem when HE asked me to date. Help…I am feeling rejected and my self-esteem suffers (he is in his late 30s and I am in my late 20s)

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Ravsean February 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Olya – your first step might be to take him to his doctor. There could be something wrong.

RavSean

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Olya February 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Ravsean there is nothing wrong with him physically.

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Ravsean February 4, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Olya – Above and beyond the physical problem, there may be an emotional issue. Is he depressed? Is there something in his past that might be a factor here?

If there is no readily apparent medical problem (and I believe you when you say that there is not), then you have a very clear decision at hand. Do you marry him, and commit yourself to a life of sexual neglect? Do put an end to it, and consider other possibilities?

Good luck. This one is not easy.

-RavSean

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Dave 2 February 13, 2013 at 11:53 pm

As to way #3, I am a sensualist by nature and I do get physical pleasure from giving oral sex to my wife. Eating, chewing gum, drinking from a bottle and smoking are all oral pleasures to some degree. A baby being breast-fed or sucking its thumb is about oral pleasure to a degree also. Granted, the oral part is triggering some deeper emotion, but there is does not negate the fact of pleasure in oral contact for the giver as well as the receiver. I get almost as much pleasure as my wife.

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