This is an article I wrote that KSL refused to publish - it is an answer to the question I have submitted by KSL readers more than any other. I get a few letters a week from people who are frustrated their spouse isn't more into sex - So, I felt it was important to get it out there anyway.
Is a lack of intimacy hurting your marriage?
My spouse is having issues with me, because I don’t want to have sex. I’m not interested in sex anymore, but I really think the reason is the negative energy around the whole thing that he created early in our marriage. He has made me feel so pressured and guilty around it, that I have lost all interest. We love each other. We don’t want to separate, but I really don’t want to have sex with him. I force myself to do it every couple months, but then it’s “hurry up and get it done”. I don’t know how to get passed this.
The answer is yes, lack of intimacy is probably having a negative effect on your marriage, but the reason you have a lack of interest could be complicated. There are so many psychological and physiological reasons a person might have low libido, we cannot possibly address them all in this article, so, we are only going to address the one you have asked about and the most simple, a spouse who has just lost interest or decided they don’t want intimacy any more.
We see a damaging dynamic in a lot of our coaching client’s relationships, where one spouse is always asking for more intimacy, and pressure to give it has made the other one (with less interest) feel obligated into it. This obligation energy around it, makes the less interested spouse, even less interested, because it feels like intimacy is only about or for the other one. The more interested partner then experiences a lot of rejection, which hurts, and makes them even more needy for validation to feel lovable and wanted, which means they want intimacy even more. If this cycle plays out for months or years, it leaves everyone feeling taken from, unloved and mistreated.
We call this a “fear trigger cycle” and if you want to have a healthy marriage, you must learn how to change this into a “love trigger cycle”. We are going to explain how to do that, but first, you must understand why intimacy is important in a marriage relationship.
Intimacy is the one thing that makes the marriage relationship different from your other relationships. Without intimacy, you are really just friends with your spouse, and if you are only interested in being friends, you should probably get divorced, and let your spouse find someone who wants to be married. Intimacy is the foundation of the special connection and bond between two married partners. It creates a special kind of connection because of the vulnerability involved. If you really do love this person and want them to stay married to you, you probably are going to need to change this and get more interested in being intimate. But, your spouse may also need to make some changes to.
Putting pressure, shame or guilt, or in any way manipulating another person to get them to be intimate with you is wrong. If you are married to a person that tries to psychologically or physically force you into intimacy you don’t want, that is not okay and you might also consider getting out. What you want is two partners that want intimacy with each other, because they both love the other person and want to feel connected to them.
If this is not the dynamic in your relationship, we strongly encourage you to get some professional help. A professional could make changing the dynamic in your marriage easier and faster, or they will help you get some clarity and decide if you need to get out. (You also want to consult a doctor if you have low libido, because there are lots of medications, psychological or physiological causes you want to rule out.)
We also have an amazing worksheet on our website that would really help - print two copies of the Understanding your Marriage Worksheet and you and your spouse both fill one out. This will help you identify the fear triggers in each of you.
We also recommend that you try the following to change your fear-trigger cycle into a love trigger cycle:
1. Learn about the core fears (failure and loss) in play in yourself and your partner:
If your spouse fears failure (that he/she isn’t good enough), which is highly likely because most of us do, this will show up as getting offended or feeling insulted easily, having a hard time with feedback, clinginess or neediness, a need for attention, touch and intimacy to validate their worth.
If your spouse fears loss they might be controlling or pushy at times and easily feel mistreated or taken from. They are often be in a lack state and focused on what they don’t have.
The truth is, we all have both fears in play to some degree and you could have both equally too. See if you can tell which are in play with you and your spouse?
2. Understand what you each do, which triggers fear in your spouse:
Maybe he feels taken from or loss around not getting a strong marriage with great intimacy. When he tries to solve this by asking for what he wants, he triggers fear of failure in her, because she then feels broken or inadequate, because she doesn’t fulfil his needs. This fear experience around intimacy might make her withdraw from it even more, because we subconsciously pull away from fear inducing situations. Her further withdrawal may trigger even more fear of loss in him, making him even more unhappy and in need of touch and validation, but when he continues to ask for that, it triggers more failure in her, and around and around they go. We find a cycle like this in play in most relationships. See if you can identify yours.
3. Become the cure to your spouse’s core fear:
You will do this because you love this human being and want them to be happy and feel loved, wanted and good enough. (If you don’t care about whether your spouse feels loved and wanted, then you don’t really love them.) If your spouse fears loss, you can be the cure to that, by giving them reassurance and attention, which makes them feel safe. Show them they are admired, respected, appreciated and wanted daily and this will quiet the fear and make them less needy (this means initiating intimacy). If they fear failure, they need lots of validation about how wonderful, loving and giving they are. They need to feel and hear they are adored, appreciated, respected and wanted daily too.
If you are the more interested spouse, you must spend as much energy on giving validation and reassurance to your spouse, as you have worrying about what you aren’t getting. If you are less interested spouse, you must flip the fear cycle in your relationship by giving physical attention as a gift freely given from love. We encourage you to be the initiator of intimacy from this point on. Then, you won’t feel obligated, taken from or pressured in to intimacy, you will be choosing to give it. This will also mean your spouse doesn’t experience rejection any more, which removes a lot of fear from the relationship.
We would encourage the more interested spouse, to not ask for intimacy for a while and allow your partner the chance to offer and give it from love. Do this from a place of trust, without any feelings of lack or deprivation. Choose to trust you have everything you need and then generously give, validate and serve your spouse, without any strings attached, as a gift freely given too. This often turns the fear cycle around quick.
Because of the complicated physical and psychological nature of intimacy, we encourage (you both) to see a doctor and engage in some professional help for this issue, along with working on the fear issues involved.
If you think you might have subconscious issues around sexuality because of trauma or learning a shame mindset around sex early on - you may also want to get out Subconscious Sexuality Reprogramming Exercise - it helps change your subconscious feelings about sex from negative to positive.
You can do this.
Nicole Cunningham and Kim Giles are human behavior experts and master coaches who specialize in family and employee dynamics and have many tools to help you change your relationships. They are also the hosts of Relationship Radio on Voice America - Check it out!
This was first published on KSL.COM
I just read your article on adult children rejecting the parent’s religion and I agree with what you’re saying, however, my heart is still hurting. I understand my pain is all about me and that I need to just love them, but I can’t help resenting my son and his wife for causing me this pain. He is my only son and I resent his wife taking him away from the way he was raised. I find myself resenting them and not wanting to hang out with them. I don’t want to feel this way, but my heart is so sad that there will not be baby blessings, baptisms and temple marriages for my grandchildren. I'm just not sure how to bridge the gap, stop grieving and feeling so emotional about it. Thank you for any thoughts on this.
First, we want you to choose a perspective about why we are on this planet. Most people feel we are on the planet to do two things: 1. Learn, grow and become the best version of ourselves we can be and 2. To love and serve others and try to make a difference in their lives. We find these two ideas are consistent with most religions and life philosophies.
If you think these two ideas feel like truth to you, you might consider seeing life as a classroom. This philosophy means that everything that shows up in your life is there for one primary reason — to help you learn to love at a higher level.
We believe this experience might be in your life for that very reason. It has the potential to stretch you out of your comfort zone and teach you to love, forgive and accept people when it’s harder to do. It’s easy to love and accept people that are the same as us, it’s much more challenging to love those who are different. It’s especially difficult if their choices trigger fear of loss in you.
We want to make sure you really understand what a “fear of loss experience” is, as we define it. We believe there are two simple core fears which cause most of our suffering.
The first is the fear of failure and you experience this whenever you feel you aren’t good enough, or get insulted or criticized. This fear causes suffering, insecurity, stress and sadness as it makes us feel inadequate. This fear is easier to understand since you experience it to some degree every day.
Fear of failure experiences give you wonderful opportunities for growth. They can help you practice not caring what others think of you, getting your self-esteem from your intrinsic value instead of your appearance, or trusting that all human beings have the same value.
Fear of loss is also a wonderful classroom opportunity for growth. Loss is triggered whenever this moment or event (that you didn’t want to happen) is taking away from the quality of your life. If you get stuck in traffic, on the way to a big meeting, and you hate to be late — you are having a loss experience.
You can feel loss whenever people mistreat you or take from you, but you can also experience loss when life itself doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. You can feel robbed by life when you don’t get blessings or experiences other people get. Whenever you find yourself in self-pity around what you have been dealt, you are having a loss experience.
This is the most important part of this article we want to make sure you get this point – Life isn’t fair and no one gets the journey they wanted. They get the journey that fosters their growth best.
If we always got what we wanted, we wouldn’t grow, and that’s the point of the whole thing. One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to throw all your expectations about how your life should look out the window now.
Life is not going to meet your expectations. It’s going to be messy, ugly, painful and even embarrassing at times. It’s going to include some wins and some losses and sometimes it’s going to pull the rug out from under you completely. If you haven’t had those experiences yet, they are probably still coming.
We are not telling you this to scare you, because life is also going to be rich, wonderful, sweet, beautiful, amazing and thrilling too. The point is it’s going to surprise you and if you stay attached to your expectations, about how it should look at each stage, this is only going to create misery.
Instead, we recommend that you choose to trust the journey, the universe, or your higher power that it knows what it’s doing. Whatever interesting twist or turn your life has taken, that you didn’t see coming or didn’t want, it has a purpose for being here, and that purpose is always to serve you.
Having your son leave your religion is definitely not what you wanted, but it’s not as bad as a lot of other challenges you could be having. Talk to some people who have a child with cancer, or a child that died, or people who have a host of other awful challenges that life can throw at people. The truth is that you still have much more to be grateful for than you have loss.
Here are some things you can do to feel better about your situation:
You can see yourself as at risk of having your life ruined, being taken from, robbed or deprived if you want to, but it will only create suffering. Or you can play with seeing yourself as whole, blessed and well. You could actually believe you can’t be deprived because the whole universe is conspiring to bless and educate you all the time. If it is always for your benefit, it’s not a loss. From this place of wholeness, it is a lot easier to love others unconditionally and let go of the pain.
Play with it and see how you feel.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
This was first published on KSL.COM
I wondered if you had any suggestions for making Valentine’s Day less painful, after just going through a divorce. I’m sure there are lots of singles out there who find this holiday a painful reminder about the fact they are alone. Maybe you could give us all some ways to make this week easier.
For many people this holiday is a Single Awareness Day, not a celebration of love. The important thing to remember is that your experience or the way you think and feel about this week is completely dependent on your perspective, and you can choose your perspective. A date of the calendar cannot make you feel alone or unwanted. It is your thoughts about the date that create your feelings and your thoughts are in your control.
The problem is that most of us are quite used to letting our subconscious programming (that comes from our past experiences) drive our perspective and how we feel. We think we can’t help feeling or thinking how we do, so we just accept whatever ideas or feelings show up.
The first step in changing how you feel about this week, is owning responsibility for your feelings and accepting that if you feel upset or sad, you are choosing to feel upset or sad. If you own the power to choose your thoughts, you have the power to change them.
But understand, there is nothing wrong with feeling upset or sad, lonely or discouraged. These feelings are part of the human experience and you may need to let yourself feel them and work through them. Just own that you don’t have to live there. You have the power to change your story around this day, anytime you want to.
There will be a subconscious story that shows up in your head automatically about Valentine’s Day. This subconscious story might be a fear-based victim story or one of self-pity or sadness. You can take some time to experience the story that shows up, but then ask yourself if this story is doing you or anyone else any good?
If it isn’t serving you, creating growth or joy, then you may want to create a better, more positive story. You have the power to do that. This day will be whatever you decide to make it according to the story you tell yourself. Here are some ideas that might help you create a more positive story:
1. Valentine’s Day is mostly a commercial occasion driven by stores that want sales. Keep that in mind.
2. Not having someone in your life right now does not affect your value as a person. At all. People in a relationship are not better than those without one.
3. Decide to see all human beings as having the same exact value, no matter what they do or what their relationship status is. Make this a principle of truth about all people, across the board, and you will feel it is the truth about yourself too.
4. Understand that nothing means anything until you apply meaning to it. The date on the calendar doesn’t mean anything. The fact you are single doesn’t mean anything. Choose not to apply meaning to meaningless things. If you choose to apply meaning that makes you more depressed and sad, that is your choice, but own the choice and be responsible for it.
5. You will create a story around the day, one way or another. If you don’t create a story consciously, you might create a fear-based one subconsciously. I recommend you choose to create one consciously and choose a story that serves you and makes you feel strong, loving, valuable and worthy.
6. Remember it’s not being single that is the problem, it’s what you tell yourself it means that you’re single on Valentine’s Day. Tell yourself it just means there is still something you are meant to learn right now that requires singleness to learn it. It’s not because you aren’t good looking or a catch, it’s not that no one likes you, it’s just not the right lesson for you right now.
7. Take some time to account for all the benefits of being single. Remind yourself why relationships are difficult and can be a struggle. It will help you stay grateful for the blessings about where you are. Gratitude for everything that is good in your life really helps.
8. Plan something fun to do on Valentine's. Get together with friends and create a positive experience.
9. Make the day about pampering yourself. The great part about being single is all the time you can devote to taking care of yourself. What do you need to do for you, to be your own Valentine? Treat yourself great.
10. Make the day about service. There are always people in need, who have it worse than you. When you focus your energy on serving others, you take the focus off you and you will feel terrific about yourself.
You can do this!
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com and 12shapes.com. She is a relationship expert and a popular life coach and speaker.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.