My husband and I have gone through our fair share of sex droughts. There, I said it. It’s out in the open. For the longest time, I felt so much shame and embarrassment about this. Partially because I was just not feeling it, wondering what was wrong with me, and partially because I just thought that every single other married couple I knew was definitely having so much sex. I felt guilty, inadequate, and like a “bad wife.”
For most of my adult life, I felt that sex was black and white. You were either sexually satisfied, or you weren’t. I didn’t realize that sex lives ebbed and flowed — whether that was due to kids or life stress or hormonal imbalances. I’ve learned that sometimes you and your spouse are hot and heavy, and sometimes you’re sleeping in a bed that is icy cold.
For years, I stayed silent about the droughts, and so did my husband. We let the lack of sex in our marriage be this huge elephant in the room, unsure how the other person was feeling without ever actually asking.
Over dinner one night, during one of our droughts, I finally spoke up. “We haven’t had sex in a while.”
He looked up from his chicken parmesan and stared at me wide-eyed. Then, he smiled.
“No, we haven’t.”
I saw the instant relief on his face. Maybe we were finally going to be honest with each other and just figure out the hows and whys behind these slower periods in our sex life. This small exchange snowballed into an hour-long conversation about how we both were feeling about this drought (and the droughts that came before).
He admitted that he definitely noticed and was wanting to have sex, but he didn’t want to feel pushy or rude by bringing it up.
He knew that sex can be a very sensitive subject, especially for me.
I revealed all the negative emotions that I had been feeling since the drought began and admitted that I felt it was all my fault. I felt unattractive in my body since gaining some weight after having our child, and my libido was shot to hell.
Stripping away the BS and truly being honest about where we both were mentally when it came to this stage of life helped us come to an understanding.
We didn’t place blame. We didn’t name-call. We didn’t get defensive. We didn’t take the other’s feelings personally. We didn’t say, “I am unsatisfied because of you.”
We just listened to each other — openly and honestly.
Once we began to be vulnerable about where we were with our sexual frustrations, our sex life actually got so much better. Who knew that communication was key!?
We Didn’t Play The Blame Game
First, we decided that no one was to blame when this happened. Even though I was the one who usually wasn’t “up for it,” my husband let me know over and over that he understood where I was mentally during that time. He didn’t take it personally. He didn’t make me feel less-than. He didn’t guilt trip or treat me differently.
Phrases like “You’re the reason this is happening” or “We’re in this situation because of you” were never uttered. Words can hurt, especially when they come from one of, if not the most important people in our lives.
We Agreed Upon A Cadence
Next, we agreed on a number of times a month that having sex felt satisfying. Research actually shows that once a week is a common baseline for sex, experts say. Sounded good to both of us. Once a week it is! If it’s more than once a week — super. If we backtrack a bit, we’ll talk it out.
We Both Showed Up
Then, we both made conscious efforts to work small acts of intimacy into the week. Something as simple as a back rub or a long kiss could be enough to get us to a place where we were both feeling good about the night ahead.
The acts of intimacy did not always have to be physical either. We realized that I prefer to receive love with some intentional quality time. I want to sit down and have a meaningful conversation over dinner and drinks. I want to feel seen.
My husband’s “love language” is words of affirmation. He wants me to assure him that I love him, appreciate him, and desire him with words of encouragement and love.
Typically, humans give love the way they prefer to receive it, which makes sense. But my husband and I do not have the same love languages. We needed to remember and note the best ways that each of us feels loved, then we could be proactive with making sure that we’re showing our love that way. Words of affirmation may not be at the top of my list, but that’s how my husband feels desired, so I intentionally work to give him those words of encouragement and love to make sure his needs are being met and vice versa.
After talking through our frustrations and truly expressing how we both were feeling without hurting one another, we could find our groove and figure out what works for us in order to fully feel sexually satisfied. If I had never spoken up over that dinner one night, I can wager a guess that we’d still be silent and frustrated and continuing to lose the spice we used to have.
When in a sex drought, the worst thing to say is nothing.
Katie Garrity is a contributing Scary Mommy writer covering news pertaining to parenting, celebrity, and viral moments. She has written news content for Distractify and Cuteness, as well as personal essays for Thought Catalog and Clean Plates. She has a degree in English from North Central College. In her free time, she’s hanging with her 3-year-old and husband, planning their next family trip, and watching restocking videos on TikTok.