Lacey: “Not tonight. I feel sick from dinner.”
Chris. “I’m sorry, babe. I hate that feeling. It makes me not want to do anything either. I love you.”
Chris’s caring response is a far cry from the traditional “you always feel sick” complaint.
This caring response is far more effective. Receiving a positive response from Chris for turning down sex does not cause Lacey to say “no” more often in the future. His actions reinforce that he loves Lacey despite not getting what he wants.
His words remind her at her core that their sex life is about making love, not increasing the frequency just so Chris can release his sexual tension. To her, saying “no” lead to Chris making her feel loved.
“Sex is emotion in motion.” — Mae West
Sex becomes more frequent in a relationship of loving responses. It cultivates trust and togetherness, leading to more erotic and passionate lovemaking.
Whether we realize it or not, we constantly rate our relationships. We value our partner’s responses in every single exchange we have. We are constantly reinforcing or amending the “story of us.”
According to John Gottman’s research, it has to be okay, even rewarding, for either partner to refuse sex.
Paradoxically, this leads to more sex. Many people find this confusing. I know I did. But relationships are complicated. That’s what makes them beautiful. They require understanding and working together.
For couples who are coping with a decline in a desire, how could your relationship change if you allowed each other to be as you are?
If you make it more than okay for either of you to say, “not tonight,” there will be many more nights when both of you will say “YES.” Female Viagra isn’t needed to fix low desire; just the pill of understanding and empathy.
Three Steps to Help the Rejected Not Feel Rejected
1. Don’t take the “no” personally.
Realize that a lack of a sexual desire for you isn’t all about you. Stresses from work, health issues, and general exhaustion drain us from having the energy to get it on. For most couples, I recommend using an arousal scale. It allows partners to realize that desire can be different among partners at the same time but doesn’t mean that the relationship is any less passionate. It just means you’re not getting it on tonight.
2. The Curiosity of Rejection.
If you become angry, frustrated, or resent your partner, become curious as to why. Why is being told no to sex once such a big deal to you? Sex and love are full of private meanings. In my early twenties, sexual rejection meant I was inadequate and unworthy of love. Sex was validation for my self-worth, not a mutual act of appreciation and love.
3. The Mirror of Reflection.
If this rejection bothers you, ask yourself how this reflects on you. On your relationship. Recall the happy moments in your relationship to help cope with the feeling of rejection. Realize that your partner doesn’t want to hurt you and is merely telling you how they feel. Their behavior has little to do with you and more to do with them; just as your behavior and feelings have more to do with you than your partner. Reflect, ponder, and get to know yourself better.
Sex requires communication, understanding, and appreciation, even when things are not the way we want. Love is about loving your partner unconditionally, with or without your genitals touching.
Low sexual desire in couples is a problem, but not an unsolvable one at that. Sex should be treated as a fulfilling and beautiful experience by both your partner and you; it should never be treated as an obligation. Have sex because both of you want to, not because you should. This will not only make you love and appreciate each other more, but it will also prevent you from harboring any resentment towards each other.