Rick McDaniel: The 'sexless marriage' -- Is your relationship child-centered or couple-centered?

Would it surprise you that according to Data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz “sexless marriage” is one of the most Googled phrases when it comes to marriage issues in America?

Sex therapist Dr. Ian Keller says, “Sexless relationships are the number one issue I deal with, particularly in couples over forty.”

A sexless marriage is not easily defined. Some experts say a couple that has sex less than nine times a year is sexless. Certainly, if you are married and never have sex that would be sexless. Most couples know if they are in a sexless marriage.

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But is marriage all about sex anyway? No, but sex is called the act of marriage.

Sex connects a couple in more than just a physical sense. It bonds them together in a very special fashion. Sex brings a closeness and even a healing to a marital relationship like nothing else can do.

There are many possible causes for a sexless marriage. It could be poor health or illness, weight gain and body issues, tiredness and fatigue or anger and resentment. Most of these can be addressed as symptoms. Health can be improved, weight can be lost, schedules can be changed, forgiveness can be given.

But there is a more systemic cause especially with couples who are parents. My experience talking with couples whose sex lives fade is that it can come down to the children. A husband and wife choose, sometimes unwittingly, to have a child-centered rather than a couple-centered marriage.

The difference is huge. Over the last 20 or 30 years, there has been a shift in parenting. Parents are more intentional in their parenting. And dads have become much more involved. There are a lot of positives from this shift in parental commitment.

When I grew up my dad and mom loved me and raised me right. They gave me the foundation for a successful life. But their lives did not revolve around me or my sister. I’ve told my boys many times how little they attended my games even though I was a three-sport athlete. They can’t believe that my folks hardly ever showed up for any of my games over many years of athletics. Today that would hardly ever happen.

Now parents are much more involved and this is good. But the marriage can become all about the kids. Their activities, their needs, and their wants are the center of the family. Mom and dad put their needs second to the children.

When parents put the kids before their marriage it leads to problems. A wife could simply not feel the same need for connection with her husband because of all her focus on the kids. A husband could spend so much time with the children that combined with his other responsibilities he is too tired for sex.

In a couple-centered marriage, a husband and wife put the marriage first. They recognize the obvious, the marriage existed before the children arrived and will exist after the children grow up and leave.

A couple loves and cares for their children. They meet their needs and some of their wants. They support the kids in various activities. But they do not sacrifice their marriage for the children. When a choice must be made they choose to put the marriage above the children.

And those decisions will come. Will we go out on a date night or chaperone the kids to one of their endless activities? Will we take a weekend away or will we stay home so we don’t miss even one of their games? Will we send the kids to bed and close our bedroom door or will we leave the door open and allow them to invade our privacy?

When parents put the kids before their marriage it leads to problems. A wife could simply not feel the same need for connection with her husband because of all her focus on the kids. A husband could spend so much time with the children that combined with his other responsibilities he is too tired for sex.

In the hectic nature of today’s family life, the key to sexual intimacy may be planning. When busy parents set a date for lovemaking they can look forward to their time together.

God invented sex. His desire is for married couples to enjoy it. A marriage without sex is not a true marriage.

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Children are a blessing from God. They need to be parented well. But parenting can never come at the expense of the marriage.

There is a better way. Put your marriage first.

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