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Can Sexual Desire Be Reclaimed in a ‘Good Enough’ Marriage?

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Can Sexual Desire Be Reclaimed in a ‘Good Enough’ Marriage?

I have an online community where people are able to come together to talk about desire, relationships, healthy sexuality, love, marriage and self image. All the stuff that most of us struggle with. Right now there is a hot topic in the community.

One woman wrote this question of our sexuality and intimacy coaches:

“Do you believe that lost desire can be reclaimed? Specifically, in a long, happy enough marriage, where sexual desire and satisfaction used to exist, can we find a new way to pleasure when it’s been gone for a while?”

It’s a great and timeless question, that has kept marriage counselors, sex therapists, and intimacy coaches in groceries for a very long time. The first thing is to acknowledge that many marriages are just like this woman’s marriage. They are good enough, happy enough, and functional enough. These marriages raise children, support communities, provide important emotional support, and companionship, while offering a level of financial security to the people who are in them. There is often plenty of love and attachment in these unions, which for a great many people is something worth staying for – even if the sexual fire in the relationship has long faded.

As a life coach that often supports people with sexuality and intimacy issues, it was hard not to start spouting the usual advice about how to relight that dying sexual fire.

Some of it is good advice like giving each other space so the air can come in again, followed up by taking intentional time to be together. We talk about trying new sex toys to “Sex at Dawn” polyamory and the possibilities of an open marriage. The discussions often are filled with thoughts such as “Perhaps we weren’t ever made to be monogamous in the first place?”

Even the most conservative of the conservatives, Newt Gingrich, either wanted an open marriage or demonstrated his sexual boredom by having serial monogamish relationships spotted by hidden affairs.

We have all heard it before – and frankly I have written it before. But as a grown mid-life woman who has been in a mostly traditional marriage for close to 30 years, I know the truth about most things. There is no Santa Claus, it is nearly impossible to lose weight and keep it off, the sales are never on anything you really want to buy, and sexual boredom can grow like moss over most long term relationships (no matter how hot they were in their inception).

The question is really “Is it really possible to have a rich, long lasting and sexy relationship?” Is there a way to honestly keep the fire burning for decades and if it doesn’t, is there a way to relight it? Or are we all doomed to live like happy roommates into our golden years, sharing popcorn and pay per view night after night? Contented and dulled into our good night?

So three sex educators in my Shameless Community (including me) rose to the occasion and tried once again to come up with something meaningful to answer the question of what to do about the very good marriage that works on all fronts except when it comes to sex.

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Pamela Madsen

Pamela Madsen is an Integrative Life Coach Specializing In Women's Issues: Sexuality, Fertility, Body Image, Wellness and Rejuvenation. Pamela is also author of the best selling memoir Shameless (Rodale, Jan 2011), and founder of The American Fertility Association.Her websites and her daily blog,, are a breakfast essential for reporters, writers and policymakers.


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1:10AM PST on Nov 9, 2014

Thank you!

12:26PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Lovely photo- we all know marriages are for the hetrosexual.

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4:51PM PST on Feb 6, 2012

Work on the relationship and focus on meeting each other's needs. after 15 years, our spark has come back lately...

12:36PM PST on Feb 6, 2012

Sex can be a passionate, sacred act enhanced through the proper use of the sacramental herb, marijuana. Biran Sefar notes this in "Her Sacred Blessing, Cannabis."

4:29PM PST on Feb 4, 2012


12:23PM PST on Feb 4, 2012

Good point, marriage isn't supposed to be about sexual fire, just missionary position sex, for reproduction purposes only. The Christian Taliban of America decrees that one woman and one man shall have a lifetime sentence and it's not SUPPOSED to be enjoyable! That would be a SIN! Marriage is a PUNISHMENT for sins of the FLESH! Where did anybody get the idea it was supposed to be "satisfying"? Ask Newt Gingrich's ex wives what women are supposed to get out of marriage, he's a member of the Catholic regime (front for the mob). The woman in this article is lucky she hasn't been dumped yet. She needs to shut up and be subservient. AND she's lucky her husband hasn't whored around and brought home a bunch of stds YET. "Is it possible to have a rich, long lasting, sexy relationship"? The answer is: no, not if you're Catholic.

2:42AM PST on Feb 4, 2012

Very interesting....advocates for finding heightened sexuality. I like!

12:49AM PST on Feb 4, 2012


11:52PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

Good article:) Thank you!

8:35PM PST on Feb 3, 2012

First of just what the hell does 'good enough' mean good enough to stick it out, good enough not to justify diviorce. Marriage as the Christian Taliban of America is always telling us is vow before God till death do you part, except for all the exceptions and must be limited to one man and one woman only. Sex outside of the marriage with or without the consent of all involved is still adultery. And I do believe that adultery is still a prosecutable crime in some states as is any sexual act other than the missionary position and that does include all formes of oral sex. So do check your state and local laws. And face it marriage is still nothing more than property contract, historically passing ownership of the woman from the father to the husband designed to ensure that only his offspring ingerit his estate.

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