Do you desire sex? If you said no, why is that? Is it because you have lost your desire completely or is it because you aren’t giving yourself enough space to have that desire? In this episode, I look at the reasons why you no longer feel the desire for sex that you did when you were first married. And the answer to how to get that back may be a bit surprising because it really all comes down to one thing.
I was recently scrolling through my instagram feed and came across a post on one of my favorite people to follow, a Jewish Sexuality Educator, @yoninarubinstin. The graphic said “Why I assumed I wanted sex” and showed a circle with the words Low Desire in it. And then it had a second headline “Why I actually didn’t want sex” and showed a pie chart with 11 different reasons. Let me tell you what those reasons were:
- Low Desire
- Sexual Shame – Episode 78
- Lack of Emotional Intimacy – Episode 188
- Past Trauma – Episode 182
- Low Body Image – Episode 74
- Lack of Sexual Communication – Episode 126 & Episode 126
- General Stress – Episode 101
- Mental Health Issues – Episode 108
- Not enjoying the sex I’m having – Episode 146
- Physical Health Issues – Episode 148
- Hormonal Imbalance – (coming soon!)
I’ll include that graphic in the show notes.
I hear from women all the time who say they just don’t have a desire for sex. They wonder where it went and how they can get it back. They don’t realize they have a good reason for that low or non-existent desire. It’s actually not that they don’t have the ability to have desire, but they often don’t have the capacity for it. Desire requires space and freedom.
While I have discussed many of the reasons listed on that graphic in past podcasts (they will be listed in the show notes if you want to know more), today I want to focus on creating the space for desire to exist.
Women today have the impossible task of being everything to everyone. We have a running task list that is never ending. We have to be in a million places at once. We have husbands, children, callings, jobs, friends, extended family, schools all competing for our attention. Not to mention managing the house, appointments, and the calendar of our entire family. Our physical and mental loads are exhausting. We don’t have the physical space in our day or on our calendar or the mental space for anything else. Desire requires space, and because in your life you are busy doing all of the things, physically and mentally, you won’t have desire because there is no room for it. Sometimes we think that we can only get to this place of desire and eroticism and aliveness when all the duties are done. But it’s never going to be done. There are always more things to do.
So what do we do?
First we need to understand that this life is not meant to be a running to do list. Of course it’s good for us to have responsibilities and to do things with our life. Of course we need to take care of our children and our homes. But we have to create space for ourselves too. I think many times women are looking for permission to not do everything. But we see all the perfect people on Facebook and Instagram, with their hair perfect, and their children dressed to the nines, and their immaculate houses styled and gorgeous and we think that needs to be us too. Also, the “woman who does it all” is often the woman who is put on the pedestal in church talks and videos. The self-sacrificing woman is praised. And so instead of creating space for our imperfect selves to exist, we are constantly striving for perfection while barely surviving. We think our value as a wife, as a mother, as a woman, is measured by what we accomplish. This is NOT the life we were meant to live. When we are running ourselves ragged, we forget to just be still. In stillness, we can meet ourselves, and rejuvenate ourselves. But no one is going to give us permission to do this. No one can do this for us. We have to do it for ourselves. We have to give ourselves permission to leave the things undone and to shift into this different space where we can not just exist, but thrive.
We have to move into this part of our mind, where nothing else exists so that we can create. Create room for experience. Create room for desire. Obligations keep you going from thing to thing and you don’t have room for openness and creativity. Right now you are reacting to life. Reactivity is something already there and you are reacting to it which is not the same as creativity. Creativity is a life force. Creativity is Godlike. Creativity is the act of creating something from nothing. And if your life is so full, you have no room for creativity. You need to reconnect with your Eros energy.
What is Eros energy? The most common answer is the energy of love, romance, and sex. But, Eros is so much more than that.
In Greek Mythology, we have the story of Eros and Psyche. The human Psyche is separated from her divine lover Eros and has to undergo daunting trials, including traveling to the underworld, until she can be united again with Eros and produce their child, Voluptas, which means “Joyful Pleasure.”
We have to undergo struggles and daunting trials in this life. But when we can reconnect to Eros, we too can have joyful pleasure. Because Eros isn’t just about romantic love or eroticism, it’s about reconnecting to the passionate energy within ourselves. Eros energy is the life-blood of our daily lives, the healthy relationality with ourselves and others that makes life delicious. Erotic in the mystical terminology is aliveness, energy, vibrancy, vitality, life force. The difference of being dead or alive. Maybe you’re not dead, but you aren’t alive either.
Many women don’t feel like they deserve this. They think that in order to deserve the deliciousness of life, the pleasure, the joy, that they must, again, be perfect. But this is not true. “Men are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) But often, we choose suffering over joy. Why? We think that we are supposed to suffer in this life and that we don’t deserve to have joy and pleasure. But that is the complete opposite of what you’re supposed to experience. Of course there is going to be pain in this life, but when we do things that keep ourselves from joy we are adding to the suffering. We suffer when we think that something has gone wrong when in fact we are not doing things to make it go right.
You do deserve joy. You deserve pleasure. You deserve fun. And even if you don’t feel like you don’t deserve it, just want it. Just because. You can want even if you don’t feel like you deserve it. It’s ok to want. It’s ok to desire. Desire, joy and fun are crucial to our human experience. It is not selfish. It is not self-indulgent. It is an important part of life.
In order to have this space, to experience creativity, fun, and joy, things will have to change. As you say “YES!” To yourself, you will have to learn to say “no” to other things. You need to learn that it’s ok to disappoint others. In the book Untamed, by Glennon Doyle she tells a story about her daughter Tish.
“TISH: Chase wants me to join the same club he joined in middle school. I don’t want to.
GLENNON: So don’t.
TISH: But I don’t want to disappoint him.
GLENNON: Listen. Every time you’re given a choice between disappointing someone else and disappointing your-self, your duty is to disappoint that someone else. Your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself.
TISH: Even you?
GLENNON: Especially me.
(Untamed, pg 173)
That is a HARD thing to learn…or unlearn. We are taught our entire lives that other people’s emotions are more important than our desires. That it’s our job to make sure everyone is ok and happy. I can’t tell you how many women I talk to think it’s their job to make their husband happy. This is a lie. It is not. In fact, it is impossible. It is impossible to make your husband happy. His feelings come from inside of him. But it is your job to show up as the best person you can be, showing love for first, yourself, and second, towards others. If you are loving others and not loving yourselves, that is in direct violation of the 2nd great commandment. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” You have to love yourself first. And from that place, you can love others. But if you aren’t loving yourself first, it is impossible to truly love others because you will be sacrificing pieces of yourself along the way and you will grow resentful.
I think one of the best questions we can ask ourselves (and I got this question from Jennifer Finlayson-Fife) is “Where do my resentments lie?” That question can point you to where you are not doing a good job of loving yourself and taking care of yourself.
A couple more questions I want you to ask yourself – these questions I got from Esther Perel. She says ask yourself
“I turn myself off when…”. Notice how it’s not “I’m turned off” or “my husband turns me off” it’s “I turn myself off. Ask yourself and write down your answers. If possible, I want you to pause this podcast and write them down. Then when you are done writing, come back and hit play. Hit pause now…
Ok, did you write them down? What was on your list? The most common answers I see from women for this question are things like:
- I don’t shower
- I haven’t exercised
- When I’m thinking about all that I have to do
- When I’m taking care of others
- When I’m not taking care of myself
- When I’m running around like a crazy person
- When I overeat or think about my body and weight
Now, I want you to ask yourself “I turn myself on when…” or you could phrase it “I awaken myself with…” Pause the podcast and answer that question.
Ok, did you write them down? What was on this list? The most common answers I see for this question is
- I take care of myself
- When I am in touch with my aliveness
- In touch with my inner beauty
You are turned on, awake, alive, when you create space for yourself. But so many women, again feel like they don’t deserve this. So when their partner approaches them for sex, they aren’t in a space to be open to it and receive it because you haven’t taken the time to turn yourself on. And then we go into the “I don’t deserve this.” “I don’t feel good about myself.” You have your critical voice in there. You are too worried about others or your to-do list. You think that you can’t just “check out of my life and pay attention to myself or pay attention to this man.” This wonderful man, who is your husband, who wants to love you and spend time with you and give you joy and pleasure. This man who wants to spend time nurturing you. You are not in a place to receive any of that and most likely you are even bothered by his request.
When was the last time that you felt alive? Radiant? Joyful? Energized? Erotic?
I’m going to leave you with a challenge today. On top of answering the 3 questions that I posed in this episode
- Where do my resentments lie
- I turn myself off when
- I turn myself on when
My challenge to you is to do something every day that is just for you. Ignite that erotic, aliveness, and passion within yourself (and it doesn’t even have to be sexual at this point) but ignite that in you and see what happens.
Join me on Instagram this week where we can talk about how you answered these questions and have a discussion about what you are doing to ignite that aliveness back into your life and create space for desire.