7 Things Married Couples Do To Damage Their Sex Lives & Don't Even Know It


Whenever I do an interview about being a marriage life coach, a question that typically comes up is what's the one thing that's a consistent issue in marital unions? No doubt about it, sex is in the Top 2. If the couple is not having a sexual issue in and of itself, the other challenges within their relationship are directly affecting—and by that, I mean, infecting—their sex life.

I once heard a senior woman who'd been married 70 years say that one of the main distinctions between married couples and every other type of relationship is sex is supposed to transpire, on a regular basis, between spouses. I wholeheartedly agree. That's why, whenever married partners aren't having 1) sex; 2) consistent sex and/or 3) good sex, I don't see it as a minor inconvenience. I see it as a problem. A pretty major one, at that.

You might've heard that reportedly 15-20 percent of married couples in America are in a sexless marriage (meaning they're having sex less than 10-15 times a year). But if you're wondering what's going on behind the scenes to make that the case, I just want to take out a few minutes to share with you some under-the-radar reasons that are resulting in waaaaaaaay too many husbands and wives not getting the FIRE SEX that they certainly deserve.

Not Making Sex a TOP Priority


Over the years, there are couples who've told me that once I get married, I'll look up and months will go by without any action going on. They say it's a part of marriage (yeah…OK). What's interesting is these same couples hold grudges for weeks on end, constantly fight about stuff and, while they may love each other, they don't seem to like each other very much. My point? It's not "normal" to not make sex a priority in marriage. When a couple fails to do so, it's usually indicative of other issues that are going on.

We make work a priority because we've got bills to pay. We make children a priority because they are our responsibility. If you're married and sex is not a priority to you, think about why it's not important. That will reveal A LOT.

There are 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week. A man needs five minutes to have an orgasm. A woman, on average, needs 25 minutes. Finding 30 minutes a couple of times a week to strengthen your immune system, lower your stress levels, and make you feel more connected to your partner—shouldn't that take precedence? (That's a nonrhetorical question, by the way!)

Not Getting Your Hormone Levels Checked

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There's a woman I know who recently went into menopause and refuses to take an estrogen supplement but constantly complains about her husband wanting to have sex when she doesn't. Whenever I mention to her that her hormone levels dropping probably has something to do with her low libido, she brushes it off. That's unfortunate.

In order for us to be in the mood, our estrogen and testosterone levels need to be on point. Just like a woman's libido can tank during menopause (or even perimenopause), a lot of men go through what is known as andropause, which is when middle-aged men see a drop in their testosterone levels.

However, being that things like stress and diet can also alter our hormones, lowered levels is not simply an age-related issue. If lately, you've lost that lovin' feeling, make an appointment to see your doctor. It may just be a matter of altering your lifestyle a bit or them giving you a prescription in order to get your hormones back on track.

Not Going to Bed at the Same Time

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Guess how many couples don't go to bed at the same time? A whopping 75 percent! Why is that a problem? Well, for one thing, with all of the hustle and bustle that transpires throughout the day, sometimes the only time a couple can connect is when they are engaging in a little bit of pillow talk. Then, there are studies that indicate the couples who have mismatched sleeping patterns not only have more marital conflict, they have less sex too.

Case in point. One of my clients is always complaining that his wife's drive is not as high as his. She admits that is true, but she says that a part of the problem is he likes to have sex in the middle of the night when she's an early riser and is more down for morning sex. He has a studio in their home and so he likes to record late at night. Whenever I suggest going to bed with her a couple of times a night, he's got excuses for why he needs to create during that time instead.

Listen brotha, marriage is about compromise. Do you want to create songs or some content for them? Just sayin'.

Not Scaping the "Land"


Another couple that I work with used to not see eye-to-eye on oral sex. Let's just say that the husband was very DJ Khaled about it all (SMH). For years, the wife conceded (reluctantly so) and it really started to take a toll on their relationship. I get why too. A man who thinks he should receive oral sex without giving it is selfish, at best. Love is not selfish.

Yeah, what this husband was on didn't sit well with me, so I dug deeper. Although he did admit that the taste wasn't his favorite thing on the planet, the bigger issue was that there was no landscaping in his wife's nether regions. She said that since he never went down there, she didn't see the point.

Fast forward about three months later, and her face was beaming. When I asked why, her husband said, "Because the jungle is now a golf course." #dead

I've done some unofficial polling about how important pubic hair maintenance is. You might be amazed how much it matters—to both men and women. Sometimes the minor things can become major issues.

If oral isn't happening as much as you'd like, check with your partner about if the hair condition down there has anything to do with it. A little trim may open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Not "Saying Grace"

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Whatever. Laugh if you want to, but I know several couples who say grace before coitus. Like, a literal "Heavenly Father, for what we are about to receive, we thank you" prayer. Even one of my favorite New Age books The Celestine Prophecy touches on the importance of acknowledging a higher power when it comes to the resources that we have; how when we do, it makes experiencing those things that much sweeter.

And you know what? It might sound crazy, but the folks who pray before sex say that the experience is soooooooooooooo much better whenever they do.

Look, if you're saying "Oh God!" during sex anyway (and A LOT of folks are), why not get things going by asking him to give you the strength and power to set it totally off up in your bedroom?

Makes good sense to me. Either way, don't knock it until you try it.

Not Having Foreplay Throughout the Day


I remember hearing a senior-aged pastor once say (from the pulpit, which I really dug) that he and his wife continue to have off the charts sex. Why? Because of his foreplay game. Only, he wasn't talking about the stuff that happens moments before intercourse. He described ironing his wife's clothes the night before, helping her with the dishes and calling her in the middle of the day, just to say how much he loved her as being acts of foreplay.

A man working two jobs being told how much he's appreciated. A new mom being told how unbelievably sexy she is. Their spouse can be clear on the other side of the town when they say these things yet I'm willing to bet that their partner wants to jump their bones the very moment they get home!

A lot of married couples are totally jacking up their sex life because either there's not enough physical foreplay before sex or worse, there's not enough "I want to stimulate your mind and connect with you emotionally" foreplay throughout the day.

Try it. See how much your spouse ends up liking it.

Not Being Spontaneous (Even If You Have To "Plan" It)


I can't stand the whole "Who wants to eat the same food every day?" line of thinking some folks have for why they don't want to get married. Feel free to jump in the comments here but, from what I hear, a lot of husbands and wives don't get sexually bored due to them always having sex with the same person; it's more about always doing the same things with the same person—week after week, month after month, year after year.

An author by the name of François Du Toit once said, "The moment you exchange spontaneity with rules, you've lost the edge of romance." Along these lines, when's the last time you've inboxed your spouse a hotel reservation, sent them some sexy lingerie via a courier or initiated sex in a location that was nowhere close to your bed?

A lot of us will put creativity into any and everything BUT our sex lives. Surprise your spouse with something sex-related that they would never expect. I'd be floored if it didn't help to add some spice into your sex life!

A lot of us will put creativity into any and everything BUT our sex lives. Surprise your spouse with something sex-related that they would never expect. I'd be floored if it didn't help to add some spice into your sex life!

Featured image by Getty Images.

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I think we all know what it feels like to have our favorite sex toy fail us in one way or another, particularly the conundrum of having it die mid-use. But even then, there has never been a part of me that considered using random objects around my house. Instinctively, I was aware that stimulating my coochie with a makeshift dildo would not be the answer to my problem. But, instead, further exacerbate an already frustrating situation…making it…uncomfortable, to say the least.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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