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6 Tips For Dealing With A Sexually Incompatible Spouse

Sex

I grew up in the Church. I went to Christian schools too (well, my elementary education was Christ-like; looking back, the EEOC should've come in and shut my high school all the way down). Looking back, if there's one topic that never really got discussed in either setting, it's sex. It really is sad that although the Bible has PLENTY to say about it (Song of Solomon is an entire book about it!), in my humble opinion, far too many folks do the very opposite of what Genesis 2:24-25 instructs us not to do—they attach shame to nakedness. Sad. Very sad.


That's why, whenever I do premarital counseling couples, I tend to spend at least 3-4 weeks on sexual intimacy—what you were taught about sex, your views on sex, your expectations of sex, etc. Because if you're gonna actually do what you vowed and remain with someone until death parts you, that's a REALLY LONG TIME to be sittin' somewhere sexually pissed off at least half of the time.

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And yet. It happens. A LOT. Not just to couples who waited until marriage to partake, but people who felt they should "test the car before driving it too" (I'm with Meagan Good on this one—we need to drop that comparison; people are not cars). And since the importance of sex isn't explored as in-depth as it needs to be, lots of people find themselves faking it, making excuses not to do it or…yes, cheating. And you know what? All three of those approaches to sexual incompatibility are unhealthy and super counterproductive. They really are.

So, what do I recommend you should do if you and your spouse aren't as sexually harmonious as you'd like to be? For starters, consider that what's really going on may not be as much about sex as you might think. It could be a myriad of things that have created your not-so-perfect storm.

How To Deal With A Sexually Incompatible Partner

1. Ponder If It's Sexual or Emotional

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There's a couple I worked with where the husband hated to give oral sex but was all about receiving it. On the surface, this is childish and selfish, I'll give you that. But counseling is about digging beneath the surface. That said, his wife misspends money, makes major decisions without his input, plays the victim when she's called out on her reckless behavior and rarely apologizes for any of this. As a result, he feels like she also is a very selfish individual (he's right), so he doesn't want to give her his all. Naturally, he's not big on cunnilingus; however, he doesn't even feel the desire to "make the sacrifice" because of how put off he is emotionally.

Do you see how, on the surface, it looks like they aren't on the same page when it comes to a particular sex act when the reality is there is a profound emotional disconnection? Whatever it is that you and your spouse are struggling with in the bedroom, don't just assume that it's sexual or physical. Sometimes, there's a deep emotional issue going on too.

2. Next, Figure Out If It's Actually About Sex or Selfishness

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A lot of people frown on couples who wait until marriage to get it on, but here's something to keep in mind. When you're single and sexually active, whether you realize it or not, you tend to be pretty selfish. I'm not saying when it comes to your stamina, technique or tricks. I'm talking about your overall mentality. Single sex is about having sex solely on your terms. Married sex requires considering someone else and making compromises along the way.

Here's an example. Say that you love morning sex while your spouse prefers to have sex at night. Did you know that science is discovering that a part of what makes us morning people or night owls has to do with our genetic make-up? When you were single, you had sex when you felt like it; your partner(s) had to get in where they fit in.

Now that you're married, it's important to take your partner's needs into account.

If you like it in the morning, sometimes you might have to stay up late because they don't. If you're a night owl, sometimes you might need to sleep a couple of extra hours in order to get the job done before work. My point is this—whatever isn't happening the way that you would like, how much of it is about you wanting sex just the way you want it without figuring out if it pleases your partner or not? What some think is sexual incompatibility is really nothing short of 100 percent Grade-A selfishness. Real talk.

3. Openly Discuss How You Feel with Your Spouse

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There are a lot of couples who end up throwing in the towel because they are sexually dissatisfied. That might sound shallow to some, but if there is only one person that you're supposed to have sex with for the rest of your life, GOOD SEX is important. Here's the thing, though. Something that tops the list of why spouses divorce isn't sexual incompatibility or frustration; no, it's poor communication.

I can't tell you how many couples I've worked with who are M-A-D at their spouse for not being able to read their mind as far as what their needs are in the bedroom. Their spouse should know they're bored. Their spouse should know that they are not satisfied. Their spouse should know they are faking orgasms (actually, if someone is really paying attention to their partner, they should know this one).

We all know what they say that assuming does to a person. Well, "should" is assumption's favorite girlfriend. It's not fair to be upset about something you're not talking about. Oh, and by the way, discussing it doesn't mean blaming, humiliating or berating your partner. The brain is the biggest sex organ we have. You're going to do NOTHING for your sex life by belittling your partner in the effort to get more of what you want and need from them. (This applies to what's happening in the bedroom and out of it.)

4. Also, Be VERY CAREFUL Who You Share Your Issues With

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I can't remember who originated the quote, but one of my favorites is, "Complain to someone who can actually help you." To be at work or on the phone with someone who also has a less-than-stellar sex life isn't going to help you to take a more positive and proactive approach to what's happening in your own bedroom. All it's going to do is encourage you to be even more negative about your situation. Also, based on who you're talking to (and how often), it might set you up to be caught up in an emotional affair as well.

There's something else to consider when you're discussing your bedroom issues—just because you're dissatisfied doesn't mean the next gal would be. Make sure you're talking to someone who is genuinely being helpful…not just nosey. And ultimately, messy.

5. Make Sex a Higher Priority in Your Relationship

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Another couple that I've worked with? They've been married for over a decade, the husband is headed towards his late 40s, and he still prefers to have sex 3-4 times a day (quickies included). His wife? She's good with having it a couple of times a month. Yep, sexually incompatible.

Some might wonder how they even jumped the broom with an issue like this not being addressed. Oh, but this is another example of how having sex before marriage can creep up on you. When they were dating, it was a long-distance relationship. So, of course, they could have sex for hours on end whenever they saw one another. But once they got married and saw each other every day, things changed. It reminds me of a hilarious comedy clip that I recently watched entitled, "Real Couples Don't Hold Each Other All Night".

Sometimes sex before marriage falsely advertises in ways we wouldn't predict.

What did I recommend that they do? Make sex a priority in their marriage; not just the physical aspect but the emotional and spiritual too. While she needed to be open to having sex more often, her husband needed to think about what he could do to make his wife desire him more from an emotional and spiritual standpoint.

Sometimes spouses aren't sexually compatible because they don't feel close enough to their partner to want to do certain things or have sex more often. Sometimes, when the other rooms of the house are handled (metaphorically speaking), the bedroom takes care of itself.

6. Put a "Sexual Needs Box" on Each Nightstand

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A lot of us make relationships a lot more complicated than they have to be because we act like a want is an actual need.

Wants are what we desire; needs are what is required.

Am I saying that sex is not a need? I am saying the total opposite of that! Even the Bible says that if you withhold from your partner, you can open the doors to all sorts of mayhem and foolishness (I Corinthians 7:1-5). From a legal standpoint, some states will let you have what is called a "fault divorce". Things that fall under this category are constructive desertion, cruelty or abandonment based on a lack of marital relations (sex).

However, sex is a pretty general word. In order to have great sex with your partner, it's important to also discuss what both of your wants and needs are. What are y'all's desires vs. what is required for you to feel fully satisfied (essential)? Talk those things out, jot them down on sheets of paper, pick up a couple of boxes from Target or Pottery Barn and put those answers inside. Your answer box should go on your husband's nightstand; his should go on yours. Then make it a point to revisit what is on those sheets of paper and mutually commit to meeting one another's needs (more often).

Even if your spouse isn't the perfect sex partner, a part of what your love commitment is all about is meeting each other's needs—in the bedroom or out. If you're both determined to do that, you have a lifetime to learn how to make each other climb the walls; to make sexual incompatibility a temporary issue, not a lifelong sentence.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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