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Are You Stuck in a Sexual Rut?

Sexual Life of Muslim Couples

If you look at the latest movie and TV offerings, it would seem like everyone is “doing it” and doing it a lot. But according to a Health.com article, 40 million Americans are in a sexless marriage, meaning they have sex less than 10 times a year.

Many Muslim couples go through the same. Sex and intimacy are pretty low on the radar of many couples looking after children, working and doing chores. Add financial woes, stress and technology into the mix and some couples’ sex lives are pretty much non-existent.

This is a huge problem because a healthy sex life is a critical part of a good marriage. For the man, sex creates feelings of security, love and validation. For the woman, sex creates a feeling of connection, fulfillment and security. And let’s not forget that sex is enjoyable and pleasurable for both.

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According to John Gottman in his book “10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage”, no sex in a marriage has a much more powerful negative impact on a marriage than good sex has a positive impact.

Nadirah Angail, a family therapist and writer says couples should first root out any deeper issues, particularly if the couple started out having a good sex life.

If couples fix their deeper issues, they fix their sex life, she says. “Many times, couples may grow resentful because of unaddressed issues that are festering, like trust issues, or financial issues, or family issues (i.e., “Your mother doesn’t respect me.”). These things bleed over into the bedroom,” Angail writes.

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So once a couple rules out any medical, physical and emotional aspects that may have caused the rut, they realize it’s normal for people in long-term relationships to go through periods of less intimacy. In fact, a decline in love and satisfaction after the initial stages of a relationship is well documented in modern psychology.

So how do couples find themselves in this situation?

In the beginning, most couples find themselves wanting and experiencing an intense primal connection together. This is the stage that is driven by lust, chemistry, hormones and newness.

This stage is often referred to as the honeymoon stage. After a while, a couple’s sexual desire becomes driven not only by chemistry but by love as well. Their partner is often placed on a pedestal while they continue to be hot and heavy for each other.

Finally, the relationship evolves into the comfortability stage. Routine sets in. The love does not feel as intense and the feeling no longer triggers a sexual response. Sex becomes less frequent and more of a chore.

Couples begin to become sexually awkward towards each other. Initiating sex becomes complex and is fraught with the fear of rejection and anxiety.

So instead of going through the disappointment, criticism and self-consciousness, couples rather spend their time doing non-sexual activities like watching TV or playing with the kids. This way there is less chance of feeling rejected and unwanted.

Why communication is key?

So how can married couples rekindle their once passionate sex life and start once again to have a healthy sex life?

Firstly by recognizing that they have allowed their intimate time to take a back seat, either out of fatigue or fear. Angail believes couples need to simply get on the same page before moving on to more creative methods to fix the problem.

Are You Stuck in a Sexual Rut? - About Islam

“Couples have to have a calm and direct conversation about their unmet needs,” she says.

It’s not about placing the blame on each other but coming up with a solution that both are comfortable with. Once they have that first vital conversation and open the doors of communication, the sex usually falls into place.

There is also a possibility that one spouse could be bored with the sex life but is afraid to say it. Safiyya Jihad Levine, a writer, counselor and Muslim chaplain in the U.S., says transparency is essential in this case.

You might be surprised by what you learn from your partner during the process, but couples should not be afraid to express their physical needs from each other. She extols that this is the reality in our communities. Our brothers, as well as our sisters, have these desires.

“Why should our brothers have to go outside of their marriages to have their ‘needs’ met? and why can’t they go to their wives or feel they can’t? Why do wives feel they can’t ask to have these needs met? What holds us back?  

Muslims are human beings with human feelings, needs, and sexual fantasies,” says Levine.  Communicating this honestly and openly to your spouse is vital if we want couples to have a healthy and fulfilling sex life within in the boundaries of sharia.

Once a couple reclaims the space for sex in their minds and verbalizes it, they can move on to more practical strategies to improve their sex life.

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About Fatima Bheekoo-Shah
Fatima Bheekoo-Shah is the author of "Saffron" (A collection of personal narratives by Muslim women), a freelance writer and book reviewer. She resides in Gauteng, South Africa. A book nerd and avid reader, Fatima is always looking for her next great read.