Joe and Trish have been married for thirteen years. They have two young daughters and both work in high-demand industries. They came to me three years ago when they realized that their relationship was teetering on the edge of demise, as it had been eighteen months since they last had sex.
Joe, an investment banker, blamed Trish. “She’s never in the mood. And she’s obsessed with the kids. She’s too busy. Everything is about her work or the kids – she’s got nothing left for me by time we go to bed”.
Trish, a C-level executive in the publishing industry, admitted that she was overcommitted, but wanted Joe to take some of the responsibility. “I work a lot. And I take care of the kids. And I take care of myself, our household and my husband. He would eat potato chips for dinner and feed the kids hot dogs if I didn’t take it on. If he stepped up, I’d have more energy for him — for intimacy…for sex.”
She complained that his lack of regard for his own health is also a detriment to their sex life. “When we met, he was active. He played football with the guys. He went to the gym. We lived a pretty healthy lifestyle. Since he became a partner in his firm, he’s no longer invested in his health. He eats on the go. He doesn’t workout. His driver takes him everywhere. He’s not interested in anything active on the weekend – he’d rather watch sports than play them. And all of this is reflected in his energy levels too. It’s true that I’m exhausted at the end of the day, but he’s tired too.”
Joe agreed. “I don’t have time to exercise. I work 15 hour days and if I actually get a weekend off, I just want to recover. And I can’t live on kale and quinoa”.
When I met Trish and Joe, they agreed that their marriage was in trouble and that they had to do something drastic to save it. They were willing to go away for a retreat, see a therapist and even asked me to come into their bedroom to “coach” them through a sex session. So when I assigned their homework after our first meeting, they were perplexed and openly disappointed; I asked them to abstain from partnered sex, walk to work two days a week, masturbate twice per week, and order healthy meals from a local meal prep company Monday – Wednesday. They were not impressed.
“We came to you because we heard you were unconventional. And progressive. You’re supposed to help us with sex – not diet and transportation. We don’t need to have our hands held”, Joe said almost under his breath. “We need something radical. We haven’t had sex in a year and a half!”
I promised them that we could get more “radical”, after the following session (we were scheduled to meet two weeks later) if they stuck to the two-week plan. Reluctantly, they agreed — only because two of their neighbours had worked with me in the past and insisted that I knew what I was doing.
When the three of us met again two weeks later, Joe was singing a different tune. “I didn’t think I could fit the 25-minute walk into my busy day, but I did it because Laurie and Jim (their neighbour) said I should listen to you. It was nice to move again. And the walk gave me a chance to clear my head in the morning. I’m not going to lie, the first day, Mo (his driver) followed alongside in the car”.
Trish was happier too. “Ordering those meals made all the difference. I felt guilty at first — like I was failing as a mom, but three days without cooking meant I had time to wash my hair. It seems silly, but I feel like I don’t even have time to take care of myself. There’s just one thing…”
“We had sex yesterday”! Joe interrupted.
“It was against the rules”, Trish continued, “but the mood struck and we just had to take advantage of it before it went away. I’m usually too exhausted. He’s usually so low energy, but we just had to do it, because it has been such an elephant in the room. It was a little awkward at first, but then I got into it.”
Trish and Joe’s story is exceptional. Two weeks of small changes don’t often amount to breaking a 78-week dry spell in the bedroom, but for them, the dietary shifts amounted to drastic change:
I’m not suggesting that changing your diet will automatically reignite your sex life, but setting nutritional goals can be good for your relationship. Check out my top three tips based on my experience working with couples who have transformed their relationships by making small lifestyle changes to their daily routines.
If you’re not happy with your relationship or sex life, today is the day to take action! Whether you want to adjust your schedules, diet, workout regimen or parenting routine, let your partner know just how much you care about living the best life possible and always begin from a place of love and kindness.
A recognized Toronto-based expert on sexuality and relationships, Dr. Jess has a unique ability to normalize the subjects of sex with her gentle humor and friendly disposition. She holds a PhD degree in Human Sexuality. Dr. Jess has worked with over 2000 couples from all corners of the world to overcome sexual challenges. She’s also the author of three best-selling books and loves to travel.
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