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Bring The Sex Back Into Marriage

Tara and Chris Patterson have a lively family life. What they don't always have is a lively sex life.

"My intimate relationship with my wife went from oh, couple times a week to maybe once or twice a month or longer," Chris says.

Chris's wife Tara agrees.

"There's homework [with kids], there's bath, dinner, story time," she explains. "I've started at 6:30 in the morning and by 9:30 … to exert more mental energy, it's a challenge."

The Pattersons are not alone. Low libidos are claiming the love lives of millions of couples. Sex experts estimate that one out of every three marriages suffers from spouses who have mismatched sexual desire.

That was the problem with the Pattersons' sex life.

Married seven years and mother to 6-year-old Adam and 2-year-old Caden, Tara felt a drop in her libido after the birth of her first son.

"You start to think the first thing — must be hormones," Tara says. "Why wouldn't the feeling be there? It had nothing to do with my husband."

Chris was not sure how to respond. "I was feeling that she wasn't attracted to me or she didn't desire me," Chris says. "I thought there was something going on that maybe she loved me but was not in love with me."

Love was not the issue. With counseling, the two realized their mismatched sexual desire was mainly due to Tara's exhaustion and their different definitions of intimacy.

"For men, they're ready to go at any point in time, and women need to be enticed or romanced, to put them in the mood two or three days before the act even happens," Chris explains.

Tara believes men show love for their wives in the bedroom.

"It's an actual affection," she says. "It's a way they show their love and when we don't accept it, it's a big rejection."

Together, they're learning how to get their sexual appetite back.

They went out on dates and, the couple says, felt like school kids. But with a new house they're renovating themselves, life is showing no signs of slowing down. They say finding time for sex is an ongoing project. But, they say, it's important to make time for a significant other, and it must be made a priority.

Michele Weiner Davis, the author of "The Sex-Starved Marriage," tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler sex is very important in a relationship.

During two decades as a marriage therapist, Weiner Davis has witnessed countless couples being complacent about their lack of intimacy - a formula, she says, for marital disaster.

"Like Chris was saying, for the person yearning for more touch, it's about feeling wanted, it's about feeling connected and feeling loved," Davis says. "And when that major misunderstanding happens in marriages - and it is across America - what tends to happen is that intimacy on all levels drops out. They stop laughing at each other's jokes; they don't sit next to each other on the couch. They stop being friends and it puts marriages at risk for infidelity and divorce and that's really not good."

Davis says the following are signs of a sex-starved marriage:

  • Arguing about sex
  • Underlying tension
  • Feeling distant

    While the above story is common in terms of the kids, Davis notes, "What's not so commonly talked about is that women do not have a corner on the low libido mark. There are millions of men too ashamed to talk about it, but not feeling the desire for the same reason women aren't. Because no one is talking about - the women are thinking they are the only ones whose husbands are not chasing them around the kitchen. This is very, very common."

    A couple, however, can take the following steps to get the spark back, according to Davis:

  • Tune in to your spouse's turn-ons. Davis explains, "I say that feeling sexy is a two-person job. So I kind of divided between the high desire spouse and the low desire spouse. Very often, the person with more sexual desire does the very things that turn him or her on like buying sex videos, sex toys and lingerie and the other spouse says, 'Enough already, would you please back off?' Instead, focus on what you can do outside the bedroom. For example, an offer to take care of the kids so your spouse can sleep in early on Saturday morning."
  • Use the "f" word: feelings
  • Just do it! - Davis notes, "There is some exciting new research that suggests that for over 50 percent of the population, sexual desire doesn't just happen. They have to make it happen. And the best way to make it happen is to be responsive to your partner's advance. It really works."
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