Recently the question was raised by some of my colleagues as to whether there can be happiness in a sexless marriage. An article on the subject refers to the research of Robert Epstein, a psychologist who reports that 10 to 20% of the romantic relationships in the U.S. are sexless.
According to Epstein, a sexless relationship is defined as one in which the partners have had sex less than once a month or less than 10 times a year. Others writing in the field take the word more literally – suggesting that many couples happy with that schedule would not describe their relationship as sexless.
Maybe the question of how sexual a marriage is and whether or not the partners are happy is a far more complicated one than the rate of sexual intercourse over time.
Work with couples would suggest that happiness from sexual relating must account for the trust and special connection partners feel for one another, the way they hold, touch, laugh, tease, celebrate, walk together, worry about, lean on, cry with, nickname, argue, text and call each other — the many dimensions of sexual intimacy.
Are you lonely?
Loneliness is defined as a lack of desired social connection and social support. It is often associated with feelings of isolation, worthlessness, and sadness. Loneliness is not necessarily the state of being alone. One can be utterly lonely in a room full of people who don’t seem to notice, in a college dorm with no special friend, in a marriage with no understanding. Loneliness is not the peaceful solitude we cherish. It is the pain of being without meaningful connection, a feeling of emptiness that entraps us in fears, longing and negative perceptions about ourselves and others.
Loneliness is widely prevalent. In a survey of eighteen countries, the United States was in the top quarter of countries in terms of average levels of loneliness.
On Sunday we commemorate the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, an event of unthinkable proportion in terms of the destruction of civilian lives and life as we knew it. Globally, millions will bear witness to this terrorist assault from the retrospective of ten years. Many will resonate with the commonalities of loss, fear, courage and even growth that have unfolded. At the same time, the personal meaning of the 10th Anniversary and the reactions it evokes will be unique to the men, women and children whose lives have never stopped being touched by that day.
How do we cope with the 10th anniversary of a traumatic event of such proportion? How do we withstand the physical and emotional pain of re-triggered shock, loss, traumatic memory? Now, ten years later, how do we bear witness and re-visit in a way that gives more than it takes?
Ten Coping Strategies
Make Meaning of Anniversary Reactions - The nature of anniversary events is that they often trigger the same reactions of body and mind tied to the original trauma but experienced in the present i.e. hyperarousal (anxiety, sleep problems, startle response, concentration problems); intrusive imaging (memories, flashbacks and dreams); numbing, avoidance and constriction. Such anniversary reactions in addition to feelings of fear, anger, guilt, and grief are common in the weeks before and after an anniversary event.
If you are feeling anxious about the upcoming 10th Anniversary of 9/11 — you are not alone. Nationally and internationally the world is focusing on commemorating a day of unthinkable destruction of lives and life as we have known it. As such, the event has private and public significance that evokes a broad range of reactions, body memories and feelings.
Trauma theorists tell us that we heal in community, that we heal by bearing witness to atrocity, the we need to remember and mourn and that we must give voice to what has happened to inform future generations.