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Before they had reached even six months of marriage, Chris Mower developed a rather significant concern for his relationship wellness: he and his wife weren’t having much sex. When he tried to discuss the couple’s sexual health problems with wife, Afton, she changed the subject or ignored it. Chris said that, whatever he tried, ‘It didn’t change anything.’
Over the years, Chris tracked their sex life in a notebook he kept in his nightstand, with a code for various scenarios: he initiated sex but was declined, they planned on sex but didn’t follow through, or they actually had sex. Chris noted that being rebuffed 95% of the time made him grumpy, gaining weight and not wanting to come home at night. He commented, ‘For me to feel good about myself, I needed her to have sex with me. Otherwise I thought she didn’t love me.’
This is familiar turf for many married couples; differing expectations about sex. However, the Mowers are unusual in their willingness to talk about it, but as they came up with a solution they believe saved their marriage, they want to let other couples know. It’s like the scene in Annie Hall in which a therapist asks Woody Allen’s and Diane Keaton’s characters about how often they have sex? The man laments, ‘Hardly ever, Maybe three times a week’, while the woman complains, ‘Constantly, I’d say three times a week.’
Chris explained that he and his wife, being raised in the Mormon church, had sex for the first time on their wedding night. ‘We expected sparks and it didn’t happen,’ he said. Afton said, ;I knew that he felt deprived of intimacy that he really wanted and needed, but all the pressure I felt made me want it less.’ However, Chris threw out the graphs when he read David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage, and asked his wife to read it too.
According to Afton, ‘He said, “It feels like you don’t love me”—and that really, really scared me. I decided to raise my game. I let myself feel what I really felt and tried to dig into what had always been buried.’ She added that reading a book about sex made her feel sexy, and now the Mowers say have had more sex in the past month than in the previous two years. Chris explained ‘Before, we focused on ourselves. Now, I have sex because I enjoy spending time with her and she has sex because she enjoys spending time with me. It is no longer about the ego.’