When people are stressed out at work, they are more likely not to have sex with their partner, a new report suggests.
A “dead bedroom” is defined as a sexless relationship that lasts for an extended period of time, anywhere from six months to five years.
Other common factors for a dry spell included weight gain (46 per cent), lack of communication (41 per cent) and having children (28 per cent).
LISTEN: ‘Dead bedroom’: Stress and other factors ruining your sex life
In the survey, which collected data of more than 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65, 21 per cent of respondents said their dead bedrooms lasted less than a month, while 15 per cent said their dry spells lasted for three months. About one per cent said they lost count and another one per cent added their dead bedrooms have lasted more than 10 years.
Susan Valentine, a registered psychotherapist based in Toronto, said she is not surprised to see work stress interfering with the bedroom.
“Work plays such a significant role in our lives that we can struggle to set boundaries at home, especially when it comes to the stress of work,” she told Global News.
“We are either reactive (irritable, impatient, dismissive, defensive) with our partners or we’re receptive (able to listen, validate, understand, be affectionate) to them. Work stress can make us reactive and that pushes away our partner…. once we’re disconnected, we’re not having sex.”
Factors that interfere with sex life
Valentine said there are many things that can interfere with a couple’s sex life. “Anything that competes for priority or attention with your relationship housework, children, aging parents, health issues, social media or financial worries,” she explained.
“When you let these other priorities take over, your relationship can suffer and you feel alone and disconnected and less able to manage the stress that comes with them.”
Avni Jain, a registered psychotherapist also based in Toronto, says other reasons that could impact sex drive or sexual performance include anxiety, depression or medical reasons.
“Sometimes the expectation of sex is a lot to ask for in all of these varying stages and sometimes you don’t really recognize ways you can manage,” she said, adding touch or hugging are other ways to observe intimacy with your partner.
Having the ‘right’ amount of sex
Some people often feel pressured have an “ideal” sex life, but Valentine added there is no “right amount of sex.”
She does, however, feel that sex is an important part of a relationship.
“If sex isn’t happening, then it may mean there’s something getting in the way of your connection, closeness or sense of motivation,” she explained.
“It’s a good opportunity to check in and see what might need to change. If that doesn’t get addressed it can lead to greater issues in a relationship.”
She says sex is about connection, intimacy, and vitality.
Jain says sometimes it comes down the individual. One partner may want more sex than the other. “Sometimes that can lead into some of the pressures externally,” she explained.
Others may also feel pressured to be “on” all the time when it comes to their sex drive. “We’re not recognizing our sexual drive will fluctuate from time,” she said, adding it can be low at times and maybe not so low at other times.
She said when we have these expectations to always be in the mood, it can set us up for failure.
Having conversations about ‘dead bedrooms’
And if you are currently in a dry spell, Valentine says it starts by prioritizing your relationship and sex life.
“When you’re connected with your partner, you’re actually better able to manage work stress or any stress,” she said. “Set dates with one another at least weekly and don’t break the date.”
You can make a commitment to connect by hugging and kissing every day before you leave for work and when you return together in the evening, she said, as another example.
Jain says when we are stressed, we usually deal with it in isolation. “We really don’t connect with people… what I would encourage is talk to your partner, work as a team.”
Also, set boundaries on the work that stresses you out.
“Practically speaking, put away your phone or screen at least an hour before bed so you and your partner have time to connect,” Valentine continued. “Set time on weekends together that is work-free.”
And lastly, she says, manage your stress head-on.
“Seek therapy, exercise, meditate, sing, play a sport, or find other coping strategies so you don’t become reactive with your partner and push them away.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.